Photos: @babbittville and @cochranesimon

By Kent Gray/
Simon Cochrane’s short reign as the most under-the-radar athlete in New Zealand – perhaps even across all of endurance sports – is officially over after the Waikato long distance junkie outdid himself at the Ultraman World Championships.

The 39-year-old Hamiltonian has wowed triathlon fans everywhere by making the world title his third Iron distanced doubled victory inside seven astonishing months. Not only that, Cochrane became the King of the sufferfest world in record smashing – and now trademark – fashion on Hawaii’s Big Island, completing the combined 515km event in an astonishing 20:57:46.

That eclipsed the previous record by 43 mins 36 secs.

The world title caps a remarkable rise for Cochrane who remarkably set the fastest ever Ultraman time of 19:48:47 en route to capturing Ultraman Australia on debut at Noosa in May. He then backed that up by slashing 1hr 35mins off the Penticton course record as he claimed victory at Ultraman Canada in early August. Before Noosa, few outside of the Kiwi triathlon and long distance running communities knew of Cochrane. That anonymity is now lost.

Cochrane’s splits in Hawaii are a thing of marvel.  He knocked out the opening day 10km swim in 2:38:38 despite less than ideal conditions, before ticking off a 145km bike in 4:36:44. Day two saw the flying Kiwi conquer a further 276km on the bike in 7:32:27 despite a time-sapping puncture and a crash that saw him land heavily on a hip, before he completed the 84.4km double marathon in 6:09:47. The final, gruelling, day included unofficial reports of a “casual” 3hr 05min split for the last 42.2km – a time many marathoners would happily take fresh, much less with 472.8km already on the clock.  

“Yeah, nah, amazing,” Cochrane told Bob Babbitt when the voice of long distance triathlon asked the champ if he was “happy” with his overall effort after earmarking the race record beforehand.

“We got under 21 [hours overall]. At the marathon mark today I thought I’d be happy to get under 22…”

Did any doubt about the record creep in at all on the final day?

“Today the quads were gone at 30ks so the last 55km was run in the top two inches,” Cochrane said pointing to his brain. “The legs were done, so yeah. The hip was the least of the worries.”

Canadian Amy Robitaille produced the second fastest time in Hawaii of 25:55:15 to win the women’s title from Andree-Anne Girard who was third overall in 27:16:18. The second man home in fourth overall was Fernando Lopez in 27:24:29.

“Family was the key today with the support crew out there but not only that, the training build-up, the last year has been super busy so family steps up and helps a lot and very supportive so definitely couldn’t do it without then,” Cochrane said.

“The kids are always out and about and this is probably one of the only races they haven’t come over for so back home to see them in a couple of days.”

Talking of the future, what’s next Simon?

“Yeah, I’m probably done with Ultraman for a little bit until…we’ll see. Lots of other cool races out there I’d like to do as well.”

Norway’s ‘Xtreme Norseman’, considered the most hard core triathlon in the world, perhaps?

“Yeah, yeah and maybe Badwater [the a 217km Ultramarathon in California’s ‘Death Valley’] and some of the extreme Ultra runs I think. Yeah, that [Badwater] will be on the bucket list.”

Anything this year? Surely not after three Ultramans inside seven months?

“Yeah, we’ll see, we’ll give it a few days,” Cochrane said with a laugh. “Right now it is done but yeah, we’ll see.”

This was mission accomplished and signed off with another very Kiwi preface to an answer about smashing the World Ultraman mark so emphatically.

“Yeah, nah, we came here and I wanted to do a solid race and leave it to someone else to come and try and beat it.”

Good luck with that.

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