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Seven reasons why Patrick Lange is among the front runners today

When the starting gun for the Ironman World Championship for professional men sounds on the Kailua-Kona pier this Saturday, experts and fans can expect an extremely exciting triathlon drama (6:25 p.

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Seven reasons why Patrick Lange is among the front runners today

When the starting gun for the Ironman World Championship for professional men sounds on the Kailua-Kona pier this Saturday, experts and fans can expect an extremely exciting triathlon drama (6:25 p.m.). And the question arises: Will the Hawaii winning streak of the Germans, which Sebastian Kienle started at the Ironman 2014, break? Or will Patrick Lange actually win again after 2017 and 2018?

The top favorite is clearly Kristian Blummenfelt, 28, from Norway. After Olympic gold in 2021, he also secured victory in the World Championship series over the short distance, before switching to the long distance and crowning himself Ironman World Champion there in May (at the catch-up World Championships in Utah). Blummenfelt's teammate Gustav Iden, the Dane Magnus Ditlev, Lionel Sanders from Canada - and sometimes, yes only sometimes, Patrick Lange, are usually named as the toughest competitors. Jan Frodeno is injured and Sebastian Kienle's triumph would be a huge surprise.

A long year wasn't easy: a training crash followed by a shoulder operation in February, he didn't come back until the beginning of July in Roth, where he finished second behind Ditlev, then a corona infection. And yet: Despite the strength of the Scandinavians, despite his training deficit due to a fall and Corona, there are enough reasons why Patrick Lange can fight for the podium, even for victory:

The 36-year-old knows how to win here. Already on his debut in 2016 he came third, followed by two wins. To put it in Blummenfelt's words: "Sometimes Patrick isn't quite as strong during the season, but then Hawaii comes along - and he's there."

record time! Patrick Lange from Bad Wildungen won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. In the women's category, Daniela Ryf from Switzerland won for the third time.

Which: Reuters

The conditions, the heat, the humidity: Lange has experience with it and gets along very well. And most importantly, he knows he can do Hawaii. "I was made for this race," he said on Wednesday in Kona. His exit in 2019? Was due to illness.

Nothing has to be proven for a long time, the greatest pressure lies with others. How does he approach the race? "On the one hand with the relaxed attitude of an experienced, seasoned athlete, but still with great motivation and the demand on myself to be able to perform at my best again," he says. "Of course 2019 was tough, but that's why I was on the podium three years in a row." And: He likes the slight outsider role. "It's kind of funny to be underestimated as a two-time winner here in Kona," says Lange, "but I like this position."

The race in Roth at the beginning of July went against Lange, he went through more downs than ups and still fought his way up to second place. "Mentally, Roth was definitely the best performance I've ever had in my career," he says. "That's why the race was so valuable for me, because I noticed there: Even if a competition develops completely against me - and that was new territory for me - a lot is still possible."

Lange stuck to his plan throughout the race, just kept trying to get the most out of the situation. And was rewarded.

No triathlete in Hawaii ever ran faster than Patrick Lange: 2:39:59 hours. The marathon times of his victories in 2017 and 2018 can also be found in the top six. No reason to rest on your laurels - Lange continues to refine his technique. "The position of the head, for example," says the 36-year-old. And now he's wearing his cap the right way round instead of the wrong way round. First happened in Roth. "No one noticed," he says. "But it was a conscious decision."

Wearing the cap the right way makes you faster? Maybe. Lange explains: “At some point I always let my head fall back when I was running. I actually think that the sensitive thing in me has something to do with it: the longer I'm on the go, the more the cap gets soaked, the shield is then full of water. And I can imagine that's why it pulled me back a bit.” And that changes the running position for the worse. In any case, in Roth, Lange ran to a new course record in the second half, despite severe shoulder pain.

Lange went through difficult times in 2018 and 2019: First his mother died, then a good friend. He was struggling, also with the pressure from the first win in Hawaii, and fell into a hole. Then came sporting crises and the Hawaii task - in the end he rearranged himself. New coach, new management, move to Salzburg. It's good for him.

Which Patrick Lange will we see in Kona? "The mentally strongest," he says. “Not only because setbacks have an impact and the changed environment was the right path. A completely new field has also opened up for me in the field of mental training.” A field that he left unused for a long time and in which he also works with an expert. "It's an issue that makes me a holistic athlete," he says.

Not only mentally but also physically he had never been so strong in Hawaii, said Patrick Lange three days before the race. Despite the difficult season. His trainer Björn Geesmann confirms that. Lange: “I think I've become a different athlete. Much more structured. Much more training, more intensity.”

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