Ironman Los Cabos 2013: Results, Splits and Analysis

The new Ironman season had its first new race on Sunday with the inaugural Ironman Los Cabos. So this morning – a little too soon as it happened – I began the process of retrieving results, cleaning data and importing into the Ironman database for examination. I’ve uploaded the Ironman Los Cabos 2013 Full Results and Splits in a more user friendly spreadsheet format to my google drive and, as usual, followed that with a selection of charts to help place the race in context. Without experience of the region or historical data to work with that’s always tricky, so feedback from the venue is always welcome.

Ironman Los Cabos 2013: Distribution of Finisher Splits

My starting point is the finisher distribution chart above that gives a small indication of race day conditions and quality of the field. In comparison with some of these charts from 2012, Los Cabos does not lie at the fast end of the Ironman spectrum, professional times and the broad spread of overall splits with their mild right skew support this. The distributions themselves seem typical of American Ironman races, just shifted a little further right than we might expect; each discipline a little slower suggesting conditions were a contributory factor.

Ironman Los Cabos 2013: Median Splits by Division

Looking at the median split times of individual age groups brings the focus more towards the bike. The bike is consistently slower than the Ironman averages of 2012, while the swim is marginally faster and the run varies in its deviation. I’m hesitant to draw strong conclusions from such a broad picture, but whatever the causes Los Cabos seems to be a slower than average race.

Ironman Los Cabos Compared to 2012 Ironman Events: Average Finishing Times by Male Division Finishing Place

Ironman Los Cabos Compared to 2012 Ironman Events: Average Finishing Times by Female Division Finishing Place

The final area I’ll look at today is the front of the pack, the top 20 in each age group, and to make the data more useful I’ve compared this years finishing times for age group placings with the averages for all Ironman races in 2012. Again the pattern, at least among the men, places Los Cabos somewhere between the average and the slowest times for a given placing. As is often the case in the smaller female field the picture is less clear, trending closer to the averages of 2012.

Entering a new race comes with an element of the unknown and so does the analysis of new data. It’s hard to place a race in context when there is no history to examine. Finish times at Los Cabos seem slightly slower than most American races, but not hugely so. With a typical allocation of Kona slots the competition for a place at the World Championship was likely as stiff as ever, front of pack athletes varying less from course to course.

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  • Jerry farmer

    What was the average finishing time and where does it rank and what is the normal percentage of people who don’t complete a race and where does Los cabos compare I heard 41% didn’t complete it is that true

  • Hi Jerry,

    The average times (pro and age groupers) were:

    • Swim: 1:22
    • Bike: 6:43
    • Run: 4:56
    • Overall: 13:06

    For comparison the overall average of all Ironman races in 2012 was:

    • Swim: 1:19
    • Bike: 6:21
    • Run: 4:26
    • Overall: 12:42

    So finish times were slower than what we see if we average all the Ironmans. This is quite a broad way to look at things though and in many respects it’s better to look at the finisher distributions in comparison, but either way Los Cabos was not a quick Ironman. To rank the races before I’ve used the times of athletes who’ve raced in multiple events to compare race results and try to rank in order of difficulty – I’ll need a bit more 2013 data to do this well for the year, but could attempt in comparison with 2012 results if there’s enough cross over.

    Another comparison St George numbers look like this:

    • Swim: 1:13
    • Bike: 6:42
    • Run: 4:56
    • Overall: 13:51

    Individual split averages are quite comparable, but across the entire field the race was slightly slower.

    DNF rate is hard to pin down because there is no way to distinguish DNS from DNF in the results – if they don’t have a swim time they either DNS or they pulled out in the swim. Of the number of athlete listed on the Athlete Tracker 35% did not finish, but this includes DNS as 25% of that field have no swim time. Estimating the DNS and assuming that it is higher than the DNF rate in the swim will bring the percentage of DNFs (from the adjusted start numbers) down rather than raising it. So 41% seems unlikely to have been the actual DNF rate.

    Hope that helps, clearly it was a tough rate, I’ll be better able to place it in the season as the year goes on.



  • I should have said, I don’t have the normal DNF average to hand, but even adjusting for DNS puts Los Cabos towards the higher end of the range, only a few have that high a percent with DNS.


  • So, to round out the general numbers the average combined DNF/DNS percentage for races in 2012 was 18%, with the biggest outlier being Ironman St. George at 43%. Most sit in the 10-20% range though. So Los Cabos had a higher than normal drop out rate whether DNS or DNF.

    For interest I’ll also add that I can say that 75 dropped out on the bike and a further 67 dropped out during the run. There are 326 athletes who did not record a swim, but this includes those who did not start to and I can’t get accurate figures for that. That gives us a 5.6% drop out rate during the bike, versus a 2.9% drop out rate average for the bike over all of 2012 races. For the run portion that gives a 5% drop out rate in Los Cabos, compared to the 2012 average of 3.9%.

    I do plan to publish more on the DNF rates of races at some point as I have started looking at that data too. Also seems it might be worth publishing DNF stats for future race analyses.



  • Tim Bishop

    To give you some feedback from the race itself to bear in mind with your stats, it was definitely a tough race. For me, the factors in that were: long swim (I had 4.2k on Garmin when I exited – even allowing for Garmin errors, it was definitely on the long side); the bike was very windy, with a stiff headwind on several sections combining with some long uphill drags to make it a more stressful ride than “normal”. I also measured 2400m of ascent on the bike. Again, even allowing for inaccuracies (Garmin 910), that is at the hillier end of the ironman spectrum. There wasn’t anything steep but there was a lot of grinding; Run – it was hot! Yes, I know it’s Mexico, but even the Mexicans were complaining about the unusual heat and it seemed to be more humid than in the previous few days. I wasn’t at “Kona” fitness last week, but I reckon a really good time for me if I had been would have been around 9:45/50, which is comparable to my best time in Lanzarote. I suspect in future years there will be faster conditions and without the wind the bike course could be fairly quick despite the elevation gain.

  • The distribution method itself, beyond just 1 slot per age group tends to spread the distribution more than a truly proportional approach. I cam up with one method that does 1 per age group and gets very close to the actual proportions each age group has especially when more slots are available. What Ironman seems to do will put more slots in larger female age groups than a truly proportional system. Certainly knocks a few extra slots from elsewhere I have done some comparisons of percentage of athletes in each age group and percentage of slots and you see the differences.

    Thanks for the info on Los Cabos, most of the stats get done before I see proper reports so hard to pick up how hard a race is going to be. What I’ve read afterwards certainly suggested it was tougher than expected. Sounds like it has a lot in common with Lanzarote then, and potentially ranks similarly among the Ironman races, will hopefully be able to look at that more closely once a few more races are done. A long swim makes a change though.

    Funnily the one guy ahead of you in your age group was on the end-to-end of New Zealand Epic Camp with me a few years back.


  • Jordan Blanco

    Blanco’s Garmin had the swim measured at 2.63 miles, so pretty consistent with Tim’s Garmin reading of 4.2mi.

  • Larry Thompson

    The results on IM Cabo’s website now include all starters, DNFs, DNSs, finishers and DQ’d. My rough calculations indicate that DNFs+DQ’d = 15% of actual starters. That ranks second behind St. George for DNFs (using DNF data from 2011). According to the data that I saw for St. George, they had a 16.5% DNF rate in 2011. FYI, if you go to IM Cabo’s site / results page, enter A in the name and I think that brings up the whole list. At least that is what I did.

  • Larry,

    Thanks for pointing me to that, I’ll integrate that data into my database to see how it compares. I get my data from the Athlete Tracker as it means I need only a single tool to retrieve it, unfortunately doesn’t carry anywhere near as much info as it could. So a lot of that precise DNS vs DNF data is lost, as is the DQs. Be good to throw that in and get a better feel for the rates these occur at. I generally assume the majority of athletes in the tracker with no swim time are DNS and a relatively small proportion are DNFs, but that can vary with the race conditions of course.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing me to that, will be useful as I try and look more closely at DNF statistics, I’ll have to look at a few more Ironman sites to see if they list results independently like that too. Now if only they routinely put Hawaii qualifiers on the websites…


  • Jerry farmer

    We may want to double check your times on how they added up I had Los cabos at 13:01 , avg time 2012 at 12:06 and st George at 12:51, according to the times you gave

  • Jerry,

    I’ve averaged all the swim, bike, run and overall splits recorded. Swim + Bike + Run won’t quite add up to the overall average because the overall also includes transition times and because there will be some who DNFed and hence don’t add to the overall average, but they are included in the swim and bike averages if they recorded a time.

    So those times are correct, but it should be noted that overall includes transitions too and that athletes who DNFed are included in swim and bike splits where appropriate.

    I’ve also downloaded the DNF data Larry pointed me to and can confirm that the DNF rate at Los Cabos was 14.9%. The DNS rate was around 14% too. For most races I can only estimate the DNF/DNS rate from those who didn’t finish so hard to accurately place these figures, but they are towards the higher end I believe.


  • Jerry farmer

    Thanks for comments and taking time to do everything , you have great info