Starting in 2009 and expanded ever since, I embarked on a project to pull together a variety of iron distance statistics and records.
Links to all of the current reference articles can be found below, which variously cover both an International and a British perspective, finishing times and podium positions.
Part of this was for personal desire – I have a natural affinity to numbers, lists and records. When it comes to sports, I generally seem to have pretty good memory for facts and figures too.
However, in relation to some of the information I was keen to find, I was surprised to find that I couldn’t find data sets that I thought surely someone must have done this already? Apparently not. So, I went off and did it myself…
I’ve already looked at ‘fastest times’ on world level within the Sub-9 (women) and Sub-8 (men) articles, and was keen to investigate that a little further with my British hat on. Now, at least as far as the ladies are concerned – thanks to Chrissie Wellington, Bella Bayliss and Catriona Morrison (and others since I started!) – part of my work was already done.
However, I wanted to look deeper than that, and beyond the barrier of a sub nine hour iron-distance finish, to try and compile a comprehensive list of the fastest British ladies iron-distance times.
What is collated below is my attempt to list every sub-nine hour 15 minute iron distance finish by British female athletes ever recorded.
British female iron distance finishes sub 9 hours 15 minutes
|Chrissie Wellington||South Africa||2011||08:33:56|
|Lucy Charles||Port Elizabeth||2018||08:56:06|
|Chrissie Wellington||Port Macquarie||2009||08:57:10|
|Susie Cheetham||Port Elizabeth||2018||09:02:58|
|Chrissie Wellington||Port Macquarie||2008||09:03:55|
|Susie Cheetham||South Africa||2017||09:04:49|
|Lucy Gossage||New Zealand||2016||09:05:08|
|Rachel Joyce||South Africa||2011||09:08:23|
|Laura Siddall||New Zealand||2016||09:09:08|
|Susie Cheetham||South Africa||2016||09:09:49|
|Lucy Gossage||South Africa||2016||09:11:43|
|Bella Bayliss||Western Australia||2007||09:14:25|
Number of iron distance finishes sub 9 hours 15 minutes by athlete
|Name||No. of sub 9:15 finishes|
Fastest British female iron distance athletes (best time only)
|Chrissie Wellington||Challenge Roth||2011||08:18:13|
|Rachel Joyce||Challenge Roth||2014||08:42:25|
|Lucy Charles||Challenge Roth||2018||08:43:51|
|Catriona Morrison||Challenge Roth||2009||08:48:11|
|Laura Siddall||Challenge Roth||2018||08:48:42|
|Leanda Cave||Ironman Arizona||2011||08:49:00|
|Bella Bayliss||Ironman Austria||2009||08:50:13|
|Susie Cheetham||Ironman Brasil||2017||08:52:00|
|Corinne Abraham||Ironman Euro Champs (Frankfurt)||2014||08:52:40|
|Jodie Swallow||Ironman Kalmar||2013||08:54:01|
|Lucy Gossage||Challenge Barcelona||2012||08:58:43|
|Liz Blatchford||Ironman Hawaii||2013||09:03:35|
|Emma Pallant||Ironman Austria||2018||09:03:59|
|Catherine Faux||Challenge Roth||2014||09:09:47|
|Julie Dibens||Ironman Hawaii||2010||09:10:04|
|Kimberley Morrison||Ironman Barcelona||2017||09:12:49|
British female iron distance record progression
Before we start – and just for absolute clarity (!) – finishing times in any triathlon, and in Ironman/iron-distance in particular only tell part of a story. Courses are different, conditions are different and depending on who you believe, distances can vary too. Thus, work such as these listings is only part of an overall story.
That said, times are a part of that story! Importantly, time is something that everyone ‘gets’, and being the fastest is a common theme among many sporting disciplines.
So, what does this tell us? Well, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to have predicted that Chrissie Wellington dominates this listing with twelve of the top fifty fastest British iron distance times ever.
Indeed, only once ever (Ironman Korea 2007, her first Ironman), has Chrissie not finished in a time of under nine hours and ten minutes. Given that men’s race winner that day (Raynard Tissink) was the only male under 9:15 shows that her performance didn’t reflect a ‘slow start’ to her Ironman career either!
Perhaps the only worrying Chrissie stat I can find is that in her thirteen iron distance starts (and wins), she has actually suffered punctures three times.
In Korea she arrived in T1 to find a flat that needed fixing, Kona 2008 was CO2-gate (!), while even when setting her blistering 8:36 in Arizona, the final miles of the bike were nursed home with a flat tyre. (Even Ironman South Africa 2011 required a tube change in T1 the day prior to the race…).
These figures also show just how consistent Bella Bayliss has been over the past decade, with six Ironman finishes below 9:15. This also included what were at the time British record figures in 2008 and 2009, both at Ironman Austria.
Interestingly, in 2008 Austria fell one week after Ironman Germany, meaning that Chrissie’s new GB best figures of 8:51:24 only lasted a week until Bella improved them by seven seconds.
In 2009 the tables were turned, with Bella improving the British record again to 8:50:13, only for that to be smashed seven days later as Chrissie set not just a British, but a world best at Challenge Roth 2009.
Was that a surprise? No – I’d (almost!) predicted it…. Of course, even that has been resigned to history after Challenge Roth 2010 – and was beaten AGAIN a year later.
Following the Ironman European Championships (Frankfurt) 2013, six other female Brits had broken 9:15 for iron-distance, bringing the total to eight.
Following Kona 2013, Liz Blatchford made that nine and Corinne Abraham brought that into double figures when winning Frankfurt in 2014, Catherine Faux adding another at Challenge Roth 2014, with Susie Hignett at Ironman Barcelona 2014 and Laura Siddall (New Zealand 2016), the lastest additions.
Catriona Morrison’s iron-distance debut of 8:48:11 at Challenge Roth in 2009 was, at the time, the fastest debut ever.
Leanda Cave improved her Ironman PB by over 10 minutes at the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championships – no easy task – and her time in Kona of 9:03:29 made her (at the time), the fourth fastest British female ever. Not content with that, just a month later she smashed her previous best – and won her first Ironman – with a fantastic 8:49:00 finish at Ironman Arizona.
That meant that she leap-frogged Bella Bayliss, to become the third fastest ever Brit having started 2011 with a best time of 9:13:15 and finished over 24 minutes faster. Well, she was the third fastest ever Brit… until the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships, Melbourne (2012), where Rachel Joyce has pushed her back into fourth place on this list.
Rachel Joyce first joined the list with her 9:08:23 for second place behind Muppet in Port Elizabeth, which might have been overshadowed by what was happening in front of her, but it was still a huge PB for the fast improving Joycinator who, after Melbourne 2012 and a stunning 8:46:09, has jumped from fifth to second place on the British all-time list behind Chrissie.
Fourth place in Kona (2011), an ITU World Long Distance Champion and now a very swift Ironman time in a hugely competitive field. The Joyce star is rising. Fast. As if to prove it, Challenge Roth and an 8:45:04 finish is faster again… and in Kona in 2013, she was just one place away from being the Ironman World Champion, becoming only the fourth female (at the time), to finish under nine hours in Hawaii in the process.
A new year, and a new PB – 8:42:25 at Challenge Roth 2014.
A new addition to this list in 2012 was the Duracell Bunny, Lucy Gossage who even stunned herself by winning Challenge Barcelona 2012 with a breakthrough 8:58:43 in Spain.
A new 2013 member of this list – and perhaps overdue given her undoubted potential – is Jodie Swallow, who recorded exactly the same time in finishing second in Frankfurt (2013) as Lucy did in Barcelona when she joined the ‘sub-nine’ club. Six weeks later and Jodie improved on that – and won her first Ironman – at Ironman Kalmar, finishing in a very impressive 8:54:01.
Kona 2013 saw Liz Blatchford, in the third Ironman of her debut season at the full distance finish in 9:03:35 to make the Kona podium at her first attempt. Had she not incurred a four minute penalty (for littering), she might well have made it to Ali’i Drive in under nine hours too.
Despite finishing IRONMAN Frankfurt in 8:51:50 in July 2017, Lucy Charles didn’t make it on to this list (or the Sub-9 archive) since the bike course was shortened pre-race due to road works. That was just a side issue though, more than forgotten by the IRONMAN World Championships three months later when Lucy finished an incredible second on her Pro debut, with an 8:59:38 finish. She’s since beaten that (twice!) in 2018, at IRONMAN South Africa and Challenge Roth.
The latest (and 16th) addition to the list in Emma Pallant, who after a DNF at IRONMAN South Africa in April, returned to full distance racing with third place at IRONMAN Austria 2018.
Sixtenn athletes then, eight of whom are either past or present world champions (and Lucy has a Silver plus Catherine Faux, Laura Siddall and Lucy Charles have multiple Age Group World’s wins) – six of them more than once. Cream rises to the top, whether you are looking at results or times.
Of course, there was also one other good reason for doing all of this research. If Chrissie Wellington has an 8:18:13 finish to her name… where would Chrissie’s best sit in the British men’s ranking? The answer to that one is… HERE!
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].