Local Triathlete William Wren Wins Big at 2013 Ironman World Championship

The 65-year-old set a new course record in his age group.

“At the finish I raised my arms in triumph and shouted,” William Christopher Wren said when he heard he was first place in his age group at the 2013 Ironman World Championships. Wren, 65, also broke the course record for his age group and lives in Arlington. Photograph courtesy of FinisherPix.

It’s been more than a week since the Ironman World Championship in Kona, and William Christopher Wren’s calves are still sore.

“There were a couple of days where it was nearly impossible to walk down stairs,” the Arlington resident admits.

But with pain came serious gain for the 65-year-old. With a time of 10 hours, 44 minutes, and 31 seconds, Wren became this year’s Ironman World Champion in the 65 to 69 age group. He also set a new course record in his age group, besting the previous time by 34 minutes.

“I had pretty much a dream race,” says Wren. After the 2.4-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, he had a four-minute lead, despite getting “hit in the face a couple times.” During the 112-mile bike portion, Wren averaged almost two miles per hour faster than his personal record, even while riding on a new saddle that “wasn’t quite as comfortable as I had hoped.”

By the time he began the marathon leg of the triathlon, Wren had a 37-minute lead over the rest of his age group, and aimed for a 8:45-minute per mile pace. “At the top of the hill at Palani Drive I started to tire due to low nutrition,” Wren recalls. Still, with a quick stop to refuel, he cranked out sub-7-minute miles to the finish line, and heard the announcer say, “William Wren, you are Ironman and World Champion.”

“Yes, I was blessed with a dream day,” Wren says.

At an age when most folks are ready to retire and whose high school sports days are long behind them, how’d Wren do it? “Few, if any, people do this alone, and I am certainly no exception,” he says. This year Wren began working with Ken Mierke, a top Washingtonian triathlon coach and a two-time Ironman World Champion himself. Wren also trains with the local group TeamZ. 

And despite his age, this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of Wren. The government contractor, who trains for more than 20 hours a week, says next year he’ll return to Kona defend his title, and is already signed up for a local Ironman 70.3 next June. 

However, Wren says there is one thing he’ll be working on in the meantime: “While my wife is totally supportive of my efforts, she has expressed a desire to see more of me,” he says. “I’m working on this.”