December 13, 2021

PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETES ORGANISATION CLARIFIES ITS “FASTEST TIMES” LISTING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13th December 2021

LONDON, ENGLAND: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today clarifies the misunderstanding of its “Fastest Times” listing on its website. The issue has arisen as a result of an excellent article by Kevin Mackinnon in Triathlon Magazine Canada here.

Kevin is one of the most seasoned and well-respected journalists in our sport and his article is a good examination of how, under the current system, it is both unhelpful and almost impossible to benchmark what a “world record” long distance time is. We could not agree more. We love and respect Kevin and his piece is excellent, however the headline suggests the PTO made an active executive decision to remove Blummenfelt’s Cozumel results from our “record list” and that the PTO is not recognising his Ironman® World Record, which is not the case.  We are very pleased that debate goes on in our sport and we would not normally respond but rather let everyone enjoy it over some hot eggnog in front of a toasty fire. The only reason we are making this clarification is because it may have left the impression that we were not recognising a tremendous performance by one of our PTO Professionals, and that is something we need to correct. 

The PTO recognises and celebrates Blummenfelt’s “Ironman® World Record” and has been actively promoting this tremendous performance. We celebrate each one of the outstanding performances of all our PTO Professionals and dedicated race organisers. Ironman® records, Challenge Roth records, Challenge Family records, World Triathlon records, Olympic records, Super League records, independent race records, we celebrate and recognise them all. This sport is too bloody difficult and our PTO Professionals race too bloody hard to have any performance diminished by quibbling over distance discrepancies or arguments over currents. We will leave that to the pundits and fans to debate. The serious and well-meaning fan understands this, and it was perfectly captured in a comment on one of our posts.

Healthy debates are welcome. We would hope that they are engaged in the spirit of lifting our sport, and not to tear it down. The PTO welcomes criticism, as it is the crucible through which we can all make our sport better. 

Regarding the “Fastest Times” listed on the PTO World Rankings page, this page was simply added as an informational section, so those fans who love data can see historical comparisons and perhaps get an idea who might have been the fastest over the years in different disciplines and overall. It was never designed to have a “world record keeping” function. Our data expert at TriRating (www.trirating.com), Thorsten Radde, would make judgements to include or exclude certain races, so that the list might have meaningful comparisons, but it was never designed to pass judgement on “records.” For example, without any assessment, the five fastest swims of all time would all be at Cozumel, so it would not indicate to a fan who the fastest swimmers were over the years, but who made the trip the Mexico and surfed the current the best. The mechanics of the website is that all results are posted, and then the “Fastest Times” page automatically updates. Thorsten then investigates the races and scrubs different elements on the “Fastest Time” page to see if there may have been irregularities that he thinks would not be useful for people wanting to see interesting comparisons. This would normally take a few days after the original results are posted while various feedback from the race is digested, and data analysed. It is not a process where the PTO as an organisation opines on “world records.” It was designed for those interested and curious to see some “apple-to-apple” type of comparisons.    

Because the “Fastest Time” page is subject to misinterpretation and factors outside of our control and, as Kevin MacKinnon so accurately points outs, a listing of “world record” times is impossible to determine, we have eliminated the “Fastest Time” page from the PTO World Rankings website. 

What is in our control and what we will continue to list on the PTO World Rankings website is the “Highest Points” scored in races over the last ten years, as determined by the PTO World Rankings system. It can be found here protriathletes.org/highscores (spoiler alert, for the men, Jan Frodeno has the four Highest Scoring races of all-time, followed by two by Patrick Lange. For the women, no surprise, the top six Highest Scoring races belong to Chrissie Wellington and Daniela Ryf). We invite both our fans and triathlon media pundits including Kevin MacKinnon, Tim Hemming, Brad Culp, and others to enjoy the same debates that other sports have regarding the comparison of stars over different periods. Was Tiger Woods better than Jack Nicklaus? Lebron or Jordan? Serena Williams or Steffi Graf?  Our “Highest Scores” listings will provide much fodder and, we hope, spirted debate. 

With the fragmented nature of the racing calendar, the 2021 PTO World Rankings is the gold standard for identifying today’s best professional triathletes. However, we know but one way to determine the best triathlete in the world, and that is to have the top professionals race against each other more than once a year and for sizeable prize purses.  

WATCH THIS SPACE, as we expect that is exactly what will begin to happen in 2022. 

Contact:

Professional Triathletes Organisation
Jane Hansom
Head of Communications
[email protected]

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