2011 was witness to two new world records being made at the Ironman Europe and Hawaii Ironman races. The year also saw crucial milestones occur within the sport’s national governing body USA Triathlon. This year marked the passing of one of the most influential and inspirational masters triathlete as well.
Vanhoenacker sets new Ironman record
Marino Vanhoenacker has been joining duathlons and triathlons since 1997. He tasted his first major success in 2001 when he took 5th place in Ironman Florida. He has been competing regularly except in 2002, and has since won a handful of Ironman and ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship titles.
July of 2011 was extra special for Vanhoenacker though for he set a new Ironman record. He clocked an astounding 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 58 seconds at the 2011 Ironman Austria, beating fellow Belgian Luc Van Lierde’s 1997 record by over four minutes.
Death of Charlie Futrell
August 19 of this year marked the death of an inspiring masters triathlete, Charlie Futrell. Futrell, as can be remembered, joined the 1992 Hawaii Ironman, his first ever race in Kailua-Kona. Futrell was 72 years old at that time and was declared 3rd overall and best American finisher for his age group category. Two months prior to his death, Futrell took part in the Central Florida Triathlon Series in Clermont, Florida where he became the oldest person to ever finish a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event. He was 92 years old.
Alexander makes new Hawaii Ironman record
Australian Craig Alexander has been competing in triathlons since 1997. Though largely self-taught in this grueling endurance sport, Alexander managed to win two Hawaii Ironman golds in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, Alexander decided to work with renowned triathlon coach Chris Carmichael. Their collaboration proved highly favorable for it resulted in Alexander setting a new record of 8 hours, 3 minutes, and 56 seconds at the 2011 Hawaii Ironman, beating Luc Van Lierde’s 1996 Hawaii Ironman record.
USA Triathlon celebrates milestones
2011 saw a handful of landmarks for the national governing organization USA Triathlon. At the end of this year, USA Triathlon’s membership was over 140,000. The organization, through the Officials Program it initiated in August 1987, trained and certified race directors and triathlon coaches as well, which totaled to more than 500 and 2,100, respectively, by the year’s end. Lastly, the number of triathlon clubs officially affiliated with the USA Triathlon was close to one thousand by December of this year, further proof of the sport’s continuing growth in the country.