A study of the fastest courses for professional triathletes competing in IRONMAN® triathlons
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Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Ultra Sports Science Foundation, Pierre-Benite, France
Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Keizo Asami Institute of Immunopathology, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
CI-ISCE, Higher Institute of Educational Sciences of the Douro, Penafiel, Portugal
Department of Sports, Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Bragança, Portugal
School of Health and Caring Sciences, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Medbase St. Gallen Am Vadianplatz, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Submission date: 2024-01-07
Acceptance date: 2024-05-27
Publication date: 2024-06-28
Corresponding author
Beat Knechtle   

Gesundheitszentrum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Hum Mov. 2024;25(2):148-160
The IRONMAN® triathlon is an endurance multisport discipline of high popularity. Professional IRONMAN® triathletes need to qualify for the IRONMAN® World Championships and, therefore, would benefit from identifying the fastest race courses. Our purpose was to identify the fastest races held for professional IRONMAN® triathletes competing from 2002 to 2022.

This was an observational study, sampling 7,078 race records (380 different events in 55 different event locations) of professional IRONMAN® triathletes of both sexes (4,235 males and 2,843 females). We downloaded information about sex, nationality, both split (swimming, cycling, and running) and overall race times, the event location, and the year. Information about race course characteristics, water temperatures, and air temperatures was obtained. Descriptive statistics were calculated for each event location, and factorial ANOVA tests were used to explore the statistical significance of the results. A confidence interval of 95% was adopted.

The fastest overall IRONMAN® average race times were achieved during the IRONMAN® Tallinn, IRONMAN® Switzerland held in Thun, and IRONMAN® Des Moines. A lake for the swim split characterized the first five courses, while the bike split featured rolling or hilly terrain. For the run split, most of the courses were characterized as flat. For environmental characteristics, lower water and air temperatures also added time to the average finish time.

Understanding the fastest race courses and their characteristics would assist professional IRONMAN® triathletes in selecting races that offer the optimal conditions for their competition. Fast IRONMAN® race courses typically feature a lakeside swim course, a rolling or hilly bike course, and a flat run course.

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