Timothy Moore is the author of Sub Nine – History’s Fastest Ironwomen. The book is a compilation of snapshots of each woman who has broken into that magical nine hour club up until last year. Since the book was published, there have been nine new amazing members who have also joined. “In the last four seasons in particular, professional women triathletes have been pacing each other to faster and faster times.” We caught up with Timothy on his motivations behind writing this book, the women he profiled and where he sees the future of women in triathlon.


* What was your motivation behind writing this book?

The initial idea for the book came about five years ago. It was driven in part by having had the opportunity to train with some superb women athletes. Some of whom were/are pros including Charlotte Paul and Lisa Marangon. I wanted to write about the elite of the elite, and to record a part of the history of the sport. I also hoped to write a book that might help motivate the next generation of athletes.

* Paula Newby Fraser’s 14-year record looked like it was almost set in cement. When did you start to realise that a new crop of women could potentially break the record?

The idea of the book was also driven by a realisation that many athletes, including Yvonne van Vlerken, weren’t receiving much credit for their accomplishments. It was Yvonne’s superb 2007 season, including Sub Nine races in Roth and Almere, that really had me thinking about what seemed inevitable. That led me to write a story for Triathlete magazine that was published in June 2008, just weeks before she reset the world record. She was the fastest of seven women who smashed the nine-hour mark on July 13 that year (at Roth).

Click here to go to Sub Nine Blog

* Who have been the biggest game changers in the history of women in triathlon?

Paula Newby-Fraser (PNF) and Chrissie Wellington. PNF will always be the standard for pro women. It would seem improbable that her record of eight wins in Kona will be matched or broken. She was the most dominant athlete from 1986 to 1996. As for Chrissie, she has helped reset the standard for pro women of this era.

* Out of all of the women’s performances in the Sub Nine Club, what do you think is the stand out?

I think the standout performance in the book was by Thea Sybesma. She was the first person to finish Sub Nine, which she did in Roth in 1991. “Winning was very important,” she told me. “I never raced as if I was simply training.”

* Who was the most interesting athlete that you interviewed, and why?

Kate Allen. She excelled at both short-course and long-distance triathlon. She has two Sub Nine finishes, and of course an Olympic Gold Medal (2004). “I never really committed to the Ironman distance,” she told me. She struck me as a particularly grounded person. Allen says she retired with no regrets and I think that’s key for athletes as they transition to the next chapter of their lives.

* Were there any athletes who surprised you in any way?

I asked most of the athletes to define success, and almost to a fault, they said it was about being the best they could be. What also surprised me was how common it was among them all to have been very active as kids. Not necessarily competitive, but encouraged from a young age to play. I think that’s a huge message for society today. Just as interesting as those women who’ve gone Sub Nine, is the list of athletes who didn’t, or haven’t yet finished in less than nine hours: Natascha Badmann, Heather Fuhr, Karen Smyers, Michellie Jones, Kelly Williamson or Caitlin Snow.

* Since you’ve published the book, there have been several women who have joined the club – can you tell us a little something special about those performances?

There have been nine new members since I published the book a year ago. Julia Wagner, Mary Beth Ellis, Diana Riesler, Heleen bij de Vaate, Jessica Jacobs, Leanda Cave, Linsey Corbin, Caroline Steffen and Rachel Joyce. Their performances on five different courses confirm the wave of confidence flowing through the ranks of the pro women. It’s why I have written that I expect more women will enter the club this calendar year and why I think Chrissie’s records will be challenged sooner than later.

* Like you’ve mentioned, athletes like Chrissie Wellington have truly raised the bar. How much higher do you see that bar getting in years to come and how do you see things changing for women in our sport?

Chrissie definitely opened the door. She kicked it down – at least that’s how I see it. She’s given her peers a reason to rethink what they can accomplish. That’s why the future is so bright. What’s striking is that Caroline Steffen smashed her previous PB by about half an hour to win at Ironman Melbourne. No doubt she had a stellar day, but she doesn’t think that she’s reached her potential yet. She’s not alone. Winning in Melbourne appears to have inspired Steffen to work harder and race faster. I suspect we’ll see other athletes significantly resetting the bar for themselves too.

* If you were a betting man, who would you be backing to be standing on the podium in Kona? 

photo courtesy of www.sweatmedia.com

Kona is such a special environment. Winning there is more about strategy than speed per se. Though it would appear that you will need a Sub Nine performance to win there based on the last three years. Natascha Badmann has six wins in Kona and yet no Sub Nine performances in her career. Lori Bowden has three Sub Nines, but never in Kona, which she won twice. I think past success on the Big Island though has proven the best indicator of what lies ahead. So my top two, in no particular order, for this year would be Mirinda Carfrae and Caroline Steffen. Carfrae has two Sub Nines in Kona; one for the win in 2010 and of course second last year. Three others to watch, though it’s still early in the season: Rachel Joyce, Mary Beth Ellis and Rebekah Keat. Carfrae, Steffen and Joyce have each been in the top five in Kona in 2011 and 2010.

* Do you have any other projects coming up?

My key focus is keeping the Sub Nine blog current. I have a few ideas that I’m mulling over, but they aren’t yet ready for the light of day. I’m working on the stories of the nine new members of the club, and counting, for a second edition of the book.

 

TOP 10 IRONWOMEN TIMES

1st – 8:18:13 Chrissie Wellington Roth 2011

2nd – 8:19:13 Chrissie Wellington Roth 2010

3rd – 8:31:39 Chrissie Wellington Roth 2009

4th – 8:33:56 Chrissie Wellington IM South Africa 2010

5th – 8:34:51 Caroline Steffen IM Melbourne 2012

6th – 8:36:13 Chrissie Wellington IM Arizona 2010

7th – 8:39:24 Rebekah Keat Roth 2009

8th – 8:43:34 Mary Beth Ellis Austria 2011

9th – 8:45:48 Yvonne van Vlerken Roth 2008

10th – 8:46:09 Rachel Joyce IM Melbourne 2012

 

TOP 6 FASTEST IRONWOMEN

1st – Chrissie Wellington

2nd – Caroline Steffen

3rd – Rebekah Keat

4th – Mary Beth Ellis

5th – Yvonne Van Vlerken

6th – Rachel Joyce

 

31 WOMEN IN THE SUB-NINE HOUR CLUB

Kate Allen, Bella Bayliss, Lori Bowden, Mirinda Carfrae, Leanda Cave, Linsey Corbin, Gina Crawford, Erika Csomor, Mary Beth Ellis, Ines Estedt, Belinda Granger, Irma Heeren, Rebekah Keat, Nina Kraft, Jessica Jacob, Rachel Joyce, Susan Latshaw, Joanna Lawn, Catriona Morrison, Paula Newby-Fraser, Edith Niederfriniger, Diana Riesler, Caroline Steffen, Thea Sybesma, Sonja Tajsich, Heleen bij de Vaate, Yvonne Van Vlerken, Sandra Wallenhorst, Chrissie Wellington, Julia Wagner, and Katinka Wiltenberg

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  1. Tim Moore: Sub Nine – History’s Fastest Ironwomen | Sirius Athletes

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