Not content with hopefully trying to make history at the rescheduled Olympic Games in July, Alistair Brownlee has today told The Guardian that he will attempt to finish an Ironman in less than seven hours in spring 2022.
Influenced by Eluid Kipchoge’s sub-2hr marathon project backed by Nike, the plan for the two-time Olympic Games champ is to use technology that’s prohibited by Ironman to power the 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km charge.
“It would be impossible under normal conditions,” Brownlee told The Guardian’s Sean Ingle. “But like with the sub two-hour marathon, we are choosing the boundaries. We will have special HUUB wetsuits that will be thicker than permitted under Ironman rules, and provide more buoyancy and make us faster. While on the bike, we will draft off pacers like in the Tour de France. As the bike is over 112 miles, that’s the obvious place to find the time.”
Brownlee’s current Ironman PB is the 7:45hrs he produced to win Ironman Australia in 2018 (Jan Frodeno’s world-best Iron-distance time of 7:35hrs was recorded at Challenge Roth in 2016).
Brownlee’s swim time was 46:29, before clocking 4:10:32 for the 180km bike leg. The Yorkshireman, who turns 33 in April, then ran the 42.2km marathon distance in 2:43:39.
After the swim leg using Huub’s special wetsuit (we’ve awaiting details from Brownlee’s wetsuit partner on the thickness and tech), the bike would be the natural place to shave the minutes needed.
“Research has shown that, in the middle of a huge cycling peloton, a rider in the pack can be using 90% less energy than the lead rider,” says 220’s James Witts, author of The Science of Tour de France. “That’s an extreme case, but behind a few riders this can still be 30-40%.”
Onto the run and a sub 2:30hr marathon will likely be needed, leading surely to Brownlee’s run sponsor Adidas to enter the fray.
The Guardian also confirmed that Brownlee’s fellow Brit, Lucy Charles-Barclay, will aim to become the first woman to dip under eight hours at Ironman (Chrissie Wellington’s record is 8:18:13 from Challenge Roth in 2011) at the same event. Charles-Barclay moved from Huub to Roka wetsuits in 2018 and has recently signed with Cube Bikes.
The pair will also be joined by half-iron distance world record holder Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Nicola Spirig from Switzerland.
The attempt will be backed by the Pho3nix Foundation, a Polish not-for-profit organisation that supports sporting participation among young people. The venue is currently to be confirmed.