Drink Up: Front-end Hydration Systems At The Ironman World Championship

  • By Aaron Hersh
  • Published Oct 12, 2012

With the popularity explosion of front-end hydration systems has come a diverse range of options. Most pros at the Ironman World Championship are using a bottle between the arms, but their specific choices span the full spectrum. Here’s what they’re riding and why.

Craig Alexander

What: Crowie carries a standard round bottle in the XLab Torpedo between his forearms. It situates the bottle directly behind his hands.

He also uses the Specialized Fuelselage, an internal bladder with a hose that sits next to his horizontal bottle.

Why: This combination gives Crowie every option: He can swap a bottle into the XLab Torpedo system, drink from a straw or refill the bladder with fluid he grabs on the course.

Greg Bennett

What: Bennett uses a unique bottle mount fashioned specifically for his fit on the BMC TM01 modular stem system. Two sheets of metal slot between the stem pieces and support another sheet of metal that positions a horizontal XLab Gorilla cage directly between his elbows.

Why: This special mount gives Bennett the benefit of swapping bottles on the course and keeps the space between his forearms open.

Mirinda Carfrae

What: Rinny has a Speedfil A2 Aero Bottle positioned between her elbow pads.

Why: This bottle sits horizontally between the arms like a standard removable bottle. Unlike Alexander’s XLab system, Carfrae’s stays fixed for the entire ride, allows her to drink from a straw and refill the bottle on the fly. It does not, however, let Carfrae grab and replace the bottle and take a quick swig.

Caroline Steffen

What: Steffen’s version of the 3T Aduro aerobar has a bottle boss in a horizontal crossbar that supports one half of a bottle cage. She uses a plastic bridge for the front support of her plastic cage, positioned horizontally between her arms.

Why: This set-up gives Steffen the flexibility to swap bottles on the course, but she has to draw the bottle from its cage to take a swig. She apparently has issues keeping the bottle in place; she loops a shoestring around the nipple to hold it down

Michael Raelert

What: BMC machined a special stem spacer for the front-end of his TM01 that replaces one of the standard modular stem. It has an extension that positions two water bottle bosses above and behind the stem.

Why: This one-of-a-kind bottle mount positions his hydration behind the stem and aerobars and between his elbows. He’ll swap the bottle on course.

Linsey Corbin

She is one of the last holdouts. Unlike most of her peers, Corbin doesn’t have a hydration system between her arms.

Heather Wurtele

What: The Canadian uses a Torhans Aero 30 vertical bottle. The refillable 30-ounce bottle is fixed between her aerobar extensions.

Why: A straw positioned beneath her mouth lets Wurtele drink without moving her hands, but doesn’t give her the option to quickly grab a bottle and put it between her forearms. Unlike the other options used by these professional’s, Wurtele’s bottle extends below her aerobar extensions.

Andy Potts

What: Nathan is prototyping a fixed horizontal aerobottle and Potts is their test guinea pig. This refillable 24-ounce bottle fits in a specifically designed mount and puts a straw in front of his lips.

Why: Potts’ first ride with this bottle was the Friday before the race, not exactly a lot of time to get accustomed. But if he decides to use it, Nathan’s yet-to-be-named bottle will let him refill and drink without removing the bottle. This system sits lower than Carfrae’s Speedfil and doesn’t have a tail extending beneath the bars like Wurtele’s.

FILED UNDER: Gear & Tech / Ironman TAGS:

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor of Triathlete magazine. To submit a question, write Aaron at

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