Triathlon is a tricky multidiscipline event which requires both mental and physical strength. This is most tested when competing over the Ironman distance. Consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon, an ironman distance tri is not for the faint hearted.
The average finishing time is 13h35m for women and 12h35m for men. However, on 5 June, the first Sub7/Sub8 race took place in Derka Lausitring, Germany. The event was a draft-legal race in which four top athletes could use pacemakers across all three disciplines to break the seven-hour barrier for men, and eight-hour for women.
Britain’s Katrina Matthews broke the previous women’s ironman record finishing in a time of 7:13:45. Norwegian reigning world champion, Blummenfelt, also saw record breaking success, finishing in a time of 6:44:25.
On the day, all athletes went under their respective barriers. Nichola Spirig finished over three minutes behind her rival, while GB’s Joe Skipper finished close behind Blummenfelt in 6:44:25.
Skipper had only been selected to compete in the event a week before race day. He stepped in as Alistair Brownlee’s replacement after he withdrew with an injury.
The drafting, pacers and specialised conditions used in the Sub7/Sub8 event are not permitted in other non-drafting ironman distance events. Despite history being made, the athletes’ times will not be recorded as official world records
Nonetheless, athletes and fans alike were still blown away by the efforts of display. When speaking to Matthews, she said: “I’m feeling a whole load of emotions, but the main one is gratitude for the whole team around me. Honestly of all the triathlons of the whole world, this is about the team.
With four top triathletes competing at the top of their game, the Sub7/Sub8 race was a lesson in grit, determination and strength for anyone to admire
This motivation was key to Matthew’s success. After leading out on the swim and the bike, Spirig gained momentum during the run, passing Matthews at the 10-mile mark.
Relentless in her efforts, Matthews fought back, used her pacers well to retake the lead over Spirig and go onto break the previous women’s record by an astounding margin.
Grit was also required from Blummenfelt as he battled hard with Skipper. The Norwegian held the lead coming out of the water. But Skipper rode hard on the bike, taking the lead back going into T2.
With Blummenfelt running at an average of 3.34min/km over the marathon, his sterling effort led him to victory.
Although no official records being set on the day, organisers and fans considered the event to be an overwhelming success. With four top triathletes competing at the top of their game, the Sub7/Sub8 race was a lesson in grit, determination and strength for anyone to admire.