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Ironman South Africa 2018: Age Group Results and Kona Qualification

The second Ironman of the year was the African Championship – Ironman South Africa. As a championship race it came with 80 slots for age group athletes, but drew a field of under 2,000 competitors. For that reason I’ve always considered South Africa a potential good choice for qualification. This year’s race looks to have been slightly faster than average for the course, although it should be noted that route changes in recent years have lead to a faster course.

The usual note about the data: results have been retrieved from Ironman.com the day after the race, although they note instances of DNS, DNF and DQ they do not provide any split times for those athletes. Normally I’d have access to the data for some of these charts – it’s absence may make some elements of the race appear slightly faster.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman South Africa 2018 Compared with 2008-2017

This year’s distribution of finisher splits trends slightly faster than the 10 year aggregated data. As I mention in my introduction, there have been course changes that have seen times drop at the race so older results tend to pull back the aggregate splits. That said, the shift in overall finish times looks to be in the order of 15-20 minutes faster, so not insignificant. These changes appear to come primarily from performances on the run with a little help from the swim. The bike trends slightly faster, but very close to the historical chart.

DNS and DNF Rates at Ironman South Africa
Year
Listed Athletes
Swim Finish
Swim DNS/DNF
Bike Finish
Bike DNF
Run Finish
Run DNF
Overall DNS/DNF
2007
1572
1366
13.1%
1324
3.1%
1305
1.4%
17%
2008
1567
1432
8.6%
1420
0.8%
1403
1.2%
10.5%
2009
1520
1408
7.4%
1390
1.3%
1305
6.1%
14.2%
2010
1654
1614
2.4%
1590
1.5%
1548
2.6%
6.4%
2011
1733
1584
8.6%
1553
2%
1505
3.1%
13.2%
2012
1635
1580
3.4%
1429
9.6%
1384
3.1%
15.4%
2013
1784
1615
9.5%
1592
1.4%
1541
3.2%
13.6%
2014
2374
2084
12.2%
2012
3.5%
1883
6.4%
20.6%
2015
2032
1741
14.3%
1690
2.9%
1586
6.2%
21.9%
2016
1856
1664
10.3%
1638
1.6%
1566
4.4%
15.6%
2017
1898
1877
1.1%
1830
2.5%
1757
4%
7.4%
2018
1823
1710
1710
1710
6.2%

The lack of split data for those who DNFed in South Africa makes it impossible to give an accurate breakdown of where people dropped out. Of course I’m used to having mixed information on DNF and DNS numbers. At least here we can say the overall figures are correct and slightly lower than the similarly accurate previous year. Previous years mostly merge DNS and DNF numbers, making comparison difficult.

Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman South Africa 2018
Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman South Africa 2008-2017

As we’d expect the trends shown in the individual age group medians are similar to those in the distribution. The run is the element that most consistently comes in faster than the aggregate data, but we also see that swim and bike are a little faster too.

Top 10 Nationalities at Ironman South Africa
Country
Count
Percentage
South Africa
1364
66.8
United Kingdom
75
3.7
Germany
72
3.5
France
57
2.8
Chile
56
2.7
Brazil
39
1.9
Spain
36
1.8
Sweden
30
1.5
United States
26
1.3
Switzerland
24
1.2
Ironman South Africa 2018 Predicted Kona Qualifiers by Country
Country
Percentage of Slots
Percentage of Field
South Africa
22.5
66.8
Germany
10.0
3.5
Spain
6.3
1.8
France
6.3
2.8
Sweden
6.3
1.5
Belgium
5.0
0.7
Israel
5.0
0.7
Italy
5.0
1.0
Switzerland
5.0
1.2
United Kingdom
5.0
3.7
Denmark
3.8
0.8
Australia
3.8
0.6
Norway
3.8
0.4
Poland
2.5
0.4
Luxembourg
2.5
0.1
Russia
1.3
0.6
Brazil
1.3
1.9
United States
1.3
1.3
Chile
1.3
2.7
Netherlands
1.3
0.6
Greece
1.3
0.3

Ironman south Africa is a race that attracts a large field from overseas (perhaps partly thanks to the good slot to athlete ratio). Local athletes performed comparably to their numbers and the rest of the slots were distributed over the many other nationalities present.

Changes in Male Finishing Times by Position at Ironman South Africa
Changes in Female Finishing Times by Position at Ironman South Africa

It’s useful to track age group times in a little more detail over the last decade; it helps to highlight changes relating to the course. Knowing that recent years on a new bike course have tended to be faster we can see that this year’s results aren’t dissimilar to the last two. Last year looks to have been faster overall, but that does vary with age group and place.

Ironman South Africa 2018 Predicted Kona Qualification Times
Age Group
Slots
Winner
Average Kona Qualifier
Final Qualifier
M18-24
2
09:44:08
10:13:50
10:43:33
M25-29
5
09:06:09
09:24:04
09:40:11
M30-34
8
08:51:41
09:15:43
09:23:59
M35-39
10
08:42:16
09:22:25
09:32:58
M40-44
10
08:54:04
09:38:13
09:58:32
M45-49
9
09:25:49
09:41:45
10:00:09
M50-54
7
09:18:06
10:04:13
10:19:14
M55-59
4
10:09:02
10:20:04
10:29:02
M60-64
2
10:44:32
10:53:40
11:02:49
M65-69
1
11:24:20
11:24:20
11:24:20
M70-74
1
12:50:19
12:50:19
12:50:19
F18-24
1
12:08:42
12:08:42
12:08:42
F25-29
2
09:52:24
10:01:04
10:09:45
F30-34
3
10:00:27
10:19:32
10:31:27
F35-39
3
10:13:00
10:17:29
10:24:40
F40-44
3
10:19:17
10:39:38
10:50:44
F45-49
3
10:39:46
11:06:37
11:40:00
F50-54
2
10:33:30
10:50:09
11:06:48
F55-59
2
11:37:07
11:51:19
12:05:32
F60-64
1
16:23:26
16:23:26
16:23:26
F65-69
1
14:47:53
14:47:53
14:47:53

Based on the results data I’ve calculated the above distribution of slots as likely and from that what would be an automatic qualifying time. As always, although my calculations are based upon the approach used by Ironman, the final allocation may vary and roll down will influence the qualifying times too. You can compare this with other races on my Kona qualification page.

Top Twenty Male Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman South Africa 2018
Top Twenty Female Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman South Africa 2018

The final part of this analysis is a look at how athletes at the front of their age groups performed. The times of the top twenty in each with particular emphasis on those that might qualify. Firstly the trend this year was faster than the average and very similar to last year’s results. I think this highlights that for the front of pack the course is clearly faster and the average is brought down by the older races. Although the ratio of slots is good, qualifying is a challenge as outside of outlying age group winners times tend to be very tight among qualifiers.

You can access a spreadsheet of the results and splits from Ironman South Africa 2018 on my Google Drive.

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