Alistair Brownlee wins IRONMAN Ireland (Duathlon)

Cold and wet conditions see IRONMAN Ireland turned into a duathlon - where Alistair Brownlee and Emma Bilham become the inaugural champions in Cork

Chief Correspondent
Last updated -
T100 Triathlon World Tour
Redefining triathlon

Double Olympic Champion secures 2019 Kona start with debut IRONMAN title


Emma Bilham takes her first IRONMAN win in cold and wet conditions in Cork

“I was quite enjoying it up to about 30km on the run… but that final 10km was not much fun at all!”. That was Alistair Brownlee’s post-race comment after starting (and winning) his first IRONMAN triathlon today. There is only one Kona slot each for the male and female Pro athletes, and Brownlee confirmed he would be taking it. One thing we can be pretty sure of, is that he will find very different conditions in Hawaii in early October.

Pre-warned on Saturday that there would be changes – and the very least a reduction – in the swim course due to the current and forecast weather conditions, the result on race morning was no swim for anyone. The race would go ahead as a bike-run duathlon, the Pro athletes set off at 30 second intervals, and then the Age-Groupers released over an extended period to reduce congestion / drafting in the early portion of the ride. If the images from Cork were anything to go by, it really did look wet, cold and pretty miserable. Anyone in the Expo selling gloves, overshoes and close-fitting wet weather gear on Saturday would likely have had a very good trading day.

Everyone has to play the cards they are dealt – and sometimes those cards just happen to be in your favour. For Irish athlete, Bryan McCrystal, a powerhouse on the bike who does not excel in the same manner in the water, circumstances helped – and he was not going to let the chance go. Starting as one of the early riders, he was soon at the front alone and giving it full beans. Not caring for reputations, he put out a bike split of around 4:36 (exact times to be confirmed, once start adjustments made), with Markus Thomschke (GER) 4:48-ish and Brownlee around 4:50. If Brownlee wanted to win, McCrystal was going to make him work for it.

Brownlee soon moved into second and through the first 25km he had closed 12 minutes on the home athlete. With the start-time offsets, he was moving towards first on virtual time, and 5km or so later would pass him on the road. Alistair was looking tired over the final 10km, but held it together and joined the iron-club to take the win, the $8,000 first prize and the one Kona slot on offer. He confirmed immediately after the race that he intends to accept it and will be racing in Hawaii later this year. Alistair finished with a 2:51:31 marathon, provisionally the best of the day.

The women’s Pro race saw six athletes start, and two of the favourites – Linsey Corbin (USA) and Anja Ippach (GER) – would fall victim to the conditions and not finish. Corbin, who said that she prefers warm races but had chosen to race in Ireland as a challenge, suffered on the bike course and once in T2, made the decision that her day was done.

Germany’s Anja Ippach was actually first onto the run course, around four minutes up on Emma Bilham (SUI), but within the first 5km her day would be over due to a back injury, perhaps impacted by the conditions, soon after being passed by the Swiss athlete.

Bilham looked in total control on the run – compact, powerful and very efficient, and was simply running away from everyone with every stride. 3:16:16 was a marathon time, leaving her almost 30 minutes clear at the finish. A winner of the Alpe d’Huez Long Course and Cannes International Triathlon, Bilham is clearly an athlete who excels on tough courses and challenging conditions.

IRONMAN Ireland, Cork – Sunday 23rd June 2019
112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run (swim cancelled due to cold water / weather conditions)

(NOTE – final times subject to confirmation)


1st – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 7:44:16
2nd – Bryan McCrystal (IRL) – 7:49:55
3rd – Markus Thomschke (GER) – 7:58:10
4th – Justin Metzler (USA) – 8:08:10
5th – Seppe Odeyn (BEL) – 8:08:45


1st – Emma Bilham (SUI) – 8:50:18
2nd – Pleuni Hooijman (NED) – 9:19:50
3rd – Amanda Wendorff (USA) – 9:28:32
4th – Michelle Heneghan (IRL) – 9:50:01

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
Discover more
Kate Auld riding on an indoor trainer
Rouvy vs Zwift: our indoor cyclists put them to the test
Triathlete riding a time trial bike wearing a Ryzon tri suit
Tri suit buying guide: how to find your perfect tri suit
Cameron Brown signs off with seventh in his 25th and final appearance at IRONMAN New Zealand photo credit Graeme Murray
What is an average & good time for a triathlon?
Professional triathletes on the bike course at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam
Fastest triathlon courses: Best IRONMAN, long course and middle distance races for a sure-fire personal best
PTO European Open 2023 Ibiza - Ashleigh Gentle
Ashleigh Gentle on T100 racing: ‘The best battles are yet to come’
latest News
Magnus Ditlev en route to another famous win at Challenge Roth 2023
Magnus Ditlev talks triathlon legends, T100 Tour calendar and who he can’t wait to race in 2024
Ben Kanute Escape from Alcatraz 2021
Latest T100 Triathlon World Tour stop announced after PTO unveil iconic location for California race
Mike Phillips IRONMAN New Zealand champion 2023 photo credit Graeme Murray
International stars announced for 40th anniversary of IRONMAN New Zealand
Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee 2023 - Photo Credit José Luis Hourcade / Challenge Walchsee 2023
German rising star looking to finally crack PTO podium at 2024 T100 Triathlon World Tour
Kenji Nener at the 2023 Asian Games.
The Norwegian Method: Kenji Nener reveals what it’s like to train with Blummenfelt and Iden
Story to tell?
Share interesting & inspirational stories with our news team
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

Share to...