Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt became the first man to complete a full-distance triathlon in under seven hours at the Sub 7/Sub 8 event in Brandenberg, crossing Germany on Sunday (June 5).
Earlier in the day, British Army Capt. Kat Matthews became the first woman to complete the distance in less than eight hours, clocking 7:34:19.
The event, created to achieve exactly those feats, saw athletes use pacemakers to cover the entire “iron distance” triathlon, which includes a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42.4 km run. These special conditions are not allowed in standard Ironman races without drafting.
Running in hot conditions, reigning world champion Norway Blummenfelt crossed the line in 6:44:25.
“Oh, that was tough. Even sitting there on the bike, the guys were pushing so hard. We rode so well and got off the bike so well. Phew, we did it,” said the player 28 years later.
“Two years of planning to build a team. Having a great team is key. You saw the team I built. They even got us rolling faster than expected.”
The race saw him take on another endurance star Joe Skipper in the lead to cross the legendary seven-hour mark.
Remarkably, only a week ago Skipper agreed to take part, after two-time Olympic champion Alister Brownlee pulled out with an injury. Skipper also broke the 7 hour barrier, crossing in 6:47:36.
Kat Mathews breaks the 8 hour barrier
In the women’s race, Matthews ran against London 2012 Olympic Champion Nicholas Spirig.
The British military, with the help of 10 ringleaders, Chrissie Wellington record set in 2011.
Speaking after the race, Matthews said
“I feel a lot of emotions, but the main one is gratitude to the whole team around me. Honestly, of all triathlons around the world, it’s the team that counts. I felt like dropping them all day. . I was reaching the limit and I thought I was going to lose it, but the support on the touchline gave me the motivation to keep going.”
With 14km to go, Swiss veteran Spirig passed Mathews but only 3km later Mathews came back and couldn’t be caught.
“She passed and I expected her to pass and it was one of those times when someone said you could, and I was like, yes I can.” – Kat Mathews.
Spirig got home in 7:34:19.