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The Science Says a Sub-Seven-Hour Ironman Is (Sort of) Possible

The Science Says a Sub-Seven-Hour Ironman Is (Sort of) Possible

Sweat Science Like the two-hour marathon chase, next month’s assault on the seven- and eight-hour Ironman barriers will require some rule-bending Get full access to…

Saturday, May 14

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Sweat Science

Like the two-hour marathon chase, next month’s assault on the seven- and eight-hour Ironman barriers will require some rule-bending Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ .

On June 5, four of the world’s greatest long-distance triathletes will take aim at a couple of those round-number barriers we love to obsess about. There’s the four-minute mile, the two-hour marathon… and now, the seven-hour (for men) and eight-hour (for women) Ironman-distance triathlons.

The catchily named Pho3nix Sub7 and Sub8 Powered by Zwift races are explicitly modeled on Eliud Kipchoge’s two-hour marathon events . Like Kipchoge’s races, they’re funded by an enthusiastic billionaire (in this case the Polish businessman Sebastian Kulczyk , through his foundation promoting kids’ fitness ). They’ll take place on a specially designed course with tweaked race rules allowing a bunch of pacemakers. And like the original Breaking2 race, the initial reaction from knowledgeable observers was that the goal is probably out of reach.

In anticipation of the attempt, pro triathlete Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches , a sports science doctoral student at the University of Sherbrooke, along with his supervisor Éric Goulet, has published a preprint (meaning an article submitted to an academic journal but not yet peer-reviewed) assessing whether a sub-7 Ironman is possible, and if not, how much external assistance (like pacing) would be required to close the gap. He started out as a skeptic, but […]

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