Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What matters the most?

Already a debate has begun about who holds the real world record. It's a moot point.

Yvonne van Vlerken is now the fastest ironwoman on the planet. Period. She shouldn't be denied that accolade.

There should be no debate about whether it was or wasn't a WTC event. [There are some people who view the times set in Kona as the only ones worth recording.]

There are always going to be differences in terms of courses, the conditions and also the effect of having more or less athletes competing at the same time. But the distance is indisputable.

Eight athletes recorded Sub9 times in eight days this month, starting with Chrissie Wellington at Ironman Germany in Frankfurt on July 6 and ending with Belinda Granger at Roth, also in Germany, on July 13.

This rush to the line wasn't as sudden as it might appear, nor should it be dismissed anytime soon. It's a huge accomplishment and a great development for triathlon.

The depth of the women's field is greater now than it ever has been and the level of competition is as high as it ever has been.

Without a doubt there are comparisons to the races between Paula Newby-Fraser and Erin Baker. Each pushed each other to their personal limits and then a bit further. But it wouldn't be fair to these two legends of the sport nor to the athletes of today to dwell on who's the best based simply on time.

Newby-Fraser and Baker excelled at the highest level year in and year out and it's that consistency that makes them legends.

That's why in any sport, an era is defined as a period of time.

The current women's field entered a new era last year when van Vlerken in her rookie ironman event at Roth almost set a new world record. What she accomplished then was to inject confidence in herself, and among her competitors, to reset the goalposts. With her time on Sunday, she now has gone Sub9 three times in a year. She'll make her Kona debut this October.

Wellington's unexpected win in Kona, and her four ironman wins in as many races are another point of definition.

These athletes are just the tip of the iceberg.

Hawaii is poised to be one very exciting race this year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eight Days in July

These results are the eight athletes who recorded Sub9 times from July 6 to July 13 at three races in Europe: Ironman Germany, Ironman Austria and Quelle Roth Challenge.

*For a larger image, click on the table

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Quelle Challenge Roth

Yvonne van Vlerken, Erika Csomor, Gina Ferguson and Belinda Granger broke the 9-hour mark at Quelle Challenge Roth in Germany.

Van Vlerken has set a new standard for iron-distance racing with her 8:45.48 clocking.

Csomor went 8:47:05, Ferguson 8:57:18 and Granger 8:58:08.

Ironman Austria

At Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt, Sandra Wallenhorst went 8:47:26, Bella Comerford 8:51:17 and Edith Niederfriniger 8:59:45.

For a short period of time Wallenhorst was the world record holder.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wellington 8:51:24

At Ironman Germany in Frankfurt, Chrissie Wellington won her fourth straight ironman race and came within a whisker of setting a new world record.

She led from start to finish, crossing the line about 26 minutes ahead of her next competitor.

Instead of racing to the line, she slowed during the final stretch to celebrate.