What are the fastest times in triathlon?
Triathlon world records are a contentious subject, especially in long-distance racing. But we're a nosy bunch and love a good stat, so here's a breakdown of the current fastest triathlon times in the world and who holds them…
In a sport like triathlon, determining a ‘world record’ can be tricky. Because triathlon is an outdoor sport that takes place in different locations with varying climates, topography, and weather conditions, it’s hard to compare one race to another.
Also, most triathlons don’t have official certified course distances, which makes determining a ‘world’s best’ time almost impossible.
However, if we just look at the ‘big name’ races that dominate the global sporting calendar – such as Ironman, Challenge Roth, World Champs – we can pick out the speediest times with (relative) ease. So which male and female triathletes currently hold the world’s fastest triathlon times across long distance, Ironman, 70.3 and World Triathlon? Let’s find out…
Long-distance triathlon world records
MEN’S – Jan Frodeno, 2016 Challenge Roth, 7:35:39
WOMEN’S – Chrissie Wellington, 2011 Challenge Roth, 8:18:13
Challenge Roth is a fast course that’s produced many record times over the years. In 2022, Magnus Ditlev won the race in 7:35:48, just nine seconds slower than Jan Frodeno’s record time. Ditlev also claimed a new bike course record of 4:01:56.
In this category, we also have to consider the Tri Battle Royale, a head-to-head competition between Frodeno and Lionel Sanders, where the former improved on his Roth time by a few minutes with a 7:27:53.
However, there were special circumstances in this race, such as velodrome-style turns on the bike course and the athletes being handed bottles from motorbikes.
There’s also the Sub7/Sub8 Challenge that allowed drafting, pacers, and non-traditional equipment. As a result, this effort wasn’t sanctioned nor recognized by a governing body.
However, Kristian Blummenfelt’s time of 6:44:25 and Kat Matthews’ time of 7:31:54 showed just how fast an athlete can cover 140.6 miles.
Ironman world records
MEN’S – Kristian Blummenfelt, 2021 Ironman Cozumel, 7:21:12
Featuring a current-assisted swim, IM Cozumel was the site of Blummenfelt’s speedy time with a 39:41 swim, 4:02:40 bike, and 2:35:24 run. Another fast time in a race without a current-assisted swim was set by Tim Don at 2017 Ironman Brazil with 7:40:23.
WOMEN’S – Laura Philipp, 2022 Ironman Hamburg, 8:18:20
Philipp’s time at IM Hamburg was impressive with a 54:38 swim, 4:31:14 bike, and 2:45:38 run. Also notable, she came within 7 seconds of Chrissie Wellington’s full-distance record at Roth. Prior to Philipp, Sara Svensk held this record with 8:22:41 at 2021 IM Cozumel.
Ironman World Championship Kona records
MEN’S – Gustav Iden, 2022, 7:40:24
WOMEN’S – Daniela Ryf, 2018, 8:26:18
The 2022 race on the Big Island saw Frodeno’s 2019 men’s course record of 7:51:13 fall to not one, but four, men and they were all Kona rookies: Gustav Iden (7:40:24), Sam Laidlow (7:42:24), Kristian Blummenfelt (7:43:23), and Max Neumann (7:44:44).
Other Kona records achieved this year include the new men’s bike course record of Sam Laidlow (4:04:36) and Gustav Iden’s men’s run course record (2:36:15).
Jan Sibbersen holds the men’s swim course record with his 46:29 from 2018.
Daniela Ryf still holds the women’s course record from 2018, having bested her own record from 2016 by 20 minutes.
The women’s swim course record is held by Lucy Charles-Barclay (48:14) set in 2018; Ryf holds the women’s bike course record with a 4:26:07, also set in 2018; while the women’s run course record still sits with Mirinda Carfrae from 2014.
Ryf also claimed a win at the postponed 2021 Ironman World Championship, which was moved to St. George, Utah, with a time of 8:34:59. Great Britain’s Kat Matthews was second with 8:43:49. On the men’s side, Kristian Blummenfelt won with a 7:49:16 and Lionel Sanders was second with 7:54:03.
British records over Ironman or long distance
MEN’S – Alistair Brownlee, 2022 Ironman Sweden, 7:38:47
WOMEN’S – Chrissie Wellington, 2011 Challenge Roth, 8:18:13
One of Great Britain’s most celebrated triathletes, Alistair Brownlee, set a new full distance record for his homeland at Ionman Sweden in 2022.
FASTEST GB MEN IN KONA – Joe Skipper, 2022, 7:54:05; David McNamee, 2018, 8:01:09
FASTEST GB WOMEN IN KONA – Lucy Charles Barclay, 2018, 8:36:34; Chrissie Wellington, 2009, 8:54:02
Half Ironman/70.3 world records
MEN’S – Marten Van Riel, 2022 IM 70.3 Dubai, 3:26:06
WOMEN’S – Laura Philipp, 2022 IM 70.3 Dubai, 3:53:03
Marten Van Riel and Laura Philipp set new 70.3 records in Dubai this year. But what about Kristian Blummenfelt’s time of 3:25:21 and Holly Lawrence’s time of 3:52:51 at Bahrain 70.3 in 2019?
Since the bike course in Bahrain was known to be short (approximately 53.9 miles instead of the standard 56 miles) Ironman recognises Van Riel and Philipp as having the fastest known times for the 70.3 distance.
Ironman 70.3 World Championship records
MEN’S – Michael Raelert, 2009 Clearwater, FL., 3:34:04
WOMEN’S – Julie Dibens, 2009 Clearwater, FL., 3:59:33
At the 2009 70.3 World Championship, Michael Raelert’s time of 3:34:04 became a new 70.3 record, and Dibens became the first woman to break the 4hr barrier.
World Triathlon Olympic/standard fastest times
The Olympic and sprint distances are challenging, because there are both drafting and non-drafting races, and the actual distance among events can vary. Still, there are a few contenders for best-known times in these categories.
Alex Yee, WTC Series Cagliari, 1:40:19 (*38km bike)
Alistair Brownlee, 2009 ITU WCS London, 1:41:50
Fastest at the Olympics: Alistair Brownlee, 2016 Rio, 1:45:01
Emma Snowsill, 2010 ITU World Champsionship Final, 1:49:43
Fastest at the Olympics: Flora Duffy, 2020 Tokyo, 1:55:36
World Triathlon sprint fastest times
Vincent Luis, 2020 WTCS Hamburg, 49:13 (*18.6km bike)
Mario Mola, 2014 ITU WT London, 49:46 (*19.1km bike)
Alistair Brownlee, 2015 ITU WT London, 50:39 (*19.1km bike)
Georgia Taylor-Brown, 2020 WTCS Hamburg, 54:16 (*18.6km bike)
Gwen Jorgensen, 2014 ITU WT London, 54:44 (*19.1km bike)
Flora Duffy, 2021 WTCS Abu Dhabi, 55:41
Top image credit: Credit: Mana Group/Pho3nix Foundation