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Throwback Thursday: 1988 Ironman World Championships

A comparison between the finishing times in 1988 and last years edition of the Ironman World Championships in Kona

1988 ironman

1988 ironman

It was 30 years ago, but the top Ironman triathletes were still putting down some impressive race splits.

The top male finisher, Scott Molina would’ve finished 18th in last years edition of the Ironman World Championships. Finishing just behind former cycling professional, Cameron Wurf. Paula Newby-Fraser, the top female would’ve finished 3rd, coming just behind Lucy Charles. Those performances are amazing considering the technology, training, and nutrition that has been developed in the last 30 years.

It really is impressive how far we have come. For example, take Mark Allen’s sub 3-hour marathon in 1988. Mark was the only competitor to go sub 3-hours in the top 15. Last year, winner Patrick Lange ran a sub 2:40 marathon to past Lionel Sanders in the final miles. Of the top 15 finishers in the men’s field in 2017, twelve ran a sub 3-hour marathon.

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Then there are the bike splits. The fastest female bike split in 1988 was Paula’s 4:57:13. In 2017, the fastest female bike split was Daniela Ryf’s 4:53:10, while the top 10 all went sub 5:05. In comparison to 1988, where the top 10 averaged roughly 5:20.

Here are some takeaways. First, the athletic accomplishments of those in 1988 are quite impressive. Considering how in 2018 we have all of these tech, shoe, bike, swimwear, training and bike companies continually pushing their limits to maximize performance. The 1988 results really exemplifies the ‘engine’  these triathletes had. Second, look how far we have come. The competition is so tight. Just to crack the top 10 in an Ironman event is extremely difficult, let alone Kona.

So, let us marvel in the performances of our favourite triathletes, because it truly is a test of the human limits.