Can a man go under seven hours for a full-distance race? Can a woman go under eight hours? We’ll find out next year when two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee, 2019 Grand Final champ and the fastest man over the half-distance, Kristian Blummenfelt, three-time Kona runner-up Lucy Charles-Barclay and Olympic gold and silver medalist Nicola Spirig go after those lofty times in the Pho3nix Foundation project. The event is being “spearheaded” Chris McCormack.
The #Sub7 and #Sub8 Projects are here. The race to redefine the limits of human achievement. The race to #DefyTheImpossible. Sub7 – @AliBrownleetri vs @kristianblu
Sub8 – @NicolaSpirig vs @LucyAnneCharles 👉 Follow https://t.co/hkrwSVR5KI | #sub7sub8 #triathlon #irondistance
— Pho3nix (@Pho3nix_Fdn) January 27, 2021
The current world-best times are Jan Frodeno’s 7:35:39 (2016) and Chrissie Wellington’s 8:18:13 (2011) – both times were set at Challenge Roth.
Competing over the full-distance – 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42.2 km run – the athletes will have to “swim at Olympic open water medallist pace; cycle at an average speed of 51 kilometres/hour for 180 kilometres – which is on pace with the fastest Tour de France stage over 100 miles ever ridden; before running a sub 2 hour and 30 minute marathon,” according to a press release from event organizers Mana Sport and Entertainment Group. (McCormack is the CEO of the company.) To achieve those lofty times the athletes will be allowed to have as many pacers along the way as they’d like.
“We sat around a table after an endurance race in Bahrain discussing the world record times and if they could be beaten,” Brownlee says. “The women thought in the right conditions it was possible to go under 8 hours. I thought I could go sub seven hours. A mix of bravado and competitive instinct kicked in and before we knew it, we had all signed up to the idea of not just attempting to go faster than anyone in history but breaking the mythical 7- and 8-hour barriers.”
“Outside of championship racing is where we often see the best competitive moments and records occur,” McCormack says. “It happened in Roth in 1996 when Germany’s Lothar Leder smashed the magical 8-hour mark in the iron distance for the first time; and we saw it in 2019 when Eliud Kipchoge became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours.”
“If Alistair or Kristian broke 7-hours or Nicola or Lucy broke 8-hours, it would elevate these great competitors,” McCormack continues. “They would become the rock stars of endurance sport. I really mean that. What they are attempting is almost the perfect multi-sport endurance athletic challenge. The physical brutality is one thing, but the mental anguish and suffering loaded with this is unheralded.”
Right now there aren’t any details on where the event will take place or the date, although organizers have said that the event will take place in March or April, 2022.