Triathlon: How a Neubrandenburger wrote Hawaii history

Even days after his greatest experience as an athlete, Jan Müller was still full of euphoria: Yes, I was here, here in Hawaii! And I have achieved the goal! On October 26, 1996, Müller finished the Ironman in Hawaii. In the place of longing for all triathletes in the world, the then 26-year-old reached the finish line in 10: 25.01 hours after swimming 3.8 kilometers, cycling 180 kilometers and running 42.2 kilometers in 10: 25.01 hours. It was the greatest thing he had experienced as a triathlete, says Jan Müller 25 years later. The now 51-year-old even wrote a chapter in the history of the city back then – he was the first Neubrandenburg resident to take part in the world’s most famous triathlon competition.

It is a difficult path to the island in the Pacific and therefore only a small group of Neubrandenburg triathletes who have even qualified for Hawaii: After Müller, only Thomas Rost, Thomas Weber, Frank Reimann and, this year, Stephan Schwandke, made it through the qualification hurdles to master.

Jan Müller secured the Hawaii ticket in Roth in the summer of 1996. At the Ironman, the most famous in Germany, the athlete from the Tri-Sport Club at the time crossed the finish line after a proud 9: 30.24 hours. “I knew that Hawaii would be interesting for me now,” he says. In his age group only the best 35 athletes got a ticket for Hawaii, Müller finished 48th in Roth. But since traditionally not all Ironmen make use of their right to start, the Neubrandenburger slipped so far forward that he was there in the end. “A dream came true for me,” he says.

Jan Müller played football at Post for many years

Jan Müller had also mastered his first long distance two years earlier in Roth. Until then, he was more comfortable as a hobby triathlete. “In Roth, I crossed the finish line after 10:30 hours and thought to myself: What would be possible if I train a little more?” He recalls. The myth of Hawaii also played a motivating role for the Neubrandenburger back then.

Jan Müller, who experienced his first triathlon as a marshal in 1989 and had previously been a footballer at BSG Post Neubrandenburg for many years, finally got going and gradually increased his training volumes. In the year before his start in Hawaii alone, he swam 186 kilometers in training, sat 7,000 kilometers on the racing bike and ran 2,800 kilometers through the area. While the training for the greatest adventure of his life was going well, another “building site” opened up: It was about the money. Hawaii was supposed to cost around 5000 D-Marks in total, a sum the young man did not have. “My parents helped me a lot back then. I then simply asked the Nordkurier whether they could support me. Yes, you could, so at least I already had the flight costs in there. That was nice, ”he says with a smile.

On the dream island of triathlon, all of Jan Müller’s ideas about the legendary Ironman came true – simply awesome: “But it wasn’t my most beautiful competition because you drive and run through the lava desert most of the time, there is hardly a spectator . They are only in the target area. ” He was not entirely satisfied with his time: “The conditions with the extremely high humidity and the great heat were also very harsh.” He was in pain because he fell on his bike a few weeks before Hawaii. So cancel the Ironman – no issue.

After Hawaii, Jan Müller took a nine-year Ironman break. There was a lack of desire and motivation. It wasn’t until 2005 that he started again – at the Norseman in Norway, which is one of the toughest long distances in the world due to its high altitude difference – after a painful 12:10 hours, the Neubrandenburger crossed the finisher line. After the competition in Lanzarote in 2008, he finally ended his Ironman career. But he will always remember Hawaii 1996: “This Ironman remains a myth.”

Today Jan Müller works as a triathlon trainer for the SCN

He has remained loyal to triathlon, however, in 2008 he found his way to SC Neubrandenburg as a trainer, where he volunteered to look after the youngsters. Jan Müller has been working full-time as a triathlon trainer for the SCN since 2013 and is happy to now have a secure employment relationship.

For a long time, Müller and many other coaching colleagues went from one year contract to another. In the course of the reform in competitive sports, however, there were positive changes in this regard. Jan Müller is now part of the coaching pool of the State Sports Association of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and has an open-ended contract. “I’m very grateful, it shows that you have confidence,” says the Neubrandenburg resident, who was named Germany’s young trainer of the year by the triathlon association in 2020.

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