Britain’s fastest iron-distance women

Chrissie Wellington Ironman world champion

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

NameEventYearTotal
Chrissie WellingtonRoth201108:18:13
Chrissie WellingtonRoth201008:19:13
Chrissie WellingtonRoth200908:31:59
Chrissie WellingtonSouth Africa201108:33:56
Chrissie WellingtonArizona201008:36:13
Rachel JoyceRoth201408:42:25
Rachel JoyceRoth201208:45:04
Rachel JoyceMelbourne201208:46:09
Catriona MorrisonRoth200908:48:11
Leanda CaveArizona201108:49:00
Rachel JoyceTexas201308:49:14
Bella BaylissKlagenfurt200908:50:13
Bella BaylissKlagenfurt200808:51:17
Chrissie WellingtonFrankfurt200808:51:24
Laura SiddallRoth201608:51:59
Susie CheethamBrasil201708:52:00
Corinne AbrahamFrankfurt201408:52:40
Jodie SwallowKalmar201308:54:01
Chrissie WellingtonHawaii200908:54:02
Chrissie WellingtonHawaii201108:55:08
Leanda CaveKalmar201408:56:50
Chrissie WellingtonPort Macquarie200908:57:10
Rachel JoyceHawaii201308:57:28
Catriona MorrisonTexas201108:57:51
Leanda CaveTexas201508:58:12
Lucy GossageBarcelona201308:58:43
Jodie SwallowFrankfurt201308:58:43
Leanda CaveHawaii201109:03:29
Susie HignettBarcelona201409:03:32
Liz BlatchfordHawaii201309:03:35
Chrissie WellingtonPort Macquarie200809:03:55
Rachel JoyceHawaii201409:04:23
Susie CheethamSouth Africa201709:04:49
Rachel JoyceTexas201509:05:02
Lucy GossageNew Zealand201609:05:08
Jodie SwallowCairns201609:06:18
Chrissie WellingtonHawaii200809:06:23
Corinne AbrahamCozumel201509:06:40
Rachel JoyceHawaii201109:06:57
Bella BaylissFlorida200809:07:48
Rachel JoyceSouth Africa201109:08:23
Jodie SwallowFrankfurt201409:08:44
Chrissie WellingtonHawaii200709:08:45
Laura SiddallNew Zealand201609:09:08
Catherine FauxRoth201409:09:47
Susie CheethamSouth Africa201609:09:49
Julie DibensHawaii201009:10:04
Leanda CaveArizona201609:10:41
Rachel JoyceHawaii201509:10:59
Lucy GossageSouth Africa201609:11:43
Corinne AbrahamTexas201509:12:20
Leanda CaveCozumel201509:13:29
Rachel JoyceBoulder201709:13:32
Bella BaylissFlorida200709:13:34
Catherine FauxVichy201609:13:40
Leanda CaveArizona201009:13:50
Bella BaylissFlorida200909:13:52
Bella BaylissWestern Australia200709:14:25

Number of iron distance finishes sub 9 hours 15 minutes by athlete

NameNo. of sub 9:15 finishes
Chrissie Wellington12
Rachel Joyce11
Leanda Cave7
Bella Bayliss6
Jodie Swallow4
Susie Cheetham4
Corinne Abraham3
Lucy Gossage3
Catriona Morrison2
Laura Siddall2
Catherine Faux2
Julie Dibens1
Liz Blatchford1

Fastest British female iron distance athletes (best time only)

NameEventYearBest Time
Chrissie WellingtonChallenge Roth201108:18:13
Rachel JoyceChallenge Roth201408:42:25
Catriona MorrisonChallenge Roth200908:48:11
Leanda CaveIronman Arizona201108:49:00
Bella BaylissIronman Austria200908:50:13
Laura SiddallChallenge Roth201608:51:59
Susie CheethamIronman Brasil201708:52:00
Corinne AbrahamIronman Euro Champs (Frankfurt)201408:52:40
Jodie SwallowIronman Kalmar201308:54:01
Lucy GossageChallenge Barcelona201208:58:43
Liz BlatchfordIronman Hawaii201309:03:35
Catherine FauxChallenge Roth201409:09:47
Julie DibensIronman Hawaii201009:10:04

British female iron distance record progression

British women's iron-distance record

Commentary

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.

Thirteen athletes then, seven of whom are either past or present world champions (and Lucy has a Silver plus Catherine Faux and Laura Siddall have multiple Age Group World’s wins) – five 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

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