The 2014 season saw a record number of 23 instances of female athletes breaking the nine-hour barrier for the iron-distance. It also saw another milestone fall, as in winning Ironman Western Australia, Britta Martin became the 50th name on to the Sub-9 Club list.
2015 didn’t quite match that total (20), but 2016 has started earlier than expected, with the first sub-nine clocking ever at Ironman New Zealand from Meredith Kessler to which #2 is a third career sub-nine from Elizabeth Lyles in Brasil. Klagenfurt and Roth have, in typical style, accelerated the year-to-date total to nine – including a performance second only to the legendary Chrissie Wellington. And there were pleny more to follow after Roth too, bringing the 2016 total to 17.
It was – and will continue to be – widely written and reported that Chrissie Wellington “re-wrote the record books” at Challenge Roth in 2010, recording a breathtaking time of 8:19:13 for the iron distance. A year later, she did it again!
Well, here is one of those “record books”, and it too has been re-written once again.
The Ironman World Championships 2011 was the first time that two women had finished under nine hours in the same Kona race – and that meant that Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae and Paula Newby Fraser each had two 8:XX Kona clocking’s each of the six instances it had ever been achieved on the big island ahead of the 2013 edition.
In 2013 Carfrae took her second Ironman World Championship in a course record time of 8:52:14, while Rachel Joyce also joined the “sub-9 at Kona club”. Carfrae now stands alone with the most sub-nine hour times in Kona, with three.
Four has now become five, following the 8:57:57 from Daniela Ryf in winning Hawaii in 2015, and she added another – in course record time – retaining her World Championship title in 2016.
Ironman Austria 2011 saw an all-time World Record from Marino Vanhoenacker in the men’s race, which slightly overshadowed a fantastic win in the ladies race from Mary Beth-Ellis. Her 8:43:35 replaced the 2009 8:48:11 of Catriona Morrison (Challenge Roth) as the fastest debut iron-distance time ever and is currently ranked as the 17th fastest iron-distance time ever.
She was followed home by Erika Csomor, Diana Riesler and Heleen Bij de Vaate who all broke the nine hour mark. Thus, Austria 2011 was only the third time ever (after Roth 2008 and 2009), that four ladies have recorded sub-nine hour times in one event. That then became four – as Joyce, Tajsich, Gajer and Crawford all broke nine hours at Roth 2012, where Gina joined the select group of ladies that have recorded three or more sub-nine times.
That record was surpassed – at Ironman Austria 2014, when for the first time in one race, FIVE female athletes finished under the nine hour barrier.
As at 22nd April 2016, 64 women have now finished an iron-distance triathlon with an 8:XX:XX clocking, and we now have 152 sub-9 female finishes recorded.
Number of sub-nine hour ladies 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.
And, following the excitement from Quelle Challenge Roth (2009), and the fantastic world best figures of Chrissie Wellington, I thought it was a great opportunity to look, in depth, at ladies iron-distance performances. Recording a ‘sub-nine’ (hours) time for ladies, is a natural goal for many of the elite athletes in our sport, (just as going ‘sub-eight‘ is for men), but, how often has it been done?
I didn’t know. I researched extensively, and as far as I could see, nobody else knew either. I even found websites dedicated to this very subject – and realised I knew more than them anyway!
And so, it started… many hours of head-scratching, web surfing and historic magazine research – too many hours! – and I realised, not quickly enough, that I’d embarked on an “I’d started, so I had to finish mission”. This definitely comes with a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning. But I digress.
What follows is a result of that mission. Should you think I’ve missed any, please send me the details ([email protected]), as my aim is to create the definitive list of sub-nine hour female iron distance finishes. The only downside of all of this work? I then had to do the same task for the sub-eight hour men!
Sub-Nine Hour Female Iron Distance Finishes
|Chrissie Wellington||GBR||Port Elizabeth||2011||08:33:56|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Florida||2013||08:43:07|
|Mary Beth Ellis||USA||Klagenfurt||2011||08:43:35|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2008||08:45:48|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2013||08:46:22|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Barcelona||2015||08:46:44|
|Daniela Ryf||SUI||Port Elizabeth||2017||08:47:02|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2016||08:49:35|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||Roth||1994||08:50:53|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2015||08:50:53|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Arizona||2016||08:51:27|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Florida||2012||08:51:35|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2007||08:51:55|
|Kaisa Lehtonen||FIN||Port Elizabeth||2017||08:52:26|
|Mary Beth Ellis||USA||Texas||2012||08:54:58|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||Roth||1992||08:55:00|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||Hawaii||1992||08:55:28|
|Meredith Kessler||USA||New Zealand||2016||08:56:08|
|Heleen Bij de vaate||NED||Klagenfurt||2011||08:56:12|
|Chrissie Wellington||GBR||Port Macquarie||2009||08:57:10|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Almere||2007||08:57:54|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||Hawaii||1993||08:58:23|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Melbourne||2015||08:58:58|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Roth||2014||08:59:36|
Fastest Female Iron Distance Athletes (Best Time Only)
|Chrissie Wellington||GBR||Challenge Roth||2011||08:18:13|
|Daniela Ryf||SUI||Challenge Roth||2016||08:22:04|
|Caroline Steffen||SUI||Ironman Melbourne||2012||08:34:51|
|Eva Wutti||AUT||Ironman Copenhagen||2013||08:37:36|
|Mirinda Carfrae||AUS||Challenge Roth||2014||08:38:53|
|Rebekah Keat||AUS||Challenge Roth||2009||08:39:24|
|Carrie Lester||AUS||Challenge Roth||2016||08:42:14|
|Rachel Joyce||GBR||Challenge Roth||2014||08:42:25|
|Linsey Corbin||USA||Ironman Austria||2014||08:42:42|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||Ironman Florida||2013||08:43:07|
|Mary Beth Ellis||USA||Ironman Austria||2011||08:43:35|
|Meredith Kessler||USA||Ironman Arizona||2015||08:44:00|
|Erica Csomor||HUN||Challenge Roth||2008||08:47:05|
|Sandra Wallenhorst||GER||Ironman Austria||2008||08:47:26|
|Catriona Morrison||GBR||Challenge Roth||2009||08:48:11|
|Kaisa Lehtonen||FIN||Ironman Barcelona||2015||08:48:40|
|Leanda Cave||GBR||Ironman Arizona||2011||08:49:00|
|Ashley Clifford||USA||Ironman Florida||2013||08:49:03|
|Simone Brndli||SUI||Ironman Austria||2014||08:49:16|
|Sonja Tajsich||GER||Challenge Roth||2012||08:49:47|
|Bella Bayliss||GBR||Ironman Austria||2009||08:50:13|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||Ironman Europe (Roth)||1994||08:50:53|
|Julia Gajer (nee Wagner)||GER||Challenge Roth||2013||08:51:04|
|Lori Bowden||CAN||Ironman Austria||2002||08:51:22|
|Laura Siddall||GBR||Challenge Roth||2016||08:51:59|
|Amanda Stevens||USA||Ironman Arizona||2015||08:52:31|
|Corinne Abraham||GBR||Ironman European Champs (Frankfurt)||2014||08:52:40|
|Melissa Hauschildt||AUS||Ironman Melbourne||2015||08:52:51|
|Lisa Htthaler||AUT||Ironman Austria||2014||08:53:20|
|Diana Riesler||GER||Ironman Austria||2011||08:53:35|
|Kate Allen||AUT||Ironman Austria||2003||08:54:01|
|Jodie Swallow||GBR||Ironman Kalmar||2013||08:54:01|
|Elisabeth Gruber||AUT||Ironman Barcelona||2015||08:54:03|
|Elizabeth Lyles||USA||Ironman Brasil (South American Champs)||2016||08:54:10|
|Astrid Stienen||GER||Ironman Barcelona||2016||08:54:27|
|Kelly Williamson||USA||Ironman Texas||2014||08:54:42|
|Angela Naeth||CAN||Ironman Chattanooga||2014||08:54:55|
|Jessica Jacobs||USA||Ironman Florida||2011||08:55:10|
|Anja Beranek||GER||Challenge Roth||2015||08:55:19|
|Thea Sybesma||NED||Ironman Europe (Roth)||1991||08:55:29|
|Camilla Pedersen||DEN||Ironman European Champs (Frankfurt)||2013||08:56:01|
|Ines Estedt||GER||Euro Champs Ð Detern/Jumme||1995||08:56:05|
|Heleen Bij De Vaate||NED||Ironman Austria||2011||08:56:12|
|Jodie Robertson||USA||Ironman Texas||2017||08:56:32|
|Britta Martin||NZL||Ironman Western Australia||2014||08:56:34|
|Sara Gross||CAN||Ironman Brasil||2014||08:56:41|
|Eimear Mullan||IRL||Ironman Barcelona||2015||08:56:51|
|Sofie Gooes||BEL||Ironman Austria||2014||08:57:08|
|Gina Ferguson||NZL||Challenge Roth||2008||08:57:18|
|Malindi Elmore||CAN||Ironman Arizona||2016||08:57:22|
|Michi Herlbauer||AUT||Ironman Austria||2016||08:57:23|
|Michelle Vesterby||DEN||Ironman Arizona||2013||08:57:24|
|Lucie Reed||CZE||Challenge Barcelona||2013||08:57:34|
|Mareen Hufe||GER||Ironman Western Australia||2016||08:57:36|
|Belinda Granger||AUS||Challenge Roth||2008||08:58:08|
|Joanna Lawn||NZL||Challenge Roth||2007||08:58:25|
|Nina Kraft||GER||Ironman Frankfurt||2004||08:58:37|
|Lucy Gossage||GBR||Challenge Barcelona||2012||08:58:43|
|Sarah Piampiano||USA||Ironman Western Australia||2016||08:58:51|
|Ariane Monitceli||BRA||Ironman Latin American Championship||2015||08:59:08|
|Sue Latshaw||USA||Ironman Europe (Roth)||1997||08:59:31|
|Edith Niederfriniger||ITA||Ironman Austria||2008||08:59:45|
Athlete & Race Analysis
|Name||Country||Sub 9 hour finishes|
|Yvonne van Vlerken||NED||12|
|Julia Gajer (ne Wagner)||GER||4|
|Gina Crawford (ne Ferguson)||NZL||4|
|Paula Newby Fraser||USA||4|
|Mary Beth Ellis||USA||2|
|Heleen Bij de vaate||NED||1|
|Year||Sub 9 hour finishes|
|Location||Sub 9 hour finishes|
Not surprisingly, Roth wins in terms of course speed. Thirty three sub-nine’s in the past ten races (2007-2016), 38 in total, the four fastest times ever plus six of the top-10…
However Ironman Austria (Klagenfurt) comes closest now with 22 following the 2016 edition. Roth was also the venue of the first ever sub-nine clocking from Thea Sybesma (NED) in 1991, in what at the time was ‘Ironman Europe’.
Following Chrissie’s quite staggering performances at Roth 2009, Roth in 2010 and Roth 2011, added to her figures from Ironmans Arizona and South Africa, Chrissie held the five fastest iron-distance times ever.
Those top five times, along with her Kona course record (2009) were all achieved in consecutive races…which she followed up with arguably her greatest performance ever at the 2011 Ironman World Championships, even if it wasn’t (quite!) a Kona record. Quite a form line.
Want some more Chrissie stats? 2011 was the second time (2009 being the first) that Chrissie has achieved three sub-nine hour finishes in one year.
Indeed, you have to go back to Kona 2008 for the last time Chrissie didn’t finish with 8:XX on the clock – and that was the year that she spent 10+ minutes on the side of the road with a puncture… and still won with a finish time of 9:06:23. It’s now eight consecutive sub-nine finishes 2009-2011 inclusive (and nine in total). Raising the bar for sure – though no more following Chrissie’s Ironman retirement.
In 2008, Chrissie Wellington received much comment about celebrating ‘too much’ on the run-in to the line in Frankfurt, and thus missing the then world best of Paula Newby-Fraser (8:50:53).
Things have moved on so quickly that Chrissie’s 8:51:24 from that race doesn’t even make the top-40 now anyway – and following Daniela Ryf’s 2015 efforts, it isn’t even the course record any longer!
The performance of Cat Morrison at Roth 2009 was surpassed by Mary Beth Ellis as the fastest debut iron-distance performance following her Klagenfurt 2011 win (8:43:35).
That said, Eva Wutti’s 8:37:36 at Ironman Copenhagen 2013 was her first Ironman finish – but not technically a debut, having been a DNF earlier in the year at Ironman Austria.
Eva has since added a second entry to this listing with another win, this time at Challenge Barcelona 2013 (8:51:01), a third at the same race (this time under ‘Ironman Barcelona’ branding) to defend that title a year later in a new course record of 8:49:21 – and now a fourth on home soil at Ironman Austria 2015.
American Krista Whelen missed out on this list my just one second – she recorded nine hours exactly in 1992 at Roth. Ironically, for 17 years her bike time of 4:45:59 that day was the fastest women’s Ironman bike split – smashed by Chrissie with a 4:40:28 at Roth 2009, and then again (4:36:33) in 2010.
Chrissie’s marathon (2:48:54) was also a world’s best… until 10th July 2011 when she improved that yet again to 2:44:35. That bike mantle has now been taken by Caroline Steffen though, her 4:35:29 (Melbourne 2012) is now the gold standard, though Yvonne Van Vlerken was just 20 seconds short of that at Ironman Florida 2013. All change following Roth 2016 – Daniela Ryf producing a stunning 4:31:29 bike split. That, is, fast.
Though somewhat lost in the majesty of the world best ahead of her at Roth in 2010, Rebekah Keat in second place (8:52:10) still recorded what is currently the 56th best time in history, and she also became one of just 11 (at the time, it’s now 34…) athletes to have broken the nine hour mark more than once, to which she then added another at Challenge Copenhagen just weeks later.
Another sub-9 at Challenge Roth 2011 brought her total to four and with a second consecutive win at Challenge Copenhagen 2011 (8:52:42), she moved past the legendary Paula Newby Fraser and into sole second place on the ‘most sub-9’s’ rankings with five.
Yvonne Van Vlerken recorded her first sub-9 clocking for more than four years when winning Ironman Florida 2012, which was the fourth time she has achieved that, leaving her tied for third place (with Paula Newby Fraser) behind Chrissie Wellington (nine) and Rebekah Keat (five) in the “most sub-9 finishes” all-time list.
Not content with that, Yvonne came within seconds of her own PB figures while finishing second to Caroline Steffen at Challenge Roth 2013 (8:46:22) to join Rebekah Keat on five sub-nine’s, only to then recorded her best ever time (8:43:07) when winning Ironman Florida 2013, just weeks after taking fourth place at Kona.
That was six, but with Challenge Roth 2014 (8:59:36) and now Melbourne 2015, Yvonne Van Vlerken was just one short of Chrissie’s record, with eight sub-nine finishes to her name. No longer… as another Challenge Roth victory in 2015 means that Yvonne now pulled level with Chrissie, only to become the first woman into double figures with her tenth sub-nine finish at Ironman Barcelona 2015. She is showing no signs of stopping and is now up to eleven following Challenge Roth 2016 and twelve at Ironman Arizona 2016.
Erika Csomor made it three sub-nine clocking’s at Ironman Austria 2011 (and added a fourth in 2013 at the same event…. and then a fifth at Ironman Florida!), while Gina Crawford (née Ferguson) made it three for her at Challenge Roth 2012 and four at Ironman Frankfurt 2014.
Rachel Joyce achieved her third at Ironman Texas 2013 a fourth at the Ironman World Champs 2013 and a fifth at Challenge Roth 2014, where third placed Caroline Steffen has matched her with five. (One ‘might’ (!) argue that it should/could be six – but her win at Ironman Cozumel in 2013 was on a shortened swim course due to sea conditions).
Steffen sat alone in third place in the ‘most Sub-9’s’ with six, following her third place in Melbourne 2015.
The 36th name to join the ‘Sub-9 Club’ was Lucie Reed, Challenge Barcelona 2013 (second place, 8:57:34), with the 37th member Ashley Clifford with second place (8:49:03) at Ironman Florida 2013.
Members 38 and 39 came via Ironman Arizona 2013 via Meredith Kessler (second place, 8:55:47) and Michelle Vesterby (third, 8:57:24). Elizabeth Lyles, winner Ironman Western Australia 2013 was the 40th time on the list while more recent additions are (#41), Kelly Williamson courtesy of a win (8:54:42) at Ironman Texas 2014 and (#42), Sara Gross at Ironman Brasil (8:56:35).
Ironman Austria 2014 added four more names. While Linsey Corbin won in 8:42:42 (a PB time, and her second Sub-9, currently ranked as the 12th fastest time on record), positions two thru five in that race saw four more Sub-9 club members in Simone Brändli (#43), Lisa Hütthaler (#44), Sofie Goos (#45) and Michi Herlbauer (#46).
The very latest additions to the listing is include yet another fast British athlete, as Corinne Abraham’s 8:52:40 at Ironman Frankfurt makes her member #47.
Behind her, Gina Crawford (her fourth) and Elizabeth Lyles (her second), added to their totals. Member #48 goes to Daniela Ryf, thanks to her 8:53:33 and second Ironman victory, at Ironman Copenhagen 2014, #49 is Angela Naeth (Ironman Chattanooga 2014), #50 is Britta Martin, winner at Ironman Western Australia 2014 and the latest new names from 2015 are, #51, Melissa Hauschildt (Melbourne), #52, Ariane Moniticeli (Brazil), #53, Carrie Lester (Roth), #54, Anja Beranek (Roth), #’s 55-57 (Kaisa Lehtonen, Elisabeth Gruber and Eimear Mullan) at Ironman Barcelona and #58 is Amanda Stevens (Arizona).
Athlete #59 and #60 to this list (Laura Siddall (Roth 2016) and Astrid Stienen (Barcelona 2016) are both ‘first timers’ in 2016, while #61 is Malindi Elmore (CAN) at Ironman Arizona 2016, with Mareen Hufe and Sarah Piampiano (both Ironman Western Australia), members #62 and #63 respectively.
Something new – Daniela Ryf becomes the first female athlete to break the 9-hour barrier twice in a week, following Challenge Roth and Ironman Switzerland. Would that impact her efforts in Kona – not at all, as she went on to break the course record and defend her title in Hawaii.
Following Ironman South Africa 2017 she now has seven career sub-nine hour finishes.
After winning Ironman Texas, Jodie Robertson joined the Sub-9 Club as member #64, with Michi Herlbauer recording her third 8:XX for second place.
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
Do you believe there is a performance missing here? If so, please do let me know via [email protected].