It was mission accomplished for Fredrik Croneborg, who hoisted the finish tape as the new Ironman Malaysia champion last Saturday. Only a scant 33 seconds separated the Swede from the rest of the international field in the brutal Langkawi heat and hills, but those 33 seconds were all that he needed to take the final leap from two-time runner-up to the top of the podium. This was his first win in an Ironman-branded race after taking gold at the full-distance Challenge Atlantic City in 2014.
A foot injury that limited his running forced him to work on his swim and bike legs in training. The fitness showed as he limited the damage out of the swim and made up a four-minute gap by the last quarter of the cycle course. Riding the day’s fastest bike split, he built up a 90-second lead by the time he hit the bike-to-run transition. This buffer was just enough to stay ahead of fast-charging challengers Thiago Vinhal and Kaito Tohara over the marathon.
“With my limited run mileage I was running scared the whole marathon. Thiago Vinhal with other good runners were closing in fast. I was getting bad memories from last year when I lost with a sprint finish,” Croneborg said. “It was really emotional to be able to hold them off and finally take that win.”
Croneborg has made Asia his home for almost a decade, welcoming a daughter with partner Katja Rabe this year in Phuket. “I had my most special race ever yesterday,” he said. “After being runner up in 2014 and 2015 I finally managed to win the race and at the same time take my first full Ironman win! I could not pick a better race to do this at, being based in Asia.”
Bahrain Endurance teammate Jodie Swallow also had reason to celebrate after being recognized as British Female Long Distance Triathlete of the Year at the British Triathlon Awards Dinner. The Ironman Asia Pacific and ITU Long Distance Champion was named alongside Elite Athletes of the Year and Alistair Brownlee and Vicky Holland, who won Olympic gold and bronze respectively in Rio this year. She said, “Voted for by members it is a real honour, especially because of the depth of and standard that British triathletes are achieving at the moment.”