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As winter beckons and temperatures drop across the northern hemisphere, many triathletes take their training indoors. But chilly weather—or COVID lockdowns—haven’t stopped people from pulling off epic indoor feats from the comfort of their gyms or homes. Whether it’s going the (very long) distance or busting out a spicy 5K, here are five examples of just how fast and far various triathletes have gone…inside.
The Accomplishment: Fastest indoor iron-distance triathlon
Seeking a dynamic way to raise funds for an after-school program for families in need in his Boston community, Rich staged an indoor triathlon at his local YMCA. But it wouldn’t just be any triathlon: Rich set out to complete the iron-distance—a 2.4-mile swim in a 25-yard pool, the 112-mile bike on an indoor trainer (with minimal resistance), and a treadmill marathon. Rich actually did the distance in the same format four times prior to 2017, all in an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the fastest indoor iron-distance triathlon, which he finally accomplished by just one second, going 7 hours and 59 minutes on Sept. 24, 2017.
The Accomplishment: Fastest* indoor sprint tri
Last November, 27-year-old Emily Varley set a Guinness World Record for the fastest indoor sprint triathlon from a gym in Letchworth, UK. As a yet-to-be-established record at the time, Guinness provided the mark of 1 hour, 18 minutes and Varley set out to smash it. She did just that, posting a total time of 58:21, completing the 400-meter swim (without flip turns, which were not allowed, per Guinness) in 5:38, hitting 12.5 miles in 31:14 on a Wattbike (average speed: 23 mph), and then finishing off with a 20:36 5K (plus transition times).
*It should be noted that other women have gone faster at the same distance indoors, but Varley’s performance met the strict guidelines and criteria required in advance by Guinness World Records to set the standard.
The Accomplishment: Stay-at-home standalone Ironman
While under strict COVID-19 lockdown orders in Girona, Spain, the Ironman world champ and Olympic gold medalist took advantage of his swanky home gym (and rooftop endless pool) to stage a solo indoor ironman on April 11, 2020. The event, which aimed to raise money for charity, was live streamed as thousands tuned in to watch Frodeno crank out a 2.4-mile swim in his current-equipped pool, ride 112 miles on Zwift, and then run 26.2 miles on his treadmill. His final result? 8 hours, 33 minutes, and 39 seconds. In true Frodo-fashion, the German casually chatted away with his wife, Emma Snowsill Frodeno, during his time on the bike and treadmill, and conducted live chats and interviews with friends and triathlon rivals—all making for a very entertaining event (and a successful one, too: All told, Frodeno raised $218,710 for the Laureus Sport for Good project.)
The Accomplishment: Indoor iron-distance triathlon
Last November, the 39-year-old Arlington, Virgina resident—and an Iraqi refugee from the Gulf War—pivoted to an indoor iron-distance triathlon when her planned races were canceled due to the pandemic. Racing with the mantra “Suffer. Learn. Change,” Abousy’s efforts were a way to raise awareness and funds for the Iraqi Children’s Foundation, as well as to prep for her planned self-supported Ironman-distance event in Iraq, which she hopes will support her personal mission of “[letting] the world see Iraqis for who they are now. The good part—not the bad.”
The Accomplishment: 15:20 5K split during an indoor sprint tri
While his Canadian hour record for cycling might technically be more impressive (51.304 km in 60 minutes), we took note of Sanders’ 5K time. Wearing nothing but a green Speedo (naturally), Sanders blasted to a 15:20 5K on a four-lane, 200-meter indoor track at the tail end of a February 2018 local triathlon at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. With that, Sanders took home the overall win for the race, which was formatted as a 15-minute swim (covering 1,230 meters), a 15-minute bike (averaging 419 watts), and a 15-minute run (reaching 4,900 meters before going on to finish up the 5K).
What other great feats will we see this winter?