The history of ‘fast Brits’ at the IRONMAN World Championship
With the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship in the books, it is time to take a look – on a time basis at least – how the results of the top British men and women impacted the all-time lists in Hawaii.
Times, in Kona in particular, are only one element of measuring performances, but the last two years have certainly contributed significantly to this particular data set.
Presented below is the all-time list of British sub 8:45 (Men) and sub 9:30 (Women) performances.
Another year, another second place – and a third consecutive Sub-9 hour finishing time for Lucy Charles-Barclay. Saturday’s time (8:46:44) is also the second fastest finishing time ever from a British woman, surpassed only by Lucy’s performance 12 months ago.
In moving up from ninth place last year to seventh place this time around, Corinne Abraham also recorded her second Sub-9 in Kona to add another record onto this this particular listing. The next addition for the British women – and only the second female Age-Group athlete to make this list – is overall amateur champion, Ruth Purbrook. Her winning time, to the best of my knowledge, was the second fastest female Age-Group time ever in Hawaii – with only another Brit, Catherine Faux (2013), faster.
And finally, while the day certainly didn’t go to plan for Susie Cheetham (19th), it was still the fourth time she has finished quicker than 9:30 at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Another strong performance from Joe Skipper moved him from seventh in 2018 to 6th this time around and, perhaps, it could have been even more had he not suffered a puncture in the late stages of the bike leg. An 8:07:46 finish was still the fourth fastest British time ever.
Such is the depth of talent now, Alistair Brownlee‘s Kona debut of 8:25:03 may only have been good enough for 21st position – but it was still the fifth fastest British time ever, with only David McNamee and Joe Skipper having gone quicker. A similar scenario for Will Clarke. Less than four minutes behind Alistair (25th), his 8:29:00 still makes him the fourth fastest British athlete in Hawaii.
IRONMAN World Championship: British MEN Sub-8:45 in Hawaii History
|2018||7th (in AG 30-34)||Robert Drake||08:44:06|
IRONMAN World Championship: British WOMEN Sub-9:30 Hawaii History
|2013||1st (AG)||Catherine Faux||09:15:16|
|2019||1st (AG)||Ruth Purbrook||09:20:06|
First up, both Lucy Charles (second) and David McNamee (third) both finished in the fastest times ever from British athletes in Hawaii. Not only that, both also broke the previous overall course record times in the process, meaning they are also the second (female) and third (male) fastest athletes in history, respectively, in the 40 years of the IRONMAN World Championship.
For David, it was also – once again – a new Scottish record time for distance. He is – without question – the best British male Ironman athlete in history. The only British man to make the top-three in Kona (now achieved twice), he has still never been beaten by another British athlete over the distance. Still only 30, he should have several more years of contending for the top step.
Joe Skipper had a great day in Hawaii too this year. Possibly his best ever swim set up his day and he finished it off strongly on the run with a 2:54:16 marathon to finish in seventh place (and collect $14,000). His finish time of 8:05:54, in British terms, is second only to David who finished 4:45 in front of him on Saturday.
Also securing a first ever Kona top-10 in ninth position was Corinne Abraham. Third off the bike, she was able to manage a running injury picked up a couple of weeks before the race to finish in ninth (8:57:54), on a day in which the entire women’s Pro top-10 broke the nine-hour mark.
The 2017 edition of the IRONMAN World Championship was certainly a marquee year for British athletes. While success from, in particular, the Female Pro athletes in recent years has been extensive from the likes of Chrissie Wellington, Leanda Cave and Rachel Joyce, the emergence of Lucy Charles (second) and David McNamee (third) was notable not just for being new names to the podium. At just 24 and 29 years of age respectively, they potentially have many more years ahead of them to repeat or improve upon those results.
Such was the impact of those finishes, sometimes other great performances can get overlooked. For example, that David’s finish time this year was (by far) the best from a British athlete in Hawaii was clear; but it was also a new Scottish Ironman record, taking 20 seconds from his time in South Africa earlier in the season.
There were other notable, yet perhaps under the radar, results too. Harry Wiltshire for example – his finishing time of 8:35:41 has only been beaten by two other British athletes in Hawaii, David McNamee and Tom Lowe.
Another top performance came from Susie Cheetham. While Lucy Charles of course grabbed most of the attention from a British perspective in the women’s race, Susie’s result matched her sixth place from two years ago – and was almost eight minutes faster too.
While disappointed with her 15th place finish in her Kona debut, Laura Siddall still cracked the 9:30 mark in Kona which, given the history of the race, is not an easy task.