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British & Irish iron-distance records

In 2017 David McNamee broke the Scottish iron-distance record at the IRONMAN World Championship. In 2018 he did it again...

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*** David McNamee breaks Scottish record in Kona – again! ***

Over several years now I’ve been taking an in-depth historical look at Ironman / Iron-distance performances, both from a British and a World perspective.

I’ve been considering both finishing positions, and finishing times to collate, I hope, some interesting and informative data. Here is a a quick summary of that work so far:

Tri247 Iron-Distance Statistics Library

Do you believe there is a performance missing here? If so, please do let me know via editor@tri247.com.

What I’m going to look at now is who holds the fastest ironman-distance times for each of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland?

While hoping to set a British or English record time if you are female means, at the time of writing, you need to be the absolute fastest iron-distance racer ever, for those in Scotland, Wales or Ireland the task of holding a national record might be (slightly!) more achievable. There is also the undoubted kudos and pride at being the fastest ever from your country.

What follows is my attempt to collate what I believe to be the fastest ironman distance times achieved by each of the British & Ireland Nations (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales). Do you believe there is a performance missing here? If so, please do let me know via editor@tri247.com.

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British & Irish Ironman Distance Records

England

NameLocationYearTotal
Tim DonBrasil201707:40:23
Chrissie WellingtonRoth201108:18:13

As the triathlon world knows, Chrissie Wellington‘s stunning world best figures of 8:31:59 also represented a new English record when set in 2009 at Challenge Roth.

This improved her own previous best performance (Frankfurt 2008) by 19 minutes 25 seconds. And in 2010…she took another 12 minutes and 46 seconds off of that, for perhaps the single greatest long distance triathlon performance ever. 8:19:13 … until she did it again, but faster, a year later! 8:18:13 is now the gold standard.

The 8:13:53 of Stephen Bayliss set in Austria (2008) broke one of the longest standing Home Nations records, finally surpassing the 8:15:21 recorded by the late Julian Jenkinson at the European Ironman Championships in 1995.

However, in just his first attempt at the distance, 2007 European Duathlon bronze medal winner Tom Lowe set a new English (and British) Ironman record of 8:11:44 at Ironman Arizona 2010. In his second Ironman, Tom Lowe once again set a British Ironman record, this time at Ironman Austria 2011.

His time of 8:11:31 shaves 13 seconds from his Ironman Arizona finish. Paul Amey then raised the bar – by a further 10 minutes – at Ironman Arizona 2011, his 8:01:29 which took him very close to becoming the first ‘sub-8’ iron-Brit.

Five years later – after very publically making it his goal – Joe Skipper becomes the first British athlete under the eight hour mark at Challenge Roth 2016 with a storming time of 7:56:23. Less than 12 months later – and SIXTEEN MINUTES FASTER – Tim Don sets a stunning 7:40:23 at IRONMAN Brasil 2017.

Scotland

NameLocationYearTotal
David McNameeHawaii201808:01:09
Catriona MorrisonRoth200908:48:11

The fastest Scottish performances have been changing hands frequently in recent years. Bella Bayliss improved her own best figures to 8:50:13 at Ironman Austria in 2009. Challenge Roth 2009 saw her lose both of those to Chrissie Wellington, and also fellow Scot Catriona Morrison on her iron distance debut.

For the men, Scott Neyedli had been the fastest Scot, until Graeme Stewart recorded 8:23:39 at Roth in 2009. Scott then regained the ‘fastest Scot’ title when finishing second at Ironman Western Australia 2009 in 8:17:48. Scott had hoped to be revising his best time – and possibly setting a British record – at Roth 2010, but as we reported, injury forced a change of plans.

Fast forward – literally – to 2013 and once again Graeme Stewart recaptured the ‘fastest Scot’ status with an 8:16:42 when finishing seventh at Challenge Barcelona. Three years later, and on the same course, Ritchie Nicholls became the new record holder, recording 8:13:01 at Ironman Barcelona 2016. That changed again, courtesy of David McNamee at Ironman South Africa 2017 – and his career-best performance of third at the IRONMAN World Championships further shaved another 20 seconds off. David is still improving – and with the third fastest time EVER in Hawaii, the Scottish record is now 8:01:09.

Wales

NameLocationYearTotal
Oliver SimonBarcelona201508:34:17
Leanda CaveArizona201108:49:00

We thought he was retired! Richard Jones is busy these days with his coaching duties at www.thetrilife.com, so we were a little surprised – maybe he was too?! – to see 2002 Half Ironman UK winner Richard set new Welsh best iron-distance figures of 8:43:12 at Challenge Roth in 2009.

Standing for over six years, that was the joint longest record on the books…but finally, it has been beaten. Congratulations to Tenby’s Oliver Simon who has cut eight mintes and 55 seconds from that time with an 8:34:17 clocking at Ironman Barcelona 2015.

Leanda Cave has achieved a lot of success in her distinguished career, but 2010 will certainly be a season she will remember. At Ironman Arizona 2010 she broke her own Welsh Ironman record by 11 minutes 17 seconds, setting a new benchmark of 9:13:50 on her way to third place and another podium finish.

Could 2011 be an even better year? Yes! Her third place in Kona was not only a great result – but achieved in a new personal best time, taking over 10 minutes from her PB and Welsh record, breaking the tape in 9:03:29. Fast forward a month, and record smashed again – this time with an 8:49:00 en route to her first Ironman win in Arizona.

Ireland

NameLocationYearTotal
Bryan McCrystalChallenge Roth201808:07:37
Eimear MullanBarcelona201508:56:51

Ironman Austria 2009 saw new Irish figures set by Liam Dolan, when he recorded 9:02:48 at Ironman Austria. That left the Irish mark tantalising close to the nine hour mark. Who would be the first to break that barrier? Well, TWO Irish athletes achieved that at Ironman Austria 2011, the fastest being Martin Muldoon 8:49:46, with Owen Martin dipping under the nine hour mark with 8:59:13.

After two years without the record, Liam Dolan managed to grab it back at Ironman Copenhagen 2013, and the new benhcmark for Irish male athletes was 8:45:26. Though he lost his record, Martin Muldoon also performed well in Copenhagen (8:55:10). Having regained the record… it’s now been taken away by Bryan McCrystal.

At Ironman Barcelona 2015 – in part thanks to a superb 4:17:11 bike split – Bryan finished in 8:41:29 to cut almost four minutes from Liam’s Copehagen numbers. “Who will be next?” was the question we asked, and we didn’t have to wait long… because just six weeks later, on 15th November 2015, Bryan further improved his own figures to 8:30:50 at Ironman Arizona. Bryan continued his record-breaking at Challenge Roth in 2018, with a fantastic time of 8:07:37 in Bavaria to finish seventh. That might well have put the Irish record out of sight for some time

Looking across all of the records, the Irish ladies record of Tara Nolan set at Ironman Western Australia in 2007 was the longest standing… until Joyce Wolfe at Ironman Austria 2011 smashed Tara’s time of 9:45:55 to record a brilliant 9:15:43, good enough for eighth overall.

That time stood exactly two years until 2013 when Eimear Mullan showed her quality when setting an Ironman PB for third place in Klagenfurt, the new Irish best figures now standing at 9:05:46.

You would have to believe that Eimear has the ability to be the first Irish female under the nine hour mark over the next year or two, given the right course and conditions. That prediction has now proven correct, with Eimear taking fourth place at Ironman Barcelona 2015 in a time of 8:56:51 – a new PB time by almost nine minutes.

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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