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These are the 10 fastest Ironman and full-distance finishes of all time

Kristian Blummenfelt has the top spot, can you name the other nine?

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Racing might have been limited through much of the last couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed the worlds’ top long-distance athletes very much. In fact, there’s been a full-scale assault on the full-distance record book over the last two years – half of the top-10 men’s and women’s times were set in 2021, and the trend continued through 2022 with another raft of fast times.

Included in the list of fast times, but not on our official records, are the results from the Sub7/Sub8 Project, where the athletes were paced through all three legs of the race in the hunt of breaking the seven- (men) and eight- (women) hour barriers. Kristian Blummenfelt set a blazing-fast 6:44:25 time, with Joe Skipper finishing in 6:47:36 in the men’s race, while, for the women, Kat Matthews would shatter the eight-hour barrier with her 7:31:54, while Nicola Spirig would also finish well under the eight hour mark with her 7:34:19. Those times won’t be heralded as world-bests, though, because the athletes were paced through the events.

Blummenfelt, in addition to his impressive Sub7 effort, shattered the world-best time for an Ironman just a few months after he took Olympic gold in Tokyo with his 7:21:12 performance in Cozumel in 2021. While we, and other news outlets, wondered whether the time would be accepted as world best time because of the down-current swim, Ironman confirmed that as far as it is concerned, Blummenfelt has the “Ironman best time” thanks to his impressive performance in Mexico.

Blummenfelt’s performance in Cozumel was just one of four that have ended up on the top-10 list of the fastest full-distance efforts.

Related: Blummenfelt blasts to Ironman Cozumel win in record time (which might not be recognized due to down-current swim

So here’s a list of the top-10 full-distance times (as far as we can tell, anyway!) As we mentioned in our “world records” story – see below – we are fully aware that designated world-best times at triathlon events is always a difficult task. We’re going to forego the challenging questions of whether times should be part of this list because of down-current swims (Cozumel) or because the race was an exhibition event (the Zwift Tri-Battle Royale) – this is purely a list of the fastest times we can track down for the distance.

Some interesting notes:

  • Chrissie Wellington (pictured above) has two times in the top-10 for the women. (She had three until this June when Laura Philipp moved into second place, just missing Wellington’s world best time by seven seconds in Hamburg). Anne Haug’s performance at Challenge Roth is another new addition to the top 10. Another woman with two finishes in the top 10 is Daniela Ryf
  • Jan Frodeno has two times in the men’s top-10
  • Challenge Roth now has seven performances in the top-10 men’s and women’s lists
  • Sadly there are no Canadians on the top-10 list – Lionel Sanders’ 7:43:30 from the Tri-Battle Royale got bumped with the flurry of fast times in the fall of 2021

Top 10 men’s and women’s full-distance triathlon times

Name Country Time  Event
Kristian Blummenfelt  NOR  7:21:12  Ironman Cozumel 2021
Jan Frodeno  GER  7:27:53  Tri-Battle Royale 2021
Jan Frodeno  GER  7:35:39  Challenge Roth 2016
Magnus Ditlev  DEN  7:35:48  Challenge Roth 2022
Ruedi Wild  SUI  7:36:35  Ironman Cozumel 2021
Kristian Hogenhaug  DEN  7:37:46  Challenge Almere-Amsterdam 2021
Matt Hanson  USA  7:39:25  Ironman Texas 2018
Jesper Svensson  SWE  7:39:26  Challenge Almere-Amsterdam 2021
Ivan Tutukin  RUS  7:39:57  Ironman Texas 2018
Tim Don  GBR  7:40:23  Ironman Brazil 2017
Name Country Time  Event
Chrissie Wellington  GBR  8:18:13  Challenge Roth 2011
Laura Philipp  GER  8:18:20  Ironman Hamburg 2022
Chrissie Wellington  GBR  8:19:13  Challenge Roth 2010
Daniela Ryf  SUI  8:22:04  Challenge Roth 2016
Sara Svensk  SWE  8:22:41  Ironman Cozumel 2021
Anne Haug  GER  8:22:42  Challenge Roth 2022
Daniela Ryf  SUI  8:26:18  Ironman World Championship 2018
Melissa Hauschildt  AUS  8:31:05  Ironman Texas 2018
Lucy Charles-Barclay  GBR  8:31:09  Challenge Roth 2019
Gurutze Frades Larralde  ESP  8:31:12  Ironman Cozumel 2021
Chrissie Wellington competes at Challenge Roth. Photo: Challenge-Roth.com

Related: What are the triathlon “world records” for each distance?

Fast courses?

For years Challenge Roth reigned supreme as the fastest full-distance course in the world, but in 2021 a couple of other contenders started to vie for the crown – Ironman Cozumel and Challenge Almere. If you go simply by the fastest times ever done over the full-distance, those three races now have the lion’s share of the top-10 times.

Related: De Vries and Hogenhaug fly to world titles in Almere with record-shattering day

Of course one year does not necessarily prove the point. Last fall’s race at Ironman Cozumel saw Blummenfelt and four others put themselves on the top-10 full-distance list. (One of those has since been bumped.) The flat, fast conditions in Cozumel are usually tempered by strong winds and high temperatures. Blummenfelt’s Ironman record-setting performance came at an event that featured lots of rain and 27 degree temperatures with 81 per cent humidity – not exactly the easiest conditions for a fast race, one would have thought.

In September, 2021, Challenge Almere, which served as the World Triathlon Long Distance World Championships, saw three times added to the list as well. Usually considered a tough course because of the long stretches on open roads with strong winds, that year’s race in The Netherlands featured favourable wind conditions, which the elite athletes took full advantage of.

So, does that mean Cozumel and Almere should be first on your list if you’re gunning after a fast time? Probably not – you’re likely still safest to head to Challenge Roth for that PB. If we see more fast times from those races in the future, though, we might have to revise that outlook.