The Ironman Triathlon is one of the most grueling and well-respected physical tests out there. Infamous for its length and difficulty, completing an Ironman is no easy feat.
Anyone attempting an Ironman triathlon will have trained for months (or even years) prior, and many still struggle to complete it.
However, that’s not to say it’s impossible. And while completing an Ironman is a great achievement on its own, it’s still technically a race. So whether you’re attempting your first Ironman or simply want to know where you rank, this is the article for you.
It will take a look at the average completion time by gender and age, as well as breaking down each section and the time it takes to complete.
Are you ready? Then let’s get started!
What Is An Ironman?
First of all, you should know what an Ironman is. As the name would suggest, the Ironman is a triathlon, consisting of three different challenges.
These are a swimming portion, a cycling section, and a final marathon run. Each of these segments is a massive challenge to complete due to their length and the fact that they come back to back.
Ironman Triathlons are renowned for their length, being substantially longer than most others. For an Ironman, you must complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. By contrast, an Olympic Triathlon is considerably shorter, with a 0.93-mile swim, a 24.8-mile cycle, and a 6.2-mile run.
This length makes the Ironman an incredibly difficult endurance challenge, and as such, the average time for completion is much longer than other triathlons.
Average Ironman Times
There is a wide range of times across all demographics, which (when combined with the extremely long times) makes calculating an exact average difficult.
Overall, men had shorter times than women, usually completing an Ironman approximately one hour faster. For both genders, the cycling section takes the longest time to complete due to its massive duration.
The best performing age group is the same across both genders, with the best participants being aged between 25-40 years of age. The age also peaks around 30-35 for both men and women.
While the overall times differ between demographics, certain parts of the triathlon take longer for women to complete than men, even when considered in proportion to the total time.
These times have been broken down below, sorted by gender, the part of the triathlon, the total time, and the age brackets.
Overall, men tend to complete the Ironman in less time than women, with men aged between 30-40 performing the best out of all demographics. The overall average time for an Ironman amongst men is 12 hours and 38 minutes.
As the shortest section of an Ironman, the swimming section is predictably the quickest to complete. On average, a man will take 1 hour and 18 minutes to complete the 2.4-mile swim.
The cycling segment takes the longest for both genders. The average male participant will finish the 112-miles in 6 hours and 13 minutes, just under half of the entire triathlon.
Although it is less than a quarter of the length of the bike section, the extended 26.6-mile marathon will still take the average man 4 hours and 50 minutes.
Including an average of 17 minutes in transition times between the three sections, the average time for a man to complete an Ironman is 12 hours and 38 minutes.
On average, women take longer to complete an Ironman. Despite this, there are many parallels between the average man’s performance and the average woman’s.
Once again the shortest part of the triathlon, there isn’t much difference between the men’s and women’s times for the swim. The average time for a woman to complete the swim is 1 hour and 23 minutes, just 5 minutes slower than the average for men.
The main difference in times comes from the 112-mile cycle, which takes 6 hours and 45 minutes on average. This half-hour difference makes up for half of the total time difference between men and women.
After the previous sections, the 26.2-mile run is the home stretch. While faster than the cycling part, it will still take women an average of 5 hours and 10 minutes to complete.
With the addition of 17 minutes for transition times, the total average time for women to complete an Ironman is 13 hours and 35 minutes, just under an hour longer than the average man.
Different age demographics perform differently. Older participants will take longer to complete an Ironman, and participants who are especially young may also struggle more with the challenge.
As mentioned previously, the ideal age range for both genders is between 25-40 years old, with people aged 30-35 having the best times.
Men and women aged between 65-70 take the longest to finish, with an average time of around 15 hours.
Participants who are younger than 25 years old also have slower times, although they still have a faster average time than the overall average for both genders.
Women aged under 25 typically finish under 13 and a half hours, while men of the same age range complete it in a little under 13 hours.
Men aged between 30-40 have the best times on average, coming in at just over 12 hours.
The hour difference between men and women stays relatively consistent across all age groups, only changing when reaching ages above 60.
But no matter your gender or age, if you want to go for an Ironman the only target you need to achieve is the one you set for yourself. If you put in the effort and training to complete an Ironman, your time isn’t the most important thing. The main accomplishment is finishing in the first place.
So whether you’re participating in your first Ironman, or wanting to beat your own time, the only thing left to do is give it your all.