This Year’s Fastest and Slowest Pro Races
With a full return to racing, we saw some speedy long-course times from the pros. We also saw some of our favorite stars suffering in the heat, humidity, altitude, and geography en route to challenging victories.
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The sport of triathlon is certainly getting faster. In 70.3 racing specifically, this year saw world records set on both the men’s and women’s sides, plus some nearly-as-quick finishing times that would have been world records in recent years. But that’s not to say that times are dropping across the board. And the pros suffer just like us: Thanks to challenging courses and extreme weather, some 70.3s pro races were on the slow side—relatively speaking. Here’s a look back at the stories of some of the speediest (and not-so-much) pro races of 2022.
Bonus: Outside+ members can watch replays of many of the events below—check out the links below.
2022’s Fastest Pro Races
Ironman 70.3 Dubai
The Date: March 5, 2022
Women’s Winner: Laura Phillip, 3:53:03
Men’s Winner: Marten Van Riel, 3:26:06
In one of the greatest collective 70.3 races to date, the fast-and-flat Dubai 70.3 course delivered with world-record setting performances for both Phillip and Van Riel. The bike splits on the day were almost other-worldly: The British Phillip, being pulled by five-time Ironman world champ Daniela Ryf, split 2:04:51 (to Ryf’s 2:04:24)—times that would have placed them in the top 15 among the pro men. The fleet-footed Phillip posted a 1:19:30 run (6:04 pace) to gap Ryf by nearly four minutes. And while short-course specialist Van Riel, of Belgium, had the speediest swim (22:49) and bike (1:53:27; 29.6 mph average), it was his run that sealed up the win–and the world record, clocking 1:07:55 (5:11 per mile). That split may be remarkable, but it wasn’t the fastest on the day: Third-place finisher Pierre La Corre ran 1:07:36, solidifying Dubai’s status as having the speediest bike/run course on the planet.
Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga
The Date: May 22, 2022
Women’s Winner: Jackie Hering, 4:02:34
Men’s Winner: Jason West, 3:37:14
When 2020 Olympic gold medalist Flora Duffy tested positive for COVID less than 24 hours before the race start, it was anyone’s game for the women’s race. With 70.3 superstars like Holly Lawrence, Paula Findlay, Jackie Hering, Mirinda Carfrae, Danielle Lewis, and Tamara Jewett in the mix, the race was bound to be a barn burner. With the down-river swim setting them up for a speedy start, Hering, Findlay, and Lawrence shot to the front and attacked the rolling bike course. After posting lifetime best bike 70.3 splits (2:14:11 and 2:14:12, respectively), Hering and Findlay took off on the run together. In the end, it was Hering with a 1:18:11 run (third-best in the field) to take the tape, just under four minutes ahead of Findlay. Worth noting? Hering’s time was a 16-minute improvement from her previous bout in Chattanooga, in 2017.
The men’s race was even more dramatic, with seven men coming into T2 with a shot to win after posting close bike splits hovering between 2:00:28 and 2:00:54. The race came down to a footrace, with a trio of Americans battling it out until the very end to claim the win. With a 1:09:08 split, Jason West nabbed Matt Hanson by about a minute, with Rudy von Berg finished in third. Hering and West’s wins doubled as Ironman 70.3 North American championship titles.
Watch the entire race or a replay on Outside Watch.
Ironman 70.3 World Championships
The Date: October 29, 2022
Women’s Winner: Taylor Knibb, 4:03:19
Men’s Winner: Kristian Blummenfelt, 3:37:11
When you get the world’s most talented triathletes together on the same course, one would expect fast finishes, even if said course is rather challenging. And that’s what happened at the World Championships. The hills in St. George are high, but the stakes on the day were higher, and both Knibb and Blummenfelt rose to the challenge to win their first respective 70.3 World Titles.
For Knibb, it was all about the bike. Unleashing a relentless pace, the 23-year-old pulled off a solo time-trial for 56 miles, posting the fastest women’s split by 6 minutes (2:14:40). And although she had just the sixth-best run split of the day (1:21:47), she managed to lose just about a minute of her cushion to break the tape more than five minutes before runner-up Findlay finished. Knibb’s time was a five-minute improvement from her third-place finish at the 2021 70.3 World Champs, also held in St. George.
Watch the entire women’s race or a replay on Outside Watch.
Blummenfelt’s win came down to the run. After setting himself up in good position with a solid swim and strong bike (2:01:02), the Norwegian took control of the race during the final leg, clocking 1:11:38 on the grueling course to win by more than three minutes—a significant improvement from his uncharacteristically mediocre 2021 race in St. George, when he finished 26th in 3:59:50.
Watch the entire men’s race or a replay on Outside Watch.
2022’s Slowest Pro Races
Ironman 70.3 Andorra
The Location: Andorra, Spain
The Date: July 3, 2022
Women’s Winner: Ashleigh Gentle, 4:53:41
Men’s Winner: Simon Viain, 4:24:18
Located at almost 5,000 feet above sea level, the Andorra course sits in thin air, plus, the lengthy transition between the swim and the run is a footrace in itself. And, on race day in 2022, competitors also had to deal with what Gentle called a “scorching hot” run in the city’s downtown (weather records show that the temperature was about 80 degrees F while the pros ran). To compare, Australia’s Gentle, the only woman to finish under five hours in Andorra, posted a 4:08:44 finish to win Ironman 70.3 Elsinore just one week prior. And men’s winner Viain’s time was a good 32 minutes slower than he posted at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, where the Frenchman placed 21st.
Ironman 70.3 Mallorca
The Location: Mallorca, Spain
The Date: May 7, 2022
Women’s Winner: Emma Pallant, 4:25:35
Mens’ Winner: William Mennesson, 3:57:55
Pallant won six half-Iron races in 2022, with Mallorca being arguably one of her most impressive victories—despite it being her slowest time of the year. Warm weather in the mid-70s may have played a factor in cooling Pallant’s pace, but she managed to outdistance the heavy hitters behind her: Nicola Spirig (4:27:48) and Chelsea Sodaro (4:30:54), who both consistently race in the low 4’s over the 70.3 distance. And, despite their mostly unimpressive times in Mallorca, Spirig, and Sodaro would go on to amazing accomplishments (a 7:34:19 Iron-distance race for Spirig, and the Ironman World Championship for Sodaro) later in the year.
Mennesson may lack the sparkling racing resume of Pallant, but his winning time in Mallorca was nowhere reflective of his abilities on a less-arduous course; just a few weeks later, Mennesson went on to finish second at Ironman France in 8:19:22.
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant
The Date: June 26, 2022
Women’s Winner: Tamara Jewett, 4:19:29
Men’s Winner: Lionel Sanders, 3:48:01
An unusually warm, humid day in Mont Tremblant proved to be a hurdle for all competitors in 2022—and slowed the pros. “It was a tough course in tough conditions (even in the swim, that bright sunlight on the short end of the rectangle made it unexpectedly tricky to find the turn buoy – even with tinted goggles),” women’s winner Jewett shared afterwards, adding that she was impacted by the heat and humidity on the run, with temperatures hovering around 86 degrees F by mid-morning. Still, Jewett posted a 1:20:12 split, which was nine minutes faster than anyone else (but, to be fair, was far off of Jewett’s usual run form, which is typically in the 1:14s for a 70.3.)
And though Sanders’ winning time didn’t set the world on fire, what was impressive is the way he won. “Wouldn’t be a normal race here without some adversity and we got it today,” he posted, alluding to finding his bike with a front flat tire after he exited the swim. After scrambling to fix the flat, Sanders dug deep on the bike to catch the leaders—which he did, at about 30 miles in, but not before he broke his own front tooth in sheer effort to hold onto his pace. Sanders later acknowledged that he overcooked himself on the bike and the run in the heat was painful, but he managed to hang on for the win.