Ironman World Championships 2012

The Ironman World Championships took place as usual in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i on October 13th. For those who don't know, Ironman is an extreme version of Triathlon, in which competitors complete a 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile (marathon distance) run.


The Ironman World Championships took place as usual in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i on October 13th. For those who don't know, Ironman is an extreme version of Triathlon, in which competitors complete a 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile (marathon distance) run. {jcomments on}The total distance covered is 140.6 miles. The course must be completed within an overall time of 17 hours, and in addition each stage plus the transition to the next stage has to be completed within a specified time. Therefore, at any point a competitor may be disqualified if they do not complete each stage within the time allowed.

There is a category of Professional Athletes - 31 of whom are women and 52 men - but the majority of the 1984 competitors are  "amateur" athletes. The results are given in overall rankings and in age groups, divided into 5-year age bands, so that participants compete against others of similar ages. Below are some results for what we would call Silver Grey athletes, but for comparison the fastest man was professional athlete Pete Jacobs in 8:18:37, and the fastest woman was (British!) professional athlete Leanda Cave in 9:15:54.

50-54 year old age group

Fastest Woman    June Ward (Aus)        10:58:40   
52 competitors finished out of 55 starters (52 / 55)

Fastest Man     Wolfgang Schmatz (Ger)    9:31:50    
140 finished out of 145



55-59 year old age group

Fastest Woman    Laura Sophiea (USA)    11:09:30   
33 finished out of 34

Fastest Man    Pedro Oviedo-Montoya    10:05:48   
89 finished out of 91

60-64 year old age group

Fastest Woman    Judith Laney (USA)    12:27:51
28 finished out of 28

Fastest Man    Rick Simpson        10:55:16
58 finished out of 61


The oldest woman to complete the course was Harriet Anderson (USA), who finished in 16:59:19 just inside the 17 hours cut-off time.

Sister Madonna Buder, whom we wrote about recently, did take part but did not finish as she missed the cut-off at the end of the bike stage by 10 minutes, largely due to the high winds which lead to very difficult conditions for all the competitors, more of whom than expected also missed the cut-off.

The oldest men's age group was 80+. This group was won by Inada Hiromu from Japan in a time of 15:38:25. He took part in his first Ironman at 77 years old. He qualified for Kona last year but did not finish. This is the first time he finished Ironman here. He was over 1 hour ahead of the next finishers in his age group, including Lew Hollander, champion for the last 2 years, and you had to go up to the 25-29 age group to find a group in which he would have come last! 


1984 athletes started the race, of whom 1884 finished. A completion rate of 94.9%. Of those whom we would call Silver Greys there were 508 starters in total, of whom 137 were women and 371 were men. 128 of these women finished, and 353 of the men, a completion rate extremely comparable to the overall completion rate.


There used to be a children's programme on BBC called "Why Don't You?" encouraging children to take up activities that they might not otherwise consider. We're not suggesting that everyone goes out and does Ironman, but there are varying levels of Triathlon from Ironman down to much lesser distances. A Try Triathlon, for instance, comes in at a 360m swim, 10km bike ride and a 2.5km run. And it's worth bearing this in mind in the light of recent research from Copenhagen which suggests that, when it comes to the effect of exercises in reducing Metabolic Syndrome (the collection of factors such as blood pressure, abdominal fat and blood sugar that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes among other things) it's the intensity of the exercise that counts. Just going for a walk each day, even for an hour or more, does not make a difference, whereas more intense exercise, even if only raising the intensity up to fast walking and jogging, reduces the risks by as much as 50%.

Why Don't You?