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« Super Slo-Mo of Pro Women on Bike at Kona | Main | Ironbaby Update! »

Fast Couples? - Who and How Much

 This guest post is provided by Thorsten at Thanks, Thorsten!

(Caroline Steffen and David Dellow- Caroline Steffen's Blog)

Some people say that training for a triathlon - especially a long distance triathlon - can lead to breakups. One of my friends used to say that if you have a girlfriend, you're not training enough. But if both people are into it, the situation is different: There are some well known couples in Pro Triathlon that are both really good athletes. Some of the great early triathletes were athlete couples: Mark Allen and Julie Moss or Scott Molina and Erin Baker. A bit later we had Peter Reid and Lori Boden - they both won IM Australia 1999 and IM Canada 2000, and they went 1/2 in Kona 2000.

Who's the fastest couple? Part 1: Kona 2012

In Kona 2012, there were three couples in the Pro field:

Total TimeTotal RankNameFinishRank
17:52:00 11 Caroline Steffen 09:16:58 2
David Dellow 08:35:02 9
17:55:09 11 Mirinda Carfrae 09:21:41 3
Timothy O’Donnell 08:33:28 8
19:29:11 52 Heather Wurtele 09:44:04 14
Trevor Wurtele 09:45:07 38

(Actually, the three are in different states of their relationship: David and Caroline are just partners, Tim and Rinnie are engaged, and the Wurteles are married. There is another pair that shares the last name, but to my knowledge Pete Jacobs and Jessica Jacobs are not related.)

Looking at these numbers, the race for the fastest couple was pretty close: David and Caroline edged out Tim and Rinnie by just about three minutes - with all of them placing in the Top 10. Trevor and Heather were a bit behind - but Trevor qualifying for Kona was a bonus, and Heather didn't quite have the day she was hoping for.


(Chrissie Wellington and Tom Lowe - GSG Photography)

Who's the fastest couple? Part 2: But wait, there are more!

If you've been following triathlon for a while, you'll know there are a lot more Pro couples than just these three. However, as not all of them are racing in Kona, it is tricky to build a ranking for all "long distance couples".

For example, you have Tom Lowe and Chrissie Wellington. Chrissie hasn't raced in Kona 2012, but she finished Kona 2011 in 8:55 - what time would be the equivalent in 2012? This is one of the goals of my website "Thorsten's Triathlon Rating" at - to make results from different years comparable. (Based on my analysis, Kona 2012 was about 10 minutes slower than 2011.)

If you take Tom, he raced Kona 2011 in 8:29 and Kona 2012 in 8:53. He also raced a couple of other races (Arizona 2010 and Austria 2011 and 2012). I'm pulling all of these results together into an athlete's rating (which is a weighted average of finishing times adjusted for course and race conditions, favoring the more recent results.) For Tom, I get a rating of 8:34 which is the expected finishing time on an "average" course with average race conditions.

I can also average the adjustments for a course from the different years, thus allowing a comparison between different courses. For example, Kona has a course rating of -4:37, Arizona is a 8:10 course. So based on my data and analysis, Arizona is nearly 13 minutes quicker than Kona. If you are interested in more details or an ongoing analysis of race results, please check out!

Who's the fastest couple? Part 3: Ratings

Based on the ratings, here is a ranking of the fastest Ironman couples:

RankTotal RatingNameRating
1 17:25:46 Tom Lowe 08:34:01
Chrissie Wellington 08:51:45
2 17:41:07 David Dellow 08:24:34
Caroline Steffen 09:16:33
3 17:47:29 Timothy O’Donnell 08:38:35
Mirinda Carfrae 09:08:54
4 18:09:50 Torsten Abel 08:45:52
Leanda Cave 09:23:58
5 18:25:55 Brandon Marsh 09:00:13
Amy Marsh 09:25:42
6 18:26:55 Stephen Bayliss 08:46:45
Bella Bayliss 09:40:10
7 18:40:47 Trevor Wurtele 09:09:00
Heather Wurtele 09:31:47
8 18:51:32 Maik Twelsiek 08:41:02
Hillary Biscay 10:10:30
9 18:52:17 Guy Crawford 09:23:09
Gina Crawford 09:29:08
10 18:56:28 Lothar Leder 09:07:50
Nicole Leder 09:48:38
11 19:05:57 Justin Granger 09:26:04
Belinda Granger 09:39:53
12 19:07:29 Chris McDonald 08:47:57
Marilyn McDonald 10:19:32
13 19:55:30 Luke McKenzie 08:43:33
Amanda McKenzie 11:11:57
14 20:00:45 Michael Lovato 08:51:02
Amanda Lovato 11:09:43
15 20:04:59 Tyler Butterfield 09:35:20
Nikki Butterfield 10:29:39

There could be some debate about the top spot - as Chrissie hasn't raced in more than a year, technically I don't consider her active any more. But as she and Tom are so far ahead of David and Caroline, I'm pretty sure that they would still be ahead even if Chrissie's comeback race turns out not so well. After that, the close fight between David/Caroline and Tim/Rinnie continues, although the difference is a bit larger when looking at the ratings instead of the Kona results.

Who's the fastest couple? Part 4: Who did we miss, who's coming up?

I've probably missed a few Pro couples, if so, please let me know by sending me an email to As I'm based in Germany and spend my time working out and analyzing results, I may have missed some social media discussions.

We may also see some additions to the table in the future. James Cunnama's partner Jodie Swallow is getting in shape for an Ironman, with James's rating of 08:38:32 they have a good shot at the Top 5. Another addition may be Brett's friends John Hirsch and Christine Lynch - John already has a rating of 09:43:32, and if Christine turns Pro next season ...

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