Double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee won IRONMAN Ireland and earned a spot at the Ironman World Championships. (Getty)

Double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee has qualified for the Ironman World Championships after winning his debut race at IRONMAN Ireland.

However, the swim was cancelled making the event a duathlon as air and water temperatures were too low to start the swim portion.

The 31-year-old Brit finished the 180km bike and 42km run race in 7 hours, 49 minutes and 20 seconds, more than 5 minutes of his closest rival. By winning this race, Brownlee has earned himself a spot at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October.

“It was a tough, long day. I’d have preferred a swim to make my day easier. The course just drags on, especially in the second half of the bike,” said Brownlee, who won silver at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

After the transition from bike to run, homeland favourite – Ireland’s Bryan McCrystal, was more than 15 minutes ahead of Brownlee, but finished second with Germany’s Markus Thomschke completing the podium.

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.

In the women’s race, Switzerland’s Emma Bilham won in 8:50:18 by a wide margin over Pleuni Hooijman (NED).

Source: BBC and Ironman.com