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7 and 8 hour male and female IRONMAN barriers smashed in an astonishing display of athletic endurance.
Patent Attorney and keen “endurance eventer” Stuart Greenwood dives into the world of IRONMAN to report on the breaking of the latest seemingly unbreakable athletic barrier and the technology that helped make it possible.
On Sunday 5 June, 2022 at the iconic Dekra Lausitzring racetrack in Germany, high performance athletes replaced high performance cars as Britain’s Kat Matthews and Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt smashed the respective female 8hr and male 7hr IRONMAN barrier.
An IRONMAN is a three stage event. Simply swim 2.4 miles, hop on a bike to cycle 112 miles, then after all that (as if that isn’t enough) run a marathon (26.2 miles). Easy to write down – not so easy to complete, and, frankly, simply unfathomable to be able to do that in less time than an average night’s sleep. Reigning IRONMAN and Olympic champion Blummenfelt finished in a staggering 6 hours, 44 minutes, 25 seconds and Matthews, who clawed her way back after being passed in the final running leg, finished in a similar thigh-aching, jaw-dropping time of 7hrs 31 minutes and 54 seconds.
The athletes that even attempt this event have supreme levels of commitment and dedication, but there was also a considerable level of innovative technology behind them to push them beyond what was once thought impossible. In this 4 part mini-series of articles we look at that technology and the patents behind them…
PART 1 – the goggles
PART 2 – the swimsuit
PART 3 – the bike
PART 4 – the shoes
This may seem like an insignificant place to start, but the goggles used by Matthews and Blummenfelt incorporated the latest in “head up display” technology to relay performance metrics to the athletes in real time – keeping them on pace and constantly updated.
Canadian company FORM Athletica Inc. FORM Athletica Inc produce the goggles and the pending US patent application to them can be viewed here:
The goggles comprise standard parts such as two eye cups, a nose bridge and mounts for attaching the strap, but a HUD system (head up display) is mounted on the goggles. The HUD system comprises an optics module and one or more “light directing features” for redirecting the image toward an eye of a user. The optics module also has a gap between the one or more light directing features and the outer transparent surface of the goggle “to allow for total internal reflection of light from the display.” Performance data such as stroke rate, pace, time and distance can then be displayed in the vision of the user.
The goggles helped Matthews and Blummenfelt to keep exactly on their race plan. Crucial in such a long endurance event.
Next week, we look at the swimsuits used, and the marginal gains made there by using the latest innovative materials.
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