Sub-8 hour iron men triathletes [UPDATED]

Jan Frodeno winning Challenge Roth in 2016

Hoffman joins the ‘Sub-8 Club’ at Ironman South Africa 2017
FIVE men go Sub-8 at Ironman Texas
TIM DON BREAKS M-DOT BEST AT IRONMAN BRASIL
Jan Frodeno wins IRONMAN Austria
Bart Aernouts joins the club at Challenge Roth

 

So, why bother with this in the first place?

History. History is important. Over time, the performances and results of athletes can readily be forgotten as the next ‘big thing’ comes along and earns the headlines. Personally, I hate to see this happen.

People like records. Athletes and sponsors like records. Perhaps more importantly, the wider public understands records and relative performances. Yet, these can’t exist if there aren’t records and listings to begin with. To have recorded one of the top-10 times ever is a pretty marketable achievement… but you need to know what the 10 best times were beforehand before making such claims!

Geek factor. Ok, I’ll’ admit there is an element of this Editor’s statto factor involved in wanting to put this into place – I love this stuff….and as a student of the sport, I need to know it. Based on the viewing figures on the site, I’m not the only one either.

Is there a value to it? Absolutely. I’ve seen it with my own eyes – the statistics and facts that live within the sub-nine iron ladies piece for example, and never existed previously, are some of the most widely quoted and referenced ironman facts I have seen.

Governing bodies, race organisers, sponsors, athletes, Wikipedia and the wider triathlon press have all utilised its contents. I fully expect the same to happen with this sub-eight men’s feature too. A small credit to Tri247 as the source would be welcome, but I digress…

What follows is a result of the mission to create that history. Of course, if you should know of any others I’ve missed, then send me the details ([email protected]), as my aim is to create the definitive list of sub-eight hour male iron distance finishes.

Progression through the years

2010

Not only did Chrissie Wellington raise the bar at Challenge Roth on 18th July 2010 – and make it it straight to the top of the (updated) sub-9 hour iron ladies list – but Rasmus Henning (7:52:36) and Sebastian Kienle (7:59:06) also became the 12th and 13th members respectively of the sub-8 hour iron distance club.

For a while, the all-time world best of Luc van Lierde (7:50:27) looked like it could be under threat, but the great Dane still recorded the (at the time) fifth fastest iron distance time ever.

2011

Into 2011, and those iconic figures were smashed by Marino Vanhoenacker in Klagenfurt, keeping the world-best time in Belgian hands. Well, for a week anyway! You wait 14 years, break a record… and along comes Andreas Raelert to take the record from 7:45:58 down to 7:41:33 a week later at Challenge Roth.

Andreas, along with Michael Weiss (Ironman Austria 2011), Ronnie Schildknecht (Ironman Florida 2011) and Eneko Llanos (Ironman Arizona 2011) boosted that all-time sub-8 list to include a total of 17 athletes, and the 18th athlete on the list, adding yet another achievement to his glittering CV, is Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Champion Craig Alexander.

2012

Following Challenge Roth 2012 – by just one second – James Cunnama has joined them, the 19th man to record a sub-8 hour iron-distance race.

2013

One year later, same race, and Dirk Bockel (LUX) becomes #20 – while Ironman Florida 2013 added members 21, 22 and 23 in the shape of Victor Del Corral, Andrew Starykowicz and Filip Ospaly.

2014

A new year, 2014, and the speedy Klagenfurt course of Ironman Austria sees Ivan Rana (ESP) and Christian Kramer (GER) join as members 24 and 25 respectively, with Rana recording what was at the time the third fastest time in history of the iron-distance. As 2014 drew to a close, the list grew to 26 as Canada’s Brent McMahon joined the list in his first Ironman (Arizona) – and not only that, his finish time of 7:55:48 is the fastest debut ever.

2015

2015 got off to a flying start with the eight hour mark broken for the first time at Ironman Brazil… by FOUR athletes. Debut names to this list include #27 Timothy O’Donnell (second) and #28 Igor Amorelli (fourth).

2008 Olympic Champion Jan Frodeno joined the list as athlete #29, in Frankfurt, with Challenge Roth seeing three more 7:XX clockings and two new names in Nils Frommhold (#30, first) and David Dellow (#31, third) – with Timo Bracht in second place recording his third career Sub-8. Lionel Sanders becomes Sub-8 #32, courtesy of his win at Ironman Arizona with Sub-8 Club member #33 going to Luke McKenzie at Ironman Western Australia, Busselton.

2016

Brent McMahon started the 2016 Sub-8 quests with a storming time of 7:46:10 in Florianopolis (his third), while at Frankfurt Sebastian Kienle set a personal best of 7:52:43 (his fourth Sub-8, matching Chris McCormack and Marino Vanhoenacker in that regard), and Andi Boecherer (7:53:40) becomes the 34th member of the Sub-8 club.

Challenge Roth delivered more history, as Jan Frodeno has set the fastest time ever (7:35:39), while Joe Skipper in second place (7:56:23) becomes the first Brit under the 8-hour barrier and joins as the 35th member of the Sub-8 club. Nils Frommhold (7:57:49 in third place) recorded his second career Sub-8. Ironman Copenhagen saw Patrik Nillson (SWE) and Will Clarke (GBR) become members #36 and #37 respectively, while Patrik quickly added another at Ironman Barcelona.

Arizona 2016 saw some speedy racing as two Canadians added further to their CV – Lionel Sanders setting the fastest time ever in an IRONMAN™ event (and the third fastest over the distance), and Brent McMahon continuing his consistency to join Chris McCormack, Marino Vanhoenacker and Sebastian Kienle as the athlete to have cracked the eight hour mark four times.

As 2016 draws to an iron-distance close, two national reccords at Ironman Western Australia from Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) and Andy Potts (USA), sees members #38 and #39 added to the list

2017

Ironman South Africa provided an unexpected start to the ‘Sub-8’ season, as Ben Hoffman and Nils Frommhold pushed each other all day under that magical mark. It was a first time for Ben (member #40), while for Nils, that is the third Sub-8 of his career. For the first time EVER, FIVE men finished in 7:XX at Ironman Texas (including first times Matt Hanson, Tyler Butterfield and Kirill Kotsegarov). Tim Don recorded the second fastest iron-distance time ever at IRONMAN Brasil to become member #44. Jan Frodeno extended his Sub-8 record to three in Klagenfurt, while Bart Aernouts (BEL) joined the club at Challenge Roth as member #45

So, as at 9th July 2017: 45 athletes had broken eight hours in an iron-distance race a total of 72 times.

Having updated the ladies sub-9 listing, here is the very latest on the men’s sub-8 equivalent.

Number of sub-eight hour male iron-distance finishes?

Sport and numbers seem to be a perfect marriage. Whatever your sport, or whatever your ability, sooner or later you’ll invariably be creating targets based on time. Whether that’s making the 17-hour Ironman cut-off, running a sub-three hour marathon or beating 25 minutes in your club ’10’, everyone likes to break a barrier and set a personal best.

In recent years the ladies have made sub-nine ‘almost’ normal – both 2008 and 2009 witnessed nine instances each of that barrier being broken with a record 15 finishes below the nine hour mark in 2011 (improved to 21 in 2013 and 23 in 2014!).

For the men, as we’ll see, sub-eight hours for the ironman distance is a tougher nut to crack – though six in 2011 was also a record annual total (since matched in 2013 – and improved again to eleven for 2015 and now 13 in 2016…).

Of course, there is no implied assumption here that ‘8’ and ‘9’ are of equal standing when it comes to ironman, but as history has proven with the four minute mile, a rounded barrier has a certain romance to it. While Roger Bannister may have secured a lot more than 15 minutes of fame in Oxford on 6th May 1954, those who subsequently broke 3:50 and 3:45 don’t have anywhere near that level of public recognition…

Sub-eight hour male iron distance finishes

NameCountryLocationYearTime
Jan FrodenoGERRoth201607:35:39
Tim DonGBRBrasil201707:40:23
Andreas RaelertGERRoth201107:41:33
Lionel SandersCANArizona201607:44:29
Marino VanhoenackerBELKlagenfurt201107:45:58
Brent McMahonCANBrazil201607:46:10
Ivan RanaESPKlagenfurt201407:48:43
Marino VanhoenackerBELKlagenfurt201507:48:45
Patrick NilssonSWECopenhagen201607:49:18
Jan FrodenoGERFrankfurt201507:49:48
Brent McMahonCANArizona201607:50:15
Luc Van LierdeBELRoth199707:50:27
Terenzo BozzoneNZLBusselton201607:51:26
Nils FrommholdGERRoth201507:51:28
Jurgen ZackGERRoth199707:51:42
Peter ReidCANKlagenfurt199907:51:56
Dirk BockelLUXRoth201307:52:01
Marino VanhoenackerBELKlagenfurt201007:52:05
Rasmus HenningDENRoth201007:52:36
Sebastian KienleGERFrankfurt201607:52:43
Matt HansonUSATexas201707:52:44
Victor Del CorralESPFlorida201307:53:12
Andi BoechererGERFrankfurt201607:53:40
Marino VanhoenackerBELBrazil201507:53:44
Chris McCormackAUSRoth200707:54:23
Christian KramerGERKlagenfurt201407:54:31
Andy PottsUSABusselton201607:55:12
Sebastian KienleGERFrankfurt201407:55:14
Andrew StarykowiczUSAFlorida201307:55:22
Patrick NilssonSWEBarcelona201607:55:28
Brent McMahonCANArizona201407:55:48
Michael GohnerGERRoth200907:55:53
Timothy O'DonnellUSABrazil201507:55:56
Luke McKenzieAUSBusselton201507:55:58
Jurgen ZackGERRoth199907:56:00
Timo BrachtGERRoth201407:56:00
Ronnie SchildknechtSUITexas201707:56:21
Joe SkipperGBRRoth201607:56:23
Timo BrachtGERRoth201507:56:31
Lothar LederGERRoth199707:56:39
Brent McMahonCANBrazil201507:56:55
Lothar LederGERRoth199607:57:02
Sebastian KienleGERRoth201107:57:06
Jan FrodenoGERKlagenfurt201707:57:20
Thomas HellriegelGERRoth199707:57:21
Michael WeissAUTKlagenfurt201107:57:39
Craig AlexanderAUSMelbourne201207:57:44
Jan van der MarelNEDAlmere199907:57:46
Nils FrommholdGERRoth201607:57:49
Thomas HellriegelGERRoth199907:57:50
Chris McCormackAUSRoth200407:57:50
Lionel SandersCANArizona201507:58:22
Tyler ButterfieldBERTexas201707:58:29
Ben HoffmanUSAPort Elizabeth201707:58:40
Filip OspalyCZEFlorida201307:58:44
Chris McCormackAUSRoth200507:58:45
Faris Al SultanGERRoth200407:58:57
Will ClarkeGBRTexas201707:59:02
Sebastian KienleGERRoth201007:59:06
Bart AernoutsBELRoth201707:59:07
Timo BrachtGERFrankfurt200907:59:15
David DellowAUSRoth201507:59:28
Nils FrommholdGERPort Elizabeth201707:59:30
Will ClarkeGBRCopenhagen201607:59:31
Kirill KotsegarovESTTexas201707:59:32
Igor AmorelliBRABrazil201507:59:36
Eneko LlanosESPArizona201107:59:38
Ronnie SchildknechtSUIFlorida201107:59:42
Andreas RaelertGERKlagenfurt201307:59:51
Chris McCormackAUSFrankfurt200807:59:55
Eneko LlanosESPFrankfurt201307:59:58
James CunnamaRSARoth201207:59:59

Fastest male iron distance athletes (best time only)

AthleteCountryEventYearTime
Jan FrodenoGERChallenge Roth201607:35:39
Tim DonGBRIronman Brasil201707:40:23
Andreas RaelertGERChallenge Roth201107:41:33
Lionel SandersCANIronman Arizona201607:44:29
Marino VanhoenackerBELIronman Austria201107:45:58
Brent McMahonCANIronman Brazil201607:46:10
Ivan RanaESPIronman Austria201407:48:43
Patrick NilssonSWEIronman Copenhagen201607:49:18
Luc Van LierdeBELIronman Europe (Roth)199707:50:27
Terenzo BozzoneNZLIronman Western Australia201607:51:26
Nils FrommholdGERChallenge Roth201507:51:28
Jurgen ZackGERIronman Europe (Roth)199707:51:42
Peter ReidCANIronman Austria199907:51:56
Dirk BockelLUXChallenge Roth201307:52:01
Rasmus HenningDENChallenge Roth201007:52:36
Sebastian KienleGERIronman Frankfurt201607:52:43
Matt HansonUSAIronman Texas201707:52:44
Victor Del CorralESPIronman Florida201307:53:12
Andi BoechererGERIronman Frankfurt201607:53:40
Chris McCormackAUSChallenge Roth200707:54:23
Christian KramerGERIronman Austria201407:54:31
Andy PottsUSAIronman Western Australia201607:55:12
Andrew StarykowiczUSAIronman Florida201307:55:22
Michael GohnerGERChallenge Roth200907:55:53
Timothy O'DonnellUSAIronman Brazil201507:55:56
Luke McKenzieAUSIronman Western Australia201507:55:58
Timo BrachtGERIronman Frankfurt200907:56:00
Ronnie SchildknechtSUIIronman Texas201707:56:21
Joe SkipperGBRChallenge Roth201607:56:23
Lothar LederGERIronman Europe (Roth)199707:56:39
Thomas HellriegelGERIronman Europe (Roth)199707:57:21
Michael WeissAUTIronman Austria201107:57:39
Craig AlexanderAUSIronman Melbourne201207:57:44
Jan van der MarelNEDAlmere199907:57:46
Tyler ButterfieldBERIronman Texas201707:58:29
Ben HoffmanUSAIronman South Africa201707:58:40
Filip OspalyCZEIronman Florida201307:58:44
Faris Al SultanGERChallenge Roth200907:58:57
Will ClarkeGBRIronman Texas201707:59:02
Bart AernoutsBELChallenge Roth201707:59:07
David DellowAUSChallenge Roth201507:59:28
Kirill KotsegarovESTIronman Texas201707:59:32
Igor AmorelliBRAIronman Brazil201507:59:36
Eneko LlanosESPIronman Arizona201107:59:38
James CunnamaRSAChallenge Roth201207:59:59

Number of sub-eight hour finishes by athlete

AthleteCountrySub 8 Hour Finishes
Chris McCormackAUS4
Marino VanhoenackerBEL4
Sebastian KienleGER4
Brent McMahonCAN4
Timo BrachtGER3
Nils FrommholdGER3
Jan FrodenoGER3
Andreas RaelertGER2
Eneko LlanosESP2
Jurgen ZackGER2
Lothar LederGER2
Thomas HellriegelGER2
Patrik NilssonSWE2
Lionel SandersCAN2
Ronnie SchildknechtSUI2
Will ClarkeGBR2
James CunnamaRSA1
Jan van der MarelNED1
Luc Van LierdeBEL1
Michael GohnerGER1
Michael WeissAUT1
Peter ReidCAN1
Rasmus HenningDEN1
Dirk BockelLUX1
Victor Del CorralESP1
Andrew StarykowiczUSA1
Filip OspalyCZE1
Ivan RanaESP1
Christian KramerGER1
Timothy OÕDonnellUSA1
Igor AmorelliBRA1
Craig AlexanderAUS1
Faris Al SultanGER1
David DellowAUS1
Luke McKenzieAUS1
Andi BoechererGER1
Joe SkipperGBR1
Terenzo BozzoneNZL1
Andy PottsUSA1
Ben HoffmanUSA1
Matt HansonUSA1
Tyler ButterfieldBER1
Kirill KotsegarovEST1
Tim DonGBR1
Bart AernoutsBEL1

Number of sub-eight hour finishes by year

YearSub 8 hour finishes
19961
19974
19980
19994
20000
20010
20020
20030
20042
20051
20060
20071
20081
20092
20103
20116
20122
20136
20145
201511
201613
20178

Number of sub-eight hour finishes by location

LocationSub 8 hour finishes
Roth26
Klagenfurt9
Frankfurt7
Brazil6
Arizona5
Texas5
Florida4
Busselton3
Copenhagen2
Port Elizabeth2
Almere1
Melbourne1
Barcelona1

Commentary

If you want to race a fast ironman distance, go to Roth. While the ladies sub-nine listing showed that Roth was clearly the most likely course for an 8:XX finish, the situation is even more clear cut for the men, with Roth accounting for almost half of the sub-eight finishes ever recorded.

With three sub-eight hour times recorded at Ironman Florida 2013 (all by first-time members to this listing), Panama City Beach looked set to continue its popularity with those seeking an iron-distance PB – though as that is currently an Age-Group only event, perhaps not.

Only once previously in history (Ironman Europe (Roth) 1997) had the eight hour mark been broken by more than three men in the same race, but Ironman Brazil 2015 saw that matched, as only the second time that four athletes has finished under the eight hour mark in one race. Even that was surpassed with five sub-8’s at Ironman Texas 2017.

That a sub-eight for men is ‘harder’ (relatively) than a sub-nine for women would seem to be born out by the statistics.

Firstly, the new fastest time ever recorded by Jan Frodeno (7:35:39) is less than 25 minutes inside the barrier, versus over 40 for Chrissie’s stunning 8:18:13 ladies record.

Secondly, the absolute number of sub-eight’s is significantly lower too, with fewer than half of the sub-nine ladies finishes. And finally, to date, only thirteen venues – Roth, Frankfurt, Klagenfurt, Almere, Florida, Arizona, Florianopolis (Brazil), Melbourne,  Busselton (Western Australia), Copenhagen, Barcelona, Port Elizabeth and Texas, have experienced a male cross the line to see 7:XX on the clock, versus 22 different courses with an 8:XX female finisher.

Australian Chris McCormack has a couple of standout stats to his name. He has four sub-eight clocking’s on his glittering CV, while only thirteen other athletes have managed that achievement more than once.

When you add to that wins at Ironman (twice) and ITU World Championships (Standard and Long Distance), ITU World Cup Champion, five consecutive Ironman Australia wins and wins in virtually all of the major triathlon events around the world, Macca is without doubt one of the greatest athletes in the history of triathlon.

Roth 1997 may well be one of the most amazing races in triathlon history. As well as the site of the Luc Van Lierde’s 14 year long world best, German athletes Jurgen Zack, Lothar Leder and Thomas Hellriegel all broke the eight hour mark that day too – meaning that Thomas didn’t even make the podium despite recording 7:57:21. Ouch!

Roth 2010 saw Sebastian Kienle (GER) finish second, 7:59:06 in his first ever iron distance attempt. This made it the fastest iron debut ever, the equivalent of Mary Beth Ellis’ effort at Austria 2011 when she won her first Ironman in 8:43:35.

In 2011 Kienle finished second again at Roth, this time two minutes quicker making it two sub-8’s without a victory! However, I believe that Filip Ospaly’s 7:58:44 at Ironman Florida 2013 represented his first iron-distance start, which then made him the new ‘fastest on debut’ record holder. That honour now belongs to Brent McMahon (7:55:48) following Ironman Arizona 2014.

Despite having finished fourth and third at Kona in 2012 and 2013 respectively, Kienle had never actually won an Ironman race until he managed to tick that box at the Ironman European Champs in 2014 (Frankfurt).

He did so with a personal best time (and course record) of 7:55:14, which made him second only to Chris McCormack in terms of number of Sub-8’s. Oh, and he then went on to win in Kona! Another win in Frankfurt (2016) saw both a PB time and a fourth Sub-8.

With a big return to fitness and form at Ironman Brazil 2015, Marino Vanhoenacker improved his C.V. to include three 7:XX finishes to his name. Just four weeks later at Ironman Austria – where he had previously won six consecutive times – Marino added a seventh title, and did so in a time of 7:48:45.

That is currently the seventh fastest iron-distance time ever. It also created two interesting statistics. Firstly, Marino is now joint top of the ‘most Sub-8’s’ list, joining Chris McCormack (and now Sebastian Kienle) on four. It was also the first time that any athlete had ever managed the feat twice in one year – in Marino’s case, it was twice in four weeks… impressive.

While Nils Frommhold (GER) and David Dellow (AUS) joined the list at Challenge Roth 2015, the second place of Timo Bracht (GER) in 7:56:31 is his third sub-eight hour performance.

After Brent McMahon’s speedy time at Ironman Brazil 2016, he had three sub-nine’s too – but he’s now joined McCormack, Kienle and Vanhoenacker on four, following Ironman Arizona 2016 (as well as the small club of “two sub-8’s in one season”).

Nine-time Ironman Switzerland winner Ronnie Schildknecht recorded the first ever sub-8 finish at Ironman Florida 2011. That was the first sub eight hour finish in North America. We didn’t have to wait long for the second North American sub-8, achieved by Eneko Llanos at Ironman Arizona – and plenty more have followed since.

2012 saw two men under the eight hour mark – both for the first time – with Craig Alexander taking the inaugural Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship on home soil in Melbourne, and James Cunnama adding his name to the list of Challenge Roth winners. 7:59:59, great timing!

2013 had six 7:XX’s, with both Andreas Raelert (Austria) and Eneko Llanos (Frankfurt), sneaking under the eight hours by just nine and two seconds respectively.

Dirk Bockel smashed through the barrier for his debut on the list with 7:52:01 at Challenge Roth, will the top three at Ironman Florida (Del Corral, Starykowicz and Ospaly) all broke the course record of Ronnie Schildknecht. Andrew Starykowicz also broke his own Ironman bike split record (4:02:17) on the way to becoming the first U.S. male the break the eight hour mark.

2014’s first additions to the list came at Ironman Austria, where race winner Ivan Rana won in the third fastest iron-distance time ever, with Christian Kramer (7:54:31) coming home in second place for a huge PB, with Kienle adding the third of the year in Frankfurt, where Ironman World Champ Frederik Van Lierde just missed out when taking second place in 8:00:25.

The latest editions are the race winning 7:56:00 of Timo Bracht at Challenge Roth – his first victory in Roth, and a new personal best time and the Ironman Arizona victory of Brent McMahon.

2015 has started with Marino, Timothy O’Donnell (his first), Brent McMahon (his second) and Igor Amorelli (his first) all breaking eight hours on a super fast day at Ironman Brazil, now added to by Marino’s monster effort in Klagenfurt.

Number six of the year – which matched previous records, with six months of racing still to come – saw Jan Frodeno smash a 7:49:48 in Frankfurt. Those records have now been well and truly destroyed with Frommhold, Bracht and Dellow bringing the 2015 total to nine – and for the first time we reach double figures in one year thanks to Lionel Sanders at Ironman Arizona, now improved to eleven thanks to Luke McKenzie in Busselton.

2016 so far – Brent McMahon (Brazil, 7:46:10), plus Sebastian Kienle (7:52:43) and Andi Boecherer (7:53:40) in Frankfurt…. and then, wow, CHALLENGE ROTH! Before the race, Jan Frodeno (world record) and Joe Skipper (British record and Sub-8), had both made their bold objectives very public – and both delivered.

Stunning performances. Nils Frommhold still went Sub-8 for third place. We are now up to nine for the year after Ironman Copenhagen (Nilsson and Clarke) and Ironman Barcelona (Patrik Nilsson again), revised upwards again to 11 (Sanders and McMahon), following Ironman Arizona and – finally (?) – 13 courtesy of Bozzone and Potts at Ironman Western Australia.

Member #40 is Ben Hoffman,, courtesy of his title defence at Ironman South Africa, while members #41, #42 and #43 are Matt Hanson (1st), Tyler Butterfield (3rd) and Kirill Kotsegarov (5th) at Ironman Texas. Ronnie Schildknecht and Will Clarke (2nd and 4th), both set PB’s in record their second 7:XX finishes.

Member #44 – in the fastest M-Dot Ironman yet – is Great Britain’s Tim Don. English, British and Ironman record of 7:40:23.


Tri247 Iron-Distance Statistics Library

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