The latest in a series of articles looking at the history and performances of British athletes over the most iconic of triathlon distances.
I hope that these, in aggregate, will form an appropriate record, recognition and information resource for the sport, and recognise excellence not just of recent years, but since the inception of the sport. History is important… it is easy to forget!
Related Article – Britain’s Fastest Iron Men
In part one I looked at British female performances within the Ironman® series of races – I will be talking about other iron-distance races and records in due course (!) – and today I provide a similar [also updated…] analysis in relation to the British men.
From time-to-time your Editor has been known to enjoy a statistic or two – but with good reason. Having asked myself the question of “how many podium finishes have British athletes achieved in Ironman racing?”, the only thing to do was get researching and try and find out.
A couple of notes before I start. For the purposes of this analysis, the subject is limited to full distance Ironman branded (M-Dot / WTC) races. There are of course many iron-distance events around the world (including the likes of Challenge Roth, Almere, Forestman, Outlaw, Norseman, Embrunman…), many of which – Roth especially – rival any Ironman branded race in terms of spectacle, size and quality.
That said, there is little doubt of the impact that the Ironman® brand has made within the triathlon world over the past 30 years and that for many, winning an Ironman race is a career goal.
So, what follows here is my attempt to create the definitive record of Ironman® podium finishes by British male athletes.
Is it complete? Good question! If you think any performance is missing from the list, email me via [email protected].
British male Ironman® podium finishes by year *
|Joe Skipper||2nd||New Zealand||2018|
|David McNamee||3rd||South Africa||2017|
|Joe Skipper||2nd||New Zealand||2016|
|Daniel Halksworth||2nd||Mont Tremblant||2014|
|Paul Ambrose**||3rd||Canada (Whistler)||2014|
|Stephen Bayliss||2nd||Los Cabos||2014|
|Paul Amey||3rd||Canada (Whistler)||2013|
|Scott Neyedli||2nd||Western Australia||2009|
|Stephen Bayliss||1st||South Africa||2008|
|Simon Lessing||1st||Lake Placid||2004|
(* For the purposes of this analysis I have taken overall positions, 1/2/3 as ‘podium’ finishes, irrespective of race category or event (as in some races, there may be ten athletes physically ‘on the podium’)).
(** Paul was born in the UK and raised in Australia, holding passports of both countries. His GBR-represented results are included within this listing for completeness as he has represented Great Britain in ETU/ITU Long Course championships).
Number of British male Ironman® podium finishes by year
British male Ironman® podium finishes – ‘medal table’ style
|Athlete||1st places||2nd places||3rd places||Podiums|
This table is the data above presented in the style you would typically see for the Olympic medal tables. Overall order is determined initially by number of 1st places, then by 2nd places, then by 3rd places. For example, though Daniel Halksworth has three podium Ironman® finishes versus the four of Paul Amey, Daniel is placed ahead of Paul in the ‘medal table’ by virtue of two wins (UK 12 / 13) to one for Paul (Texas 13).
Aside from summarising an athletes podium history, how much value this adds is…debatable! By this analysis, Stephen Bayliss sits on top of the Ironman® British rankings in terms of volume, as does wife Bella for the women. It is worth noting however that Spencer Smith achieved a fifth place finish in Kona 1998 (and an eighth in 2000), which was the best British male (position) finish on the big island – until David McNamee’s 2017 podium.
Phil Graves won his first attempt at the distance in Bolton in 2009, but we may have to wait a few more years for Phil to add to his tally, following his Lanzarote 2010 DNF and subsequent Steve Redgrave style comment of “if you see me entering an Ironman in the next 18 months, shoot me”!
He has plenty of years ahead of him. After all, his win at Ironman UK aged 20 made him the youngest ever Ironman winner….well, he’s now back with second place at Ironman Wales 2016 (repeated again 12 months later and in 2018 too.
Tom Lowe‘s third place at Ironman Arizona 2010 represented not only a great debut, but was also a British Ironman record – until he broke it again at Ironman Austria 2011 (fourth place). With clear scope for improvement in his swim, we hope to be seeing a lot more from Tom over the next few years – and with a debut (2011) 11th place, 8:29:02 in Kona, he was certainly capable of some significant results over the next couple of seasons.
A win at Challege Henley and second (in a personal best time) at Challenge Barcelona 2013 shows that. He secured his second M-Dot full distance podium with third place at Ironman Kalmar 2014 and then a third at the swim-cancelled Ironman Florida. Tom has however now retired from professional Ironman racing.
There was another British record performance at Ironman Arizona 2011, but it wasn’t Tom Lowe this time. Paul Amey. after several Ironman races in recent years finally ‘nailed’ one, and in spectacular style. His 8:01:29 finish slices 10:02 from the 8:11:31 finish of Tom at Ironman Austria 2011. A fine way to end his 2011 season.
A second place at Ironman France 2012 is a nice continuation of that form – and now his is an Ironman winner! (Texas 2013). With just a weeks rest after Mont Tremblant, he also took third at the first Ironman Canada in Whistler to secure his Kona start and also his fourth M-Dot full-distance podium finish.
It is also worth bearing in mind the way that the Ironman circuit has changed over the past 15/20 years. While there are around 40 Ironman events on the annual calendar now, that wasn’t always the case, and hence the opportunities to race were few and far between. With this increase in volume, not surprisingly some events can be considered ‘softer’, in terms of depth of professional field, and hence ‘not all races are equal’!
Tri247 Iron-Distance Statistics Library
- Sub-9 iron ladies: a history
the definitive list of sub-nine hour female iron distance finishes
- Sub-8 iron men: a history
the definitive list of sub-eight hour male iron distance finishes
- British Ironman success: Ladies
the definitive record of Ironman® podium finishes by British female athletes
- British Ironman success: Men
the definitive record of Ironman® podium finishes by British male athletes
- British & Irish Iron Distance Records
the fastest ironman distance times achieved for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales
- Fastest British Iron Ladies
every sub-nine hour 15 minute iron-distance finish by British female athletes ever recorded.
- Fastest British Iron Men
every sub-eight hour 30 minute iron-distance finish by British male (and female…) athletes ever recorded
- The Fastest British Athletes at the IRONMAN World Championships, Hawaii
A complete listing of every sub 8:45 finish (Male) and sub 9:30 finish (Female) from British athletes in Kona
Do you believe there is a performance missing here? If so, please do let me know via [email protected].