Your ironman finish time in your first attempt can mean different things to different people.

If you are taking on your very first Ironmen it would probably be best to just set your sights on the finish line and let the time take care of itself.

It seems that some people are fixated on their finish time when it comes to their first attempt at the Ironman.

They often see that someone has a finish time of 14 or 15 or 16 hours and somehow assume they are not as much deserving as Ironman status as someone who can finish an Ironman in 10, 11, 12, or 13 hours.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Even one of the top pros once said after winning Ironman Canada one year, the true Ironmen are the ones who are out there putting everything on the line for 15 hours or more.

ironman finish time  -three triathletes riding bikes

Even once you have done several races, your ironman finish time will ebb and flow. There is no guarantee that if you train harder between Ironman races that your next will be faster than your last.

Every Ironman race is unique and there are just so many variables that can impact your finish time. The weather and water conditions might be far different from year to year.

You may go into one race with the perfect taper and fully rested and you could mess it all up the next year. You may train differently, diet differently, or simply have a better day and any one of those factors can determine your finish time.

If anyone ever asks me what time they should shoot for in their first Ironman, I have no problem telling them not to worry about time.

Enjoy the day you have worked so hard for.

Embrace just being part of the event along with hundreds of others who share the water and road with you in search of Ironman immortality.

“The time to decide on what course you want your Ironman career to take is probably best decided once you have experienced your first one”.

At that point, you might want to change your expectations.


I was thrilled to finish my first Ironman regardless of my official ironman finish time, and could have cared less about how long it took.

My time was just around 14:20. It was what it was. It could just have well have been 13,15, or 16 hours.

To me, the time it took to reach the finish line was of little consequence in my first attempt at the Ironman.

It was over the next year that I decided that I would try and improve my time in my future races and two years later my time was around 12:15.

From that point on I wanted to do as well as I could in my age-group. I trained harder and harder and eventually did Ironman Canada in 10:46. Over the years I qualified twice more for Kona, but chose not to go back.

I had already crossed that finish line and also because Ironman Canada and Kona were simply too close together in those days.

As the years passed in my Ironman career, finish time once again became irrelevant to me and my finish times reverted back to over 14 hours again.

I had gone full circle and was now once again doing the Ironman just to be a part of the event.


There were also three of fourteen races that I did not finish.

Once I had food poisoning from the carbo dinner, another time I had a heel injury going in but had decided to do the swim and bike anyway and drop out in the run.

My reasoning was that I had already paid for the race so might as well enjoy and experience at least part of it, so it was a planned DNF.

The third time I was struck with insomnia on about the Wednesday before the race and for 4 nights only managed about 6 hours sleep in total. I did the swim and the bike and then my body just gave out.

To some, the races where I DNF’d might look like failures, but for me were actually learning experiences and catalysts for several sections in my book Ironstruck…..The Ironman Triathlon Journey.

I was able to write with a certain clarity of some of these pitfalls that others can avoid.

For instance not paying attention to what I was eating just before an Ironman cost me. It cost me a year’s training, about $3000 for traveling and hotels, and three weeks holidays. It also cost me a lot of heartache. I never made the same mistake again.

Over-training caused my heel injury and most likely the insomnia that eventually cost me two more finishes. It taught me to take a lot more rest time and not push so hard.

In the last race I competed in, I crashed just at the end of the first bike loop in CDA, Idaho.

I tore the A/C in my shoulder and basically finished the last half of the bike course with one arm and eventually finished the race in just under 14 hours.


Time is really what you want to make of it when it comes to the Ironman. Everyone has their own journey to make. Don’t ever let anyone try and make you feel guilty about your Ironman result.

They either don’t understand the Ironman or are other triathletes who have a bit too much testosterone and figure being faster makes them better than you.

Of course that’s nonsense.

If everyone’s ironman finish time determined the success or failure of their race, then the Ironman would be run by pros and nobody else. What would be the fun in that? There is nowhere to hide in the Ironman.

Regardless of your age or ability you still have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. That makes you as awesome as anyone else in the race.

If your time is not the fastest you still have shown the heart and passion it takes just to answer the starting gun whatever your ironman finish time happens to be.


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