Two men, two women, one goal: swim, bike, and run faster than ever – over a total range of 226 kilometres. When attacking the best of times, the rules of the triathlon are decisively changed.
There is no memorizing in big words. “History is made here,” declared Chris McCormack. The 49-year-old from Australia, a two-time Ironman world champion, is practically the head of the “Sub7 and Sub8” project.
“Sub7” – less than 7 and “Sub8” – less than 8 hours. This is for swimming 3.86 km, cycling 180.2 km, and running 42.2 km. No one has traveled so fast. About 140 kilometers from Berlin, it must be so far on Pentecost in Lusatia. A lot is being done for that.
Champions: Iron Man World Champion and Olympic Champion Christian Blumenfelt of Norway, Joe Skipper of Great Britain for the men, Katrina Matthews also of Great Britain and Nicolas Spirij of Switzerland for the women. Plus a lot of pacemakers. There are none of the German triathlon masters. A spokeswoman said, at the request of the German news agency, that each athlete was selected according to his ability to achieve the set goal. “In the end, they are the ones who wanted to take part in the challenge.”
The current best athlete on the scene is in the beginning
Three-time Ironman World Champion Jan Frodino decided not to participate long before an Achilles tendon injury surfaced following a similar request. 2019 Hawaii Winner Anna Hauge isn’t there either. Nor does St. George’s World Champion Daniela Reeve of Switzerland, nor three-time Hawaiian silver medalist Lucy Charles Barkley. She wanted to participate, but had to cancel her start due to a thigh injury. Recently, two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee also eliminated.
However, the current best athlete on the scene is initially at Blumenfelt. At last year’s Ironman premiere, he set the best time over distance at 7:21:12 hours. He would thus have beaten the 7:27:53 hour Frodino, set up by the star in the man-to-man race according to the rules of the competition – that is, above all without slipping – in a continuous downpour in the Allgäu in the summer of 2021.
Promise of “Epic Battle”
Just under a month ago, Blumenfelt won the Ironman World Championship for the first time in the absence of the injured Frodino. ‘Epic battle’, the 28-year-old Norwegian promises to see the race this weekend – one under lab conditions like Eliud Kipchoge’s two-hour marathon in October 2019 in Vienna. Sunday is scheduled for race day in Lausitz, if the weather is not suitable then White Monday is used instead.
Like the other three professionals, Blummenfelt was allowed to select up to ten pacemakers. Professionals in their disciplines, specialists, and especially on the bike, skating is strictly forbidden—and resented—in competitions in the Ironman Series or Challenge. There should be ten to twelve meters between drivers.
Perfect conditions for record times
“The purpose of the ban on outdoor skating is that participants cannot rest in a stream for other athletes, thus saving energy,” says the home page of the German Triathlon Federation, aimed even for beginners’ races. However, the standard attempt would look like the team time trial at the Tour de France.
Up to 30 percent of the voltage in a group can be saved into the mains. This is no small feat in sports in which it is important, after the bike, to have good legs in the marathon. It is critical to try to stay less than seven hours for men and less than eight hours for women. Blummenfelt wants to keep running under 2:30 hours: He has 3:33 minutes per kilometer.
But even in the water, everything is designed for the best time. Approximately four kilometers into Lake Senftenberg swim in a straight line. Every turn will take time. After switching to the bike, approximately 20 kilometers from Lausitzring, on the racetrack you continue to drive and then run. Ideal conditions for record times. The event was created “in order to achieve a new global standard for physical performance,” according to the organizer, who described the attempt as “a challenge to the impossible.”