Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt produced a superhuman effort as he became the first-ever athlete to complete a sub-seven-hour Iron Distance triathlon, while Britain’s Kat Matthews created history by becoming the first woman to go under eight hours.
Blummenfelt’s path to becoming the world’s most formidable triathlete has seen his rise largely due to the culmination of a ten-year project at the cutting edge of sports science. Every millilitre of oxygen intake is measured, every tiny change of racing position assessed for aerodynamic drag and every calorie consumed and burned is accounted for precisely.
The results speak for themselves, as the 28-year-old capped a remarkable 12 months that has seen him crowned Olympic triathlon champion, claim World Triathlon Championship Series glory and win the IRONMAN World Championship at St. George, Utah in a record time of 7h 21m 12s.
Having achieved so much, Blummenfelt’s next target was to try and go under seven hours. Competing alongside three other elite athletes at the Sub7Sub8 event in Germany, the Norwegian finished in an astounding time of 6h 44m and 26s.
It was not the ideal start for Blummenfelt as he completed the 3.8km swim in 48 minutes and 21 seconds – having hoped to have covered the distance in exactly 45 minutes.
Next up was the 180km bike stage which the Norwegian hoped to complete in three hours and 49 minutes. That target was obliterated as Blummenfelt produced an incredible ride to finish in a time of 3:24:22 – more than 24 minutes ahead of schedule.
In the final marathon leg, the athlete from Bergen was looking to finish the 42.2km run in two hours and 25 minutes. Despite having time on his side thanks to his sensational bike stage, Blummenfelt finished in a staggering time of 2:30:50 to break the seven-hour barrier.
Blummenfelt, 28, said: “That was tough but we did it. It’s been two years of planning to put together a team. It’s so crucial to get a dialled in team and you saw they put together a great performance. I settled into a good pace and got the calories in, but it’s difficult because you are cramping after 10k because of the bike. I really felt the bike on that run but it’s been an amazing journey.”
Also competing in Germany, English triathlete Joe Skipper was also able to complete the distance in under seven hours, finishing in a time of 6h 47m 37s.
Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig and Britain’s Matthews were also looking to create history as they aimed to finish the Iron Distance triathlon in under eight hours.
Both triathletes were successful in their attempt, with Matthews completing the distance in 7:31.54 and Spirig finishing in a time of 7:34:19.