For 14 years, the Ironman triathlon world record stood until Marino Vanhoenacker shattered it by more than four minutes to win his sixth consecutive Ironman Austria triathlon.
His feat in the grueling Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon, also earned the 35-year-old Belgium triathlete the United States Sports Academy’s 2011 Jim Thorpe All-Around Award.
“Nobody else represents athletic versatility and prowess like Jim Thorpe did in the early 20th century,” Vanhoenacker says. “I’m indescribably grateful and proud to be honored with this award.”
In July, Vanhoenacker’s world record time of 7 hours, 45 minutes and 58 seconds in the triathlon was 4 minutes and 29 seconds better than Luc Van Lierde’s time of 7:50.27 set in 1997 at the Ironman Europe race. Commerzbank athlete Vanhoenacker, who has won the Ironman Austria six times and nine races overall, was three minutes ahead of the record time when he started the marathon. He completed the marathon in 2:42:27.
He entered his first triathlon in 1997 and his first Ironman in 2001. His first Ironman victory came in Florida in 2005. Vanhoenacker has his sights on winning his first Ironman Hawaii. It is the mother of all triathlons and the Ironman World Championship. He had his best finish there in 2010 when he came in third place.
“To shatter the Ironman world record by more than four minutes is an incredible achievement,” says Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, the Academy’s president and CEO. “Like Jim Thorpe before him, Marino has proven he is a great athlete in a sport that tests the limits of human performance and he very much deserves this Academy award.”
Jan Wendt, Manager of the Commerzbank Triathlon Teams, adds: “Congratulations to Marino who is enlarging a famous list of Award winners like legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dan O’Brien and Tomas Dvorak. On behalf of the Commerzbank Triathlon Team, we want to say thank you to the United States Sports Academy. We feel honored to have a Jim Thorpe All-Around Award winner on our team.”
The Jim Thorpe All-Around Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in multiple sport and/or multiple events of the same sport. This individual should exhibit the qualities of versatility, strength, speed, flexibility, conditioning and training that exemplify superior athletic prowess. Jim Thorpe was an American Indian who became a legend for his athletic prowess at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm where he won both the pentathlon and decathlon events.