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Male triathletes: the 10 greatest ever

Just who is the greatest male triathlete of all time, long-course and short-course? We have discussed, debated and argued, and finally come up with these 10. Do you agree?

9. Peter Reid

Canadian Peter Reid’s victory at the 2000 Ironman World Championships, the second of his three Kona titles, confirmed his position as one of the most consistently brilliant athletes of his generation. His 4th, 4th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd finishing run at Hawaii is up there with the greatest ever seen on the Big Island.

Reid was born in Montreal in 1969, and throughout his teenage years was heavily into skiing during the harsh winters and cycling during the summer. His first brush with triathlon came in 1989, when its demands forced him to resort to breaststroke just 100m into the swim of his debut sprint-distance race.

Nonetheless, the 20-year-old was soon hooked. After graduating with a political science degree Reid gave himself a year to show clear signs of improvement in the sport. Giving early indications of his famous perseverance, he soon came good to win Japan’s gruelling 1993 Astroman duathlon (8.5km run/180km bike/42km run) in a typhoon.

The results started to flow in 1994, with victory at Wildflower and fourth at his first venture in Hawaii. A fourth place at Kona followed in 1997 before Reid hooked up as a training partner with the rising American star Tim DeBoom in the summer of 1998 in Boulder, while staying at eight-time Kona champ Paula Newby-Fraser’s house.

Whatever advice she imparted seemed to work. In 1999 Reid won his first Ironman world champs victory in 8:24:20 after out-biking all the riders bar Thomas Hellriegel and outpacing all the runners except Lothar Leder. Lori Bowden finished second that day in Hawaii, and a year later the roles were reversed when Bowden, now Reid’s wife, took gold, and Reid was second behind Luc Van Lierde.

Reid would label his 2000 Kona victory over DeBoom the hardest race he ever had. In 2002 DeBoom broke free on the run to secure his second Kona title. Reid’s feat in finishing second shouldn’t be underestimated, however. He'd suffered a huge mental and physical burn-out earlier in the year and took a break from the sport on his doctor’s orders. Slowly, he found his motivation and energy returning and set about targeting Kona armed with a beginner programme, written by Mark Allen, named ‘18 weeks To Your First Ironman’.

Even so, his preparations for 2003’s Hawaii showdown were far from ideal. His marriage to Bowden had unravelled throughout the year. The duo both produced the winning goods on race day (for the last time), and the organisers rearranged the awards ceremony so the two wouldn’t appear together on the podium.

After two more Kona podium places in 2004 and 2005, Reid announced his retirement from triathlon to pursue a career as a bush pilot in the northern wilderness of Canada. But it’s for his triumphs over adversity in Hawaii that Reid’s place in Ironman folklore is secure; few have grafted as hard as Peter the Great for victory in Kona.”

Career highlights

Ironman World Champion, 1998, 2000, 2003 (220 named Reid 9th greatest Kona athlete of all time)

Continue reading our guide to the 10 greatest male triathletes of all time  (3/10)


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