How Long Could You Keep Up in Kona?

If you were racing against Jan Frodeno, how long do you think you'd be able to keep up? How about Gordon Ramsay?

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If you were racing against Jan Frodeno, how long do you think you’d be able to keep up? How about a race against chef (and Kona finisher) Gordon Ramsay? Or even the average age-grouper in Kona? Find out with our newest feature in this year’s Hawaii From Home challenge, our free virtual race where athletes cover 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running over the course of the week so many of us would have been on the Big Island (Oct. 4-10).

Have you signed up yet? You can do that here.

We looked at a collection of Ironman finish times, from the Kona records to the average finish times at popular races to the celebrity times, and we broke down the splits that were used along the way to calculate what you would need to do—so you can see how long you could keep up if you break it up: part of the swim, half the bike ride, all of it if it’s stretched over a week? Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

One note: none of the splits include transition times; these are simply the paces that were held for the swim, bike, and run.

Let’s start with the Kona records—Jan Frodeno’s 7:51:13 from 2019 and Daniela Ryf’s 8:26:18 from 2018—and we’ve broken down their actual splits from those years into the paces they were holding. Not because we think any of us can actually keep up with them, but just because sometimes it’s good to appreciate the scale of what they were able to accomplish. For the rest of us: Being able to swim one 100y or run one mile at their race would be achievement enough. (Keep in mind, Ryf’s swim that year was sub-par because of a jellyfish sting, making it very nearly human!)

Jan Frodeno's Kona record
SWIM: 1:08/100y BIKE: 26.25 mph RUN: 6:12/mile
Daniela Ryf's Kona record
SWIM: 1:22/100y BIKE: 25.26 mph RUN: 6:46/mile

Of course, all of us—even if we make it to Kona—want to compare ourselves to the other age-groupers like us, right? So what about the overall age-group winners, what paces do they hold?

In 2019, Ruth Astle (who has since turned pro and who was supported by the Zwift Academy) went 9:20:06 for the win, while South African Donovan Geldenhuys (who has also since turned pro) narrowly took the men’s amateur title in 8:45:17. Here are there splits broken down by pace.

Women's AG overall Kona winner
SWIM: 1:27/100y BIKE: 22.78 mph RUN: 7:31/mile
Men's AG overall Kona winner
SWIM: 1:19/100y BIKE: 24 mph RUN: 6:58/mile

Sure, sure, you’re thinking, those athletes are the best of the best, though. What about just making it to Hawaii and finishing? Let’s take a look at the average Kona finisher time (11:39).

Average Kona finisher
SWIM: 1:41/100y BIKE: 19.25 mph RUN: 10:13/mile

But what does it take to even get to Kona? While that varies by course and age-group, let’s take a look at the final Kona qualifying times at the popular Ironman Arizona (coming up in a few weeks) from the last time it was held in 2019. The final KQ times for the biggest age groups (men’s 45-49 and women’s 40-44) were 9:38:35 and 9:57:25, according to Coach Cox’s comprehensive breakdown of the numbers.

We then broke those times down into the average swim, bike, run splits to approximate what you’d have to hold at Ironman Arizona in these age groups to make the cut-off. Just for a general idea of how competitive it’s gotten. (Keep in mind Arizona is a very different and notably faster course than Kona!)

Men's 45-49 KQ
SWIM: 1:22/100y BIKE: 23.25 mph RUN: 8:25/mile
Women's 40-44 KQ
SWIM: 1:25/100y BIKE: 22.48 mph RUN: 8:40/mile

Now, many of us are just happy finishing an Ironman—always an accomplishment! The average finish time at Ironman Arizona that same year was: 13:30:41. Let’s break down what those average splits work out to…

Ave. IM AZ finish time
SWIM: 2:04/100y BIKE: 17.23 mph RUN: 12:09/mile

And then, of course, there’s everyone’s goal: beating a celebrity. How long could you keep up with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s 2013 Kona times for a 14:04:48 finish?

Gordon Ramsay's Kona time
SWIM: 1:55/100y BIKE: 17 mph RUN: 13:16/mile

Put yourself to the test with our Hawaii From Home challenge!

If you’ve always dreamed about covering the full iron-distance or are missing out on the Big Island this year, then join us for the week when so many triathletes would have been gathering in Hawaii. Cover the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and marathon run over those seven days. Win great prizes. Have a blast.

REGISTER NOW (It’s free!)

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