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Being a fast triathlete doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a standout standalone runner. (This is why). But some pros have defied the odds and fared quite well over 26.2 miles—all while juggling the rest of their tri training. Here’s a look at a few of the speediest open marathon performances among pros of the past and present.
The Pro Male Triathletes’ Top Marathon Times
The marathon: California International Marathon (CIM) 2019
The time: 2:16:41
Technically, Billington—a 2016 Olympian in triathlon—was retired from the sport when he posted a smoking-fast PR of 2:16:41 at CIM. But we’ll give him a pass because he eventually made a triumphant return to multisport this summer, as a guide for paratriathlete Brad Snyder, who won a gold medal in Tokyo in the visually impaired division. That marathon time was quick enough to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Atlanta. He followed that up with a 2:15:31 at the unique COVID-created The Marathon Project in December 2020.
The marathon: Frankfurt Marathon, 2009
The time: 2:18:44
Justus may not be a household name, but the German did scale many a podium as an ITU standout in the aughts. And it was during that time when he set some ridiculous run PRs, including a 1:05:01 half-marathon and the 2:18 full in Frankfurt—fresh off a successful season where he’d held sub-4:40-per-mile pace in a 10K off the bike. Despite his talent at long-distance running, Justus mostly stuck to draft-legal racing, although he did dip his toes in the 70.3 pool a few times. In 2016, he finished second at 70.3 Bahrain with a run split of 1:11:25—two minutes faster than the rest of the field.
The marathon: Frankfurt Marathon, 1987
The time: 2:19:11
Hailing from Chile, Bustos quite literally gave world champ Mark Allen a run for his money for much of the 1992 Ironman World Championships. He entered a marathon in Santiago, Chile while training for Kona, won it outright, and later went on to place fifth in Frankfurt with a five-minute PR. In Kona 1992, Bustos challenged Allen for some 14 miles of that race before flagging and placing second, his highest finish ever.
The marathon: Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, 2019
The time: 2:21:47
Bermuda’s other pro triathlete, Butterfield started in short-course racing and ultimately moved up to long-distance, snagging several 70.3 podiums (including a 2019 win in Cozumel). The same season, he traveled to Otsu, Japan for the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, where he broke his own Bermudian record for the men’s marathon, originally set in 2018 at the Commonwealth Games in Australia (2:26:29).
The marathon: Frankfurt Marathon, 2007
The time: 2:32:14
Just two weeks after a disappointing DNF due to illness in Kona, Germany’s Stadler, a two-time Ironman World Champ, righted the ship with his Frankfurt finish. His 2:32:14 time exceeded his goal of 2:50, and he raised several thousands of dollars for charity with the effort.
The Pro Female Triathletes’ Top Marathon Times
The marathon: Pittsburgh Marathon, 1989
The time: 2:36:57
Calling herself a “triathlete who likes to run,” Baker (a two-time Ironman World Champion and one of the winningest women in the history of the sport) took a brief reprieve at the height of her pro career to focus on road racing. Setting her sights on a sub 2:30 marathon, the Kiwi ran both the Pittsburgh and Chicago Marathons in 1989, falling short of her goal each time but impressing nonetheless. Her fastest finish was on a blustery day in Pittsburgh, good enough for third place. She later on went to place second at the Ironman World Champs in 1991 and 1993.
The marathon: Austin Marathon, 2007
The time: 2:40:28
The 2006 runner-up at the Ironman World Championships, Ficker used her endurance engine to power her through an impressive second place in her hometown race a few months later. Just her second open marathon, she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Another highlight on her dazzling resume included a tenth-place finish at the 2009 New York City Marathon in 2:39:30, where she was the second-fastest American on the day—but by then, she had transitioned from triathlon to road racing full-time.
The marathon: New York City Marathon, 2016
The time: 2:41:01
Fresh off her historic win at the 2016 Olympic games (and just a week after winning the grueling and uber-competitive Island House triathlon), Jorgensen took “Gwensanity” to the streets of NYC with her debut marathon. Running solely off her mid-distance triathlon fitness, Jorgensen finished 14th among all women in the race. A year later, she announced her retirement from triathlon to focus on running. She has since posted a 2:36:13 marathon PR.
The marathon: California International Marathon (CIM), 2019
The time: 2:43:19
The multi-time 70.3 champ started out as a swimmer (even competing in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials), but she has shown she can hang as a stand-alone runner, too. With her impressive 2:43:19 finish at CIM, she qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the marathon, landing in 304th place in 2:54:25.
The marathon: 2020 London Marathon
The time: 2:47:58
Proving there’s not much this versatile star can’t do, Charles snagged an all-time marathon PR last month, despite (briefly) losing a shoe and needing a porta-potty pitstop. This, after a stellar 2020-21 season, which included a convincing win at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship just two weeks earlier on the challenging St. George, Utah course.