Inside Triathlon magazine announces its picks for the 10 greatest male iron-distance triathletes of all time.
Whenever you put the word “greatest” in front of an athlete’s name, people start to bristle. And while it’s hard to pick the greatest male iron-distance triathlete of all time, Inside Triathlon magazine’s staff got to talking about our picks for the athletes to consider. In fairness, we’ve listed them in alphabetical order. Let us know who you think by contacting us on Twitter and Facebook. To subscribe, click here.
Luc Van Lierde
In 1996, the Belgian became the first European to win in Hawaii in his first attempt at the distance and set the course record that still stands today. The following year in Roth at Ironman Europe, Van Lierde set a new Ironman world record in 7:50:27. He won his second Hawaii title in 1999. His other wins included back-to-back wins in Malaysia (’03, ’04). Photo: Rich Cruse
“The Norminator” tasted success at Ironman Hawaii with a third (’00) and two fourth place finishes (’03, ’04) before proving to pundits—twice—that it was possible for a cyclist to win on the Big Island. He won with time to spare in 2004 but needed every second of his fastest-ever bike split of 4:18:23 in 2006 to defeat runner-up Chris McCormack by a scant 71 seconds. The German won consecutive Australia titles (’00, ’01) and won the European Championships at Ironman Germany in 2005. Photo: Nils Nilsen
“The Man” was the first athlete inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame, due in large part to his six Hawaiian Ironman victories (’80, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’86 and ’87). He finished on the short end of the stick in the fabled Iron War against Mark Allen in 1989 in the closest finish in Hawaii Ironman history. After taking time off, he returned at 40 years old to finish second in 1994 and followed that up two years later with a fifth place finish at age 42 (’96). Photo: Nick Salazar
On his blog Reid jokes that he “bombed” in Kona three times during his career. It is easy to forgot those years when he won the big dance on three separate occasions (’98, ’00, ’03), finished runner-up three times (’99, ’02, ’04) and took third once (’05). Reid captured two in-a-row at Canada (’00, ’01), three straight Australia titles (’97, ’98, ’99) and one in Austria (’99). He owns the third fastest time ever (7:51:56) and the fastest marathon (2:35:21). Photo: Lois Schwartz
After tasting success with a debut win at Ironman Australia in 2002—where he would go on to win five straight times—Macca failed in the lava fields until 2005, when he changed his approach and finished with the fastest run of the day. He finished runner-up to Stadler by only 71 seconds the following year (’06) and went on to win in 2007 and again in 2010. Macca has broken eight hours on three occasions with times including 7:57:50, 7:56:13 and 7:54:22. Photo: Bob Kupbens/Competitive Image
Dubbed “Hell on Wheels” due to his cycling prowess, the diminutive German changed the dynamics of how the race could be won in Kona. He was runner-up twice, once to Mark Allen (’95) and once to Luc Van Lierde (’96), but captured the win in 1997. He finished top ten in Kona eight times, his personal best was 7:57 and he won in Lanzarote (‘95,’03), Canada (’96), Lake Placid (’99) and New Zealand (’00). Photo: Rich Cruse
After working his way up through the age-group ranks, the Iowan training out of Boulder, Colo., won back-to-back Ironman Hawaii titles in 2001 and 2002, making him one of four champions to achieve consecutive wins. He finished runner-up (’00), third (’99) and fourth (’07) in his other top Kona outings. He won New Zealand (’99) and finished ahead of brother Tony to win California (’01). Photo: Robert Oliver
Despite never winning on the Big Island, no athlete has dominated a single venue like Brownie has, in Taupo at Ironman New Zealand. He won his home country race nine times from 2001 to 2010 and will be attempting a record tenth win in early March. In 2006, he overcame a bike crash in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Ironman European Championships to beat Normann Stadler. It was the same year the German would go on to win Kona for the second time. Brown finished runner-up in Kona twice (’01, ’05), third twice (’02, ’03), and he was in the top ten at the world championships six times in total. Photo: Robert Oliver
Despite early disappointments on the Big Island, “The Grip” snapped a series of runner-up finishes to Scott (’86, ’87), and he pulled away to win the Iron War in 1989. Allen won the next five times he raced the Hawaiian Ironman, for six total victories in Kona (’89, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’95). Early in his Ironman career, he finished third (’83), and completed his legendary career with 11 top ten finishes in Kona. Photo: Rich Cruse
While he has fewer accolades over the full Ironman distance than many of his peers, his approach in each of his five Ironman race performances has been calculated and yielded impressive results. After finishing runner-up to McCormack in his debut in Kona in 2007, Crowie became the fourth athlete to win back-to-back Kona titles in 2008 and 2009. He placed fourth in 2010. Photo: Robert Murphy
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