Mission accomplished for the four triathletes of the SUB7 SUB8 project, which took place this Sunday at the Dekra Lausitzring (Germany): the reigning Olympic champion, Kristian Blummenfelt (Norway), achieved the record (not homologated) of 6h44’25’ ‘ on an Ironman format, when Joe Skipper (Great Britain) also went under 7 hours (6h47’36”). Among the women, it was Katrina Matthews (Great Britain) who broke the 8-hour barrier in 7h31’54”; Nicola Spirig (Switzerland) finished in 7h34’19”.
The challenge, launched by the Phoenix Foundation to four of the best triathletes on the planet, was simple: break the barrier of 8 hours on Ironman for women and 7 hours for men, when the world records are today (and remain after this day) of 8h18’13 by Chrissie Wellington at the Challenge Roth 2011 and of 7h21’12” by Kristian Blummenfelt (in Cozumel, Mexico in 2021).
It was to the latter, a true triathlon legend thanks to his historic hat-trick (2021 Olympic champion, 2022 Ironman world champion and 2021 WTS winner), who had the heavy responsibility of leading the men’s attempt, accompanied by the champion of Europe Ironman 2018, Joe Skipper. For women, the mandate was given to the double Ironman world champion, Katrina Matthews (Great Britain) and the double Olympic champion Nicola Spirig (Switzerland).
The playground not chosen at random
Everything was then put on their side to allow them to succeed in the project imagined by the Polish billionaire Sebastian Kulczyk, founder of the NGO Phoenix: a team of 10 pacers recruited by each athlete to accompany them in the water, on bicycles and on foot, drafting authorized on the bike section and even a bike assistant to refresh each athlete during the run, using a sprayer…
Even more decisive, the playground was not chosen at random. It was particularly conducive to speed: a calm lake for swimming, a racing circuit for riding in a peloton and an ultra-fast 3.5 km loop for running. If the athletes all came out of the water behind their predictions after swimming 3.8 km (48’21 for Blummenfelt who was aiming for 45′), it was on their bikes that they went into orbit to complete their feat, with average speeds above 50 km/h over 180 km for the two men (54.91 km/h for Joe Skipper)!
After a marathon completed in 2h30’50” for Blummenfelt (3’34/km) and 2h46’09” for Matthews, the athletes crossed the finish line by pulverizing the barriers they were aiming for: 6h44’25’ ‘ for the Norwegian (6h47’36” for Skipper) and 7h31’54” for the Briton (7h34’19” for Spirig). Reference times which do not have the value of a record, the conditions of the attempt being freed from the Ironman regulations, but which have the merit of proving that it is humanly possible to run an Ironman under 7 hours for the men and under 8 hours for women.