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After a number of mind-blowing performances at Ironman Cozumel this past weekend—most notably, a new Ironman world’s best time of 7:21 by Kristian Blummenfelt—Ironman officials have confirmed two things: 1. They don’t, generally speaking, keep official world records because of variations in courses, and 2. Despite some mutterings from tri aficionados about the accuracy of the Cozumel course, they will recognize the times there as course and world’s best times. The fastest time to ever cover the 140.6 distance is now official. (This also includes the women’s record times set there.)
“Blummenfelt’s race in Cozumel absolutely qualifies as the Ironman World Best time, or you could also say it is the fastest time in history for a full-distance Ironman triathlon. Quite the performance,” said Ironman spokesperson Dan Berglund.
And Blummenfelt’s coach says he could go even faster.
For more on why triathlon doesn’t have certified official world records: What’s the Ironman World Record? It’s Complicated
In his Ironman debut, the Olympic champ split a 39:41 swim, 4:02:40 bike, and a 2:35:24 run for a 7:21:12 total. Notably, second-place finisher Reudi Wild, who came out of the water with Blummenfelt, also broke the previous Ironman world’s best time with a 7:36:35 and the women’s winner, Sara Svensk, set an Ironman-brand world’s best time of 8:22:41. This prompted a lot of online speculation about if the course was short, if the swim was accurate, if something was fishy.
Similar questions were raised in the wake of records broken at 2018 Ironman Texas—but in that case the bike course had been notably shortened, and officials went back-and-forth about whether those times set would be recognized. In this case, Ironman officials say no, the course was accurate, the conditions were obviously fast (but that’s not against the rules), and the swim is known to be down-current.
Olav Aleksander Bu, Blummenfelt’s coach on the ground in Cozumel and a coach with the Norwegian Olympic team, says that in reality the conditions weren’t as perfect as the internet spectators might speculate, and there is clear room to go faster.
The swim, he said, was known to be fast, sure, but Blummenfelt could have swum 1-2 minutes faster and held back because it was his first-ever Ironman. “We already discussed prior to the race, as this is his debut, rather go safe since it was going to be a long day,” he said. Plus, T1 was actually a very long run.
The rain that caused the heavy currents in the swim also caused wet roads and flooding on the bike, leading the lead group to slow down because of big puddles and the need to avoid crashes among the age-group field on the second lap. “Under ideal conditions, with a dry track, he could have gone >5 min faster on the bike,” said Aleksander Bu.
On the run, it’s also been noted that Blummenfelt made two port-a-potty stops, though, according to his lap timer on his watch, they were just 43 and 41 seconds—proving he does everything fast.
Most notably, though, his coach says he kept everything under control throughout the race because it was his debut. This can even be seen in his running splits, as he gained confidence and was able to pick up the pace, finishing the last 5K in about 3:30 min/km pace (about 5:38 miles).
“All in all, what we gained on the swim was lost on the bike. I think that is well reflected in the other pros time, who finished the race,” said Aleksander Bu.
It also makes the potential for the Sub7 project—with scientifically perfect conditions, pacers, and optimal equipment—far more likely.