Britain’s double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee has qualified for the Ironman World Championships after winning his debut event, in Ireland.
The 31-year-old won in seven hours, 49 minutes and 20 seconds after the 2.4 mile swim was pulled for safety reasons and the race was changed to a duathlon.
The win earned Brownlee a spot at October’s Worlds in Kona, Hawaii.
“It was a tough, long day,” said Brownlee, who won silver at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
“I’d have preferred a swim to make my day easier. The course just drags on, especially in the second half of the bike.
“I set off on the run and thought I’m not sure I’m going to do it. I just set into a rhythm and tried to eat up some ground. Until the last 10km I was quite enjoying it, but the last 10km were not fun at all.”
The race in Cork saw athletes complete a 112-mile bike ride before running a full 26.2-mile marathon.
Ireland’s Bryan McCrystal, who had entered the transition from bike to run more than 15 minutes ahead of Brownlee, finished second, with Germany’s Markus Thomschke third.
Despite victory, Brownlee – who won triathlon gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 over the shorter Olympics distance – was keen to temper expectations ahead of his Ironman World Championships debut.
“That was one of the reasons I came here,” he said.
“I’ve hopefully got a few years in me and now I’ll be going to Kona this year for very much a bit of a learning experience and see how it goes.”