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Ironman Wales: Past Performances and Kona Qualification

The second qualifier for the 2014 Ironman World Championships falls much closer to home with this weekend’s Ironman Wales taking place in Tenby. Wales is a tough course with plenty of hills and the potential, as in 2011, for rough conditions to take a further toll on finish times. This is only the third year for the event and with variations in the course in the previous years past results may not give a strong indication of what’s to come. There are fifty Kona slots on offer in Tenby and competition will likely be tough.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman Wales 2011 - 2012

It’s clear from the distribution of splits over the last 2 years that the bike in Wales is particularly slow. The route is undulating with some steep sections to really sap the legs. Swim and run times however distribute a little quicker than we might expect. It is worth noting that in 2012 the swim may have been short or current assisted and the run was notably short. It’s also worth noting that the unusually long T1 is another factor in slower overall times.

Median Splits by Age Division at Ironman Wales 2011 - 2012
Median Splits for All 2012 European Ironman Races

Medians reflect the distributions – relatively quick swim times, slow bike times and slightly faster run times for an Ironman. I’ve included the European 2012 Averages for comparison. You can also see the significance of T1 in the chart with the larger purple transition bar. From a race perspective the bike is the key factor in slower times, particularly when conditions are bad, but a full marathon would also see run times drop to slightly below average.

Predicted Kona Slot Allocation for Ironman Wales 2013
  Number of Athletes Number of Slots
F18-24 8 1
F25-29 19 1
F30-34 37 2
F35-39 33 2
F40-44 25 1
F45-49 17 1
F50-54 12 1
F55-59 5 1
F60-64 3 1
M18-24 63 2
M25-29 166 4
M30-34 287 6
M35-39 291 7
M40-44 295 7
M45-49 212 5
M50-54 104 3
M55-59 33 2
M60-64 9 1
M65-69 4 1
M70-74 3 1
Total 1626 50

Based on the start lists available on the Ironman Wales website my predictions for Kona slot allocations are above. As ever actual numbers will vary and be dependent on how many athletes start the race within each age group. Ironman Wales has also published lists of the Kona qualifiers which means I can look at qualification and roll down more closely for the two years of racing.

Kona Slot Allocations and Roll Down at Ironman Wales 2011
Division Allocated Slots Rolldown Count Fastest Qualifier Slowest Qualifier Average Qualifiying Time
F18-24 1 12:58:00 12:58:00 12:58:00
F25-29 1 11:38:18 11:38:18 11:38:18
F30-34 2 10:40:58 11:09:00 10:54:59
F35-39 2 1 10:43:11 11:55:25 11:19:18
F40-44 2 4 11:28:31 12:04:28 11:46:29
F45-49 3 10:15:23 12:23:49 11:35:42
F50-54 2 2 13:50:28 14:05:09 13:57:48
F55-59 1 13:16:06 13:16:06 13:16:06
M18-24 2 10:08:19 10:24:14 10:16:16
M25-29 3 1 09:53:38 10:13:52 10:02:26
M30-34 6 09:28:57 09:59:28 09:46:07
M35-39 7 09:16:23 10:15:17 09:54:19
M40-44 6 1 09:47:07 10:27:54 10:16:38
M45-49 5 1 10:44:14 10:50:06 10:46:16
M50-54 3 10:51:44 10:59:11 10:54:27
M55-59 2 1 11:19:23 12:22:55 11:51:09
M60-64 1 12:05:07 12:05:07 12:05:07
M65-69 1 13:21:35 13:21:35 13:21:35
Kona Slot Allocations and Roll Down at Ironman Wales 2012
Division Allocated Slots Rolldown Count Fastest Qualifier Slowest Qualifier Average Qualifiying Time
F18-24 1 11:41:21 11:41:21 11:41:21
F25-29 1 11:07:55 11:07:55 11:07:55
F30-34 2 10:54:12 11:06:30 11:00:21
F35-39 2 11:05:06 11:23:08 11:14:07
F40-44 2 10:20:10 11:49:31 11:04:50
F45-49 1 11:04:32 11:04:32 11:04:32
F50-54 1 12:10:09 12:10:09 12:10:09
F55-59 1 15:20:00 15:20:00 15:20:00
F60-64 1 14:09:05 14:09:05 14:09:05
M18-24 2 09:46:01 10:08:44 09:57:22
M25-29 4 1 09:23:36 09:40:43 09:34:58
M30-34 7 1 09:26:21 09:48:11 09:40:52
M35-39 6 09:28:43 09:52:19 09:46:19
M40-44 7 09:18:45 09:49:46 09:40:07
M45-49 5 09:40:17 10:02:04 09:54:21
M50-54 3 09:31:14 10:24:38 10:05:40
M55-59 2 10:33:03 11:29:28 11:01:15
M60-64 1 11:59:59 11:59:59 11:59:59
M65-69 1 1 16:18:01 16:18:01 16:18:01

Roll down at Wales is quite rare (with the F40-44 year olds in 2011 being an exception). As I mentioned with Ironman Japan yesterday early season qualifiers give an athlete a lot of time to prepare (and save) for the main event in Kona. Uptake and competition can be a lot higher as a consequence. Many may have come here deliberately chasing that early qualification.

The Top 20 Male Age Groupers and Kona Qualification at Ironman Wales
The Top 20 Female Age Groupers and Kona Qualification at Ironman Wales

If they have it is worth noting that while qualification times are not particularly fast compared to other European races Wales is tough and competition is stiff. Allowing for a few exceptional age group winners there is little to separate first to tenth place in the men’s field. A sub-10 on a tough course will be needed in many of the male age groups. The women’s field is much smaller and consequently there is a faster drop off in finish times in the top twenties. Qualification requirements are still high with age group winning times – a necessity for qualification – still challenging.

Unfortunately I won’t be spectating this year. Ironman Wales falls on the weekend between moving house and getting married – I simply don’t have the time (or money!) to take a trip to Tenby. I do have a number of athletes racing though, so I’ll follow closely online and do a full break down and analysis at the start of next week.

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A growing collection of results and statistics for the whole Ironman race calendar.

Find out what it takes to place in your age group or to qualify for the Ironman Worlds Championships in Kona.

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