Ironman Run Pace Per Age Group

The first time I discussed Ironman races with a friend, he told me: “I am always happy once the run portion starts. I know that I can stop and walk if I need to.” Whereas I tend to agree with him, walking the 26.2 mi doesn’t sound too fun to me 🙂

Let’s check how long triathletes need on average.

The average run time across Ironman races is 4h52 min which translates to a pace of 11:09 min/mi or 06:55 min/km. The women cover 26.2 mi in 5h08 min (or 11:45 min/mi or 7:18 min/km) and the men in 4h49 min (or 11:02 min/mi or 6:51 min/km).

I found out that those times depend significantly on the Age Group and the specific course. So let’s check that in more detail.

METHODOLOGY

I checked all Ironman races from 2019 and excluded the shortened ones. So the final database consists of 55,123 times from age-groupers and 731 from pros.
A special thanks to Coach Cox, who gathers the results of all Ironman (and Ironman 70.3) events. He made my life easier!

AVERAGE IRONMAN RUN PACE PER AGE GROUP

As you can see in the graph below, the average run pace for the men is 11:02 min/mi. The highest pace is reached in the age groups 30-34 and 35-39 (10:28 min/mi). As I am 32 years old, I only have 8 years to wait to see slower paces finally 😀

I find the massive gap between the first and the average age groupers (roughly 3:40 min/mi difference) fascinating. It is 1h35min over a marathon distance!

Even when I analyzed the Ironman bike speed (link to my article), I didn’t see such a big gap between the two groups (roughly 1h20min). I see it as proof that Ironman distance is an endurance event. As the run is the last leg of a triathlon, the difference in form between triathletes is emphasized.

It is a pretty similar situation for the women. They run at an average pace of 11:45 min/mi, roughly 3:20 min/mi slower than the first triathletes. The fastest age group is the 25-29 with an average pace of 11:05 min/mi.

AVERAGE IRONMAN RUN PACE PER RACE

Kona, which is the World Championship, is the fastest Ironman field in the world without big surprise. The average pace over all age groups is 9:40 min/mi for the men and 10:30 min/mi for the women.

On the men’s field, if we exclude Kona, Vittoria-Gasteiz is the fastest course with an average pace of 9:57 min/mi. Compare it with the slowest race, Chattanooga, and you will spend 1h18 more on the run course (average pace of 12:55 min/mi).

Chattanooga is the slowest course on the women’s field, with an average pace of 13:19 min/mi. The fastest course is Lanzarote with 10:26 min/mi average.

WHAT IS THE RUN CUT OFF TIME FOR AN IRONMAN?

Most of the Ironman races have a 17h cut-off time. This time limit is based on the triathlete’s own chip time and consists of the entire race: swim, transition 1, bike, transition 2, and run. Exceeding this time will result in a DNF (Did Not Finish).

This cut-off time can vary a lot per race, check out my article Ironman Time Limits Per Sport And Per Race for more details.

If you enjoyed this analysis, have a look at those two articles which cover the swim and bike legs of Ironman races: