It’s pretty difficult to compute an overall Ironman Triathlon average time.

It’s your first Ironman Triathlon. How long will it take you?

That’s a difficult question to answer because just how are you supposed to come up with an average time if you factored in a number of races.

For example, the result wouldn’t be very accurate if you took 20 Ironman races from around the world and tried to come up with an average.

Here are three reasons why. I’m sure there are many more but these three are probably among the top.

  • EVERY COURSE IS DIFFERENT

    It’s hard to come up with an accurate average because there are no two Ironman courses that are alike. The swim could be in an ocean, a lake, or a river. The bike and the run could be hilly or flat.

  • THE WEATHER IS A HUGE FACTOR

    Who knows what the weather is going to be like. How can you compare a race with no wind to a race with gale force winds? It could be blistering hot or really darn cold. How can you compare rough ocean water to a placid pancake-flat lake?

  • JUST HOW OLD ARE YOU ANYWAY?

    Of course age is a huge factor. There are ideal ages for endurance athletes. If you’re between 20 and 30 you might have tons of speed, but chances are the triathlete who is between 30 and 45 will have better endurance. As you go up the age ladder, times begin to get slower.

Here is an example of how the Ironman Triathlon average time can even differ for the pros.

These are results from a past year when Ironman Canada, Ironman Louisville, and Ironman Wisconsin took place within two weeks of each other.

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The 10th place pro male in Ironman Canada would have been in 3rd place with that same time in Wisconsin or Louisville. In other words he would have been standing on the podium.

The top ten pro men in Ironman Canada all crossed the line in under nine hours. Back in Louisville only four of the top ten were in under nine hours.

Ironman Triathlon average time  -a triathlon clock

The clock is ticking


The top nine pro women in Ironman Canada were in under the ten hour mark. Only the top three in both Louisville and Wisconsin managed to break ten hours.

You can bet that it was just the same across all the age-groups as well. Most likely the age-group times in Ironman Canada across the board were faster than the other two races.
[bctt tweet=”Who cares if you crawl across the Ironman finish line. As long as you get the shirt.
via Ironstruck”]

However when it comes to age-group athletes there are some things that stay the same no matter where you race your Ironman.

If you finish the swim between 1:15 and 1:40 chances are you are going to have plenty of company when you come out of the water. It you can do swim under 1:15 you will have a lot more room to maneuver during the 2.4-mile swim and also in the swim/bike transition area.

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You will also have a lot of room on the swim course and in transition if your swim time is between 1:40-2:15. It will also be easier to find your bike. So are you a fast swimmer, an average swimmer, or a slow swimmer just trying to beat the cut-off?

Lets go with the average swimmer. Most likely your time will be around 1:20.

Super fast age-group cyclists can cover the 112-mile bike in 5:30-5:35. On the other end of the spectrum some will take almost seven hours. Many first time triathletes fall in the 5:50 to 6:35 range. So lets say 6:20 is a good average for the Ironman bike.

When it comes to the Ironman marathon, there are very few age-groupers who will run under 3:30. Then there are some who are out there for over seven hours. Most will finish the marathon between 4:00 and 5:20. If you are biking around 6:20, then it fits that your run time will be around 4:35-4:40.

With transitions the average triathlete would most likely cross the finish line with an Ironman Triathlon average time between 12:10-12:40. The very fast ones will be under 11 hours. The ones who just want to finish will average around 15 hours.

These are just ballpark figures, but look at any set of results and those are pretty much the three distinct Ironman time zones. The fast, the average, and I just want to cross the line no matter what group.

People will ask you how fast you expect to finish your first Ironman. Tell them you have no idea. Because really, you don’t. Anything can happen out there and who knows if you will be faster or slower than the Ironman Triathlon average time?

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