Ironman Lanzarote 2013: Full Results and Analysis

I spent Saturday glued to the athlete tracker nervously following three of my athletes racing at Ironman Lanzarote. Not that I doubted their training – all three had worked hard over the last 6 months – but Lanzarote is a punishing race that offers little room for error. I found myself frequently refreshing the page in the hope of further progress; each small update offering me a limited insight into their days. It looked tough, but now the race is over I can use the results to examine how tough.

Ironman Lanzarote 2013: Distribution of Finisher Splits
Typical Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman Lanzarote

This year’s distribution of split times (above) appear to fall safely within Lanzarote parameters. The swim appears fractionally slower than the norm, but the bike has a more noticeable shift, the consequence of winds forecast at 20mph. So we see a rightward trend to the distribution as generally athletes were out on the bike course for longer. Despite an apparently tougher bike the run is remarkably unaffected showing little movement from its usual pattern. It seems 2013 was a marginally slower race than usual, but less significantly than I’d imagined.

Ironman Lanzarote 2013: Median Splits by Division
Average Age Group Splits at Ironman Lanzarote

As ever looking at the divisions gives us a different viewpoint on the race. Comparing this year’s median splits with those of previous years tells a mixed story reflecting annual fluctuations in the athletic make up of each division. There is further support here for a slower swim as most age groups recorded a higher average time. On the bike though there is a division – men showing a pattern of slower bike averages, while among the women the younger age groups were often faster. The run however is almost universally faster in 2013 which largely balances out the overall times. It’s interesting that a slower – perhaps tougher – bike doesn’t appear to result in a slower run.

My prediction of Kona slots, made on the basis of the bib number list proved slightly inaccurate once the provisional allocation was uploaded – there is still work to be done refining the algorithm.

Predicted and Provisional Kona slot Allocation at Ironman Lanzarote
  Predicted Allocation Provisional Allocation
F18-24 1 1
F25-29 1 1
F30-34 1 1
F35-39 1 1
F40-44 1 1
F45-49 1 1
F50-54 1 1
F55-59 1 1
F60-64 1 1
F70-74 1 1
M18-24 1 1
M25-29 2 1
M30-34 4 4
M35-39 5 6
M40-44 5 6
M45-49 4 4
M50-54 3 3
M55-59 2 1
M60-64 1 1
M65-69 1 1
M70-74 1 1
M75-79 1 1
Total 40 40

Neither distribution offers many slots and competition in Lanzarote is remarkably steep with a large gap between first and twentieth in most age groups.

Top 20 Male Age Group Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman Lanzarote 2013
Top 20 Female Age Group Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman Lanzarote 2013

Again these charts present a mixed picture of the race – the women’s times imply that this year was potentially faster than usual as do the older men. It’s almost as if the younger age groups suffer more in tough conditions. The fastest age groupers, the Kona qualifiers, rarely diverge from the average qualifying times; conditions appear less important in how races play out at the front. I am tempted to delve further and examine the relationship of swim, bike and run that make up the fastest performances.

So maybe Ironman Lanzarote was a little tougher than usual, at least on the swim and bike. Yet, as often seems to be the case, the impact was felt less at the front of the field – it’s the middle of the pack athletes that appear most affected.

My athletes worked hard. By the time I headed out for the evening they were done. Two delivered solid sub-11 hour performances while the third managed to set a new course PB despite having a much tougher time. All three should be pleased with what they achieved – they stack up well against their division averages. As usual I’ve put a spreadsheet version of results and splits for the 2013 Ironman Lanzarote on Google Drive. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Ironman Texas.

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  • Hey Russ, This is great work. Really nice analysis. I’ve not been to your site much in the past so this was interesting to read. Keep up the good work.

  • Andy Bryant

    Interesting to read this, having just come 25th M50-54 (11:45) in the 2014 race in, perhaps, slightly less windy conditions than 2013. Maybe when windy conditions make the bike leg slower on average, it could also help the run if it’s cooler for that leg. It’s complicated though, as the wind can be very different up north compared to Carmen; also this year the wind increased late afternoon in Carmen and would be felt more by those still running at 7pm.

  • Hi Andy,

    Hopefully you’ve also seen the more recent 2014 analysis here:

    I’d agree that conditions are more complex than simply windy or hot in terms of how they affect a race and as you say, what windy means can vary over the island. In Lanza the perfect setup would be light winds in the morning, with a northerly picking up later in the day as you come off Mirador del Rio. Timing is also another factor – faster athletes may be more fortunate with conditions earlier in the day. This too may explain why faster athletes may be less impacted by the weather on the day.

    In cases of extreme conditions the impact can be obvious in the results, but with more subtle shifts as in 2014 vs 2013 it’s impossible to be so certain as equally it can be variations in the field of athletes. The women’s 35-39 age group in this years (2014) race is a good example where they consistently outperformed previous years – in this case it seems faster athletes in that age group turned up on a decent Lanzarote day. Through all my analysis work I always know I’m greatly simplifying a far more complex problem.