British men’s Ironman success

Stephen Bayliss British Ironman success

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 *

AthletePositionEventYear
Will Clarke2ndUK2017
Tim Don1stBrasil2017
David McNamee3rdSouth Africa2017
Philip Graves2ndWales2016
Harry Wiltshire1stVichy2016
Will Clarke2ndCopenhagen2016
Tim Don2ndBrazil2016
David McNamee3rdLanzarote2016
Joe Skipper2ndNew Zealand2016
Harry Wiltshire3rdMalaysia2015
David McNamee1stUK2015
Fraser Cartmell2ndUK2015
Joe Skipper3rdUK2015
Joe Skipper2ndTexas2015
Tom Lowe2ndFlorida2014
Tim Don1stMallorca2014
Fraser Cartmell2ndWales2014
Harry Wiltshire2ndJapan2014
Daniel Halksworth2ndMont TremblantÊ2014
Tom Lowe3rdKalmar2014
Paul Ambrose**3rdCanada (Whistler)2014
Joe Skipper2ndUK2014
Stephen Bayliss2ndLos Cabos2014
Scott Neyedli1stWales2013
Paul Amey3rdCanada (Whistler)2013
Daniel Halksworth1stUK2013
Stephen Bayliss2ndUK2013
Joe Skipper3rdUK2013
Paul Amey1stTexas2013
Daniel Halksworth1stUK2012
Fraser Cartmell2ndUK2012
Paul Hawkins3rdUK2012
Paul Amey2ndFrance2012
Stephen Bayliss2ndLanzarote2012
Paul Amey2ndArizona2011
Nick Saunders3rdUK2011
Tom Lowe3rdArizona2010
Paul Ambrose**1stLouisville2010
Fraser Cartmell1stUK2010
Stephen Bayliss2ndUK2010
Scott Neyedli2ndAustralia2010
Philip Graves1stUK2009
Scott Neyedli2ndWestern Australia2009
Stephen Bayliss2ndUK2009
Stephen Bayliss3rdAustria2009
Stephen Bayliss1stUK2008
Stephen Bayliss1stSouth Africa2008
Scott Neyedli2ndUK2008
Stephen Bayliss2ndAustria2008
Scott Neyedli1stUK2007
Stephen Bayliss2ndUK2007
Andrew Johns2ndMalaysia2007
Spencer Smith2ndArizona2006
Simon Lessing1stLake Placid2004
Spencer Smith1stBrazil2002
Spencer Smith1stFlorida2001
Matthew Belfield1stLanzarote1999
Matthew Belfield2ndLanzarote1998
(* 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

Year1st2nd3rdTotal
199811
199911
20000
200111
200211
20030
200411
20050
200611
2007123
2008224
20091214
20102215
2011112
20121315
20133126
20141629
20151225
20161416
20171113

British male Ironman® podium finishes – ‘medal table’ style

Athlete1st places2nd places3rd placesPodiums
Stephen Bayliss27110
Scott Neyedli235
Daniel Halksworth213
Spencer Smith213
Tim Don213
Fraser Cartmell134
Paul Amey1214
Harry Wiltshire1113
Matthew Belfield112
Philip Graves112
David McNamee123
Paul Ambrose**112
Simon Lessing11
Joe Skipper325
Will Clarke22
Tom Lowe123
Andrew Johns11
Nick Saunders11
Paul Hawkins11

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 ladies. It is worth noting however that Spencer Smith achieved a fifth place finish in Kona 1998 (and an eighth in 2000), which is still the best British male (position) finish on the big island.

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.

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 is 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

Do you believe there is a performance missing here? If so, please do let me know via [email protected].