THorsten Schröder is a bit unsteady on his feet. “Shit, I’m done!” Says the “Tagesschau” spokesperson and grins blissfully. Because that’s exactly why he eventually came to Hawaii: because of the suffering in the legendary Ironman. Because of the feeling when it’s done. Pain, pride, relief – all at once. “If I sit down now, I don’t know if I’ll get up again,” he says.
For the 54-year-old, a two-year journey is now reaching its climax and its end. Then Schröder decided: he wants to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii for the second time after 2017. He made it, was now one of nearly 500 German starters on the island and after 3.86 kilometers of swimming in the Pacific Ocean, 180 kilometers by bike and the last marathon at 30 degrees and high humidity, he came over cheering the finish. 11:05:45 was on the display after his name. “Thorsten Schröder,” exclaimed the moderator, “you’re an Ironman.”
Since November 1, 2020, he has now cycled, swam and walked a total of 20,000 kilometers. How it works? “I often train until just before work, eat something and then quickly drive away. Or I put on my sportswear right after work,” he says. Sometimes he also uses the commute for training.
Not much had changed for his friends and his partner. “Due to my unusual working hours, I can often train during the day during the week,” he explains. However, in the hot phase, before qualifying in Frankfurt in June and the workload ramped up to 20 hours a week, things looked different. Schröder is grateful that his girlfriend took a lot from him and made the training possible.
He banned chocolate
He has cut alcohol from his life before the start of the year and is considering keeping it that way. On the other hand, he allowed himself cake. And another thing that Schröder has banned since the end of 2021: chocolate. “Because once I’ve started it, it’s hard for me to stop.”
Triathlon has been a part of his life for a long time, he has been practicing the sport for almost 25 years. In 2012 he dared to run his first long distance. “For me, as a person who is active, sport means pure relaxation,” he says. “Changing my mind and I relieve stress.” And if Schröder is passionate about something, he also wants to know about it. And really. The Hawaii qualifier for 2017 meant the world to him.
At the time, he called the race “cruel.” Especially since after five kilometers of the marathon nothing worked anymore. 37 kilometers of terror, but the greater the suffering on the track, the greater the relief at the end. “Finishing in Kona was pure luck, all hardships were forgotten,” he says. Fighting your way through it, pushing it to the limit – just his thing.
He wanted to experience that again. Despite and perhaps because of the suffering. And because of this myth, it is the oldest long-distance race in the world. And as usual in triathlon, professionals and athletes of the age group start on the same day. “The beauty of Hawaii is the atmosphere, the attributes, the history,” says Schröder enthusiastically. The extreme conditions make it so fascinating. And: Hawaii is the scene of the World Cup. A second time he wanted to be part of the myth. And would like to beat his 2017 time: 10:56am. That he qualified in Frankfurt at 9:55:18 is not comparable due to the heat, humidity, wind and the course in Hawaii.
“Two years! It couldn’t have gone much better”
After 1:18:44 a.m., it will emerge from the Pacific on Saturday. He needed 5:33:26 hours for the 180 kilometers on the bike and 4:00:56 hours for the marathon. 72nd place out of 387 starters in his age group. His cheers? In the triathlon suit of his club, FC St. Pauli.
“It was exhausting,” he says afterwards. And there was also a moment of shock. At 50 km from the bike course, his bike made strange noises. Thoughts raced through Schröder’s head. “‘The crank!’ I thought, ‘If the bottom bracket is gone, then congratulations.’” And he wondered, “Will I make it to the finish line or am I lost in the wilderness?” But 30 kilometers later everything was suddenly fine again, the bike held up.
It got really hard towards the end. “It was a really tough battle and cramp, because unfortunately I had to do a few walks in the last twelve kilometers. I wanted to stay under my 2017 time, tried everything again, but couldn’t keep up the pace for long. In the end the grains were missing .” Perhaps also because of his forced break after a corona infection in the summer.
At the finish, the agony of the last kilometers is forgotten. “I’m happy,” he says. “When you know at the end of the race that nothing can happen to you, it is indescribable. The tears were about to come with joy and emotion. It was incredibly emotional because it is the culmination of a journey of two years which was great fun but also very tiring. Two years! It couldn’t have gone much better, very brilliant.” That his time was ten minutes slower than he’d hoped It doesn’t matter right now.
Schröder looks at his medal and then says: “It is very beautiful. And above all I am happy that I have it now. That was my big goal.” Then he tries to get up It’s not that easy…