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Ironman South Africa: Past Performances and Kona Qualification

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Ironman South Africa, is next on the Ironman calendar. Results in Port Elizabeth have been heavily influenced by variable conditions over the years – 2012 was particularly tough, while 2013 was much kinder on competitors. With an updated bike course it’s impossible to predict the kind of race 2014 will be. Not that that stops me looking at past results.

There’s also something new: age group specific race statistics with detailed information on past results for those looking to Kona qualify. You’ll find links to the relevant PDF documents later in this post. They are by no means the finished product, but hopefully contain some useful data for those racing at the weekend. Feedback is welcome.

Distribution of Finishers' Splits at Ironman South Africa 2007-2013
Distribution of Finishers' Splits at 2013 European Ironman Races

As the broad distributions of splits in the chart above suggest Ironman South Africa is not the quickest event on the calendar. Some of this spread of splits comes from the outlying 2012 results adding weight at the slower end of the field, but even allowing for this South Africa has never been as fast a race as a typical European Ironman. Compared to the second chart, a summary of all 2013 European Ironman results, times are slower, most notably on the run.

There are more detailed split distribution by race year and age group in the PDFs linked below.

Median Splits by Category at Ironman South Africa 2007-2013
Median Splits by Category at 2013 European Ironman Races

We see the same pattern when comparing the median splits from South Africa and European races. In the age group field times are generally slower and the biggest difference is in the run, but it should be noted that this isn’t reflected in the average pro results – splits are very similar. Bearing in mind the limitations of amalgamating many races into these individual charts this might point towards a weaker depth of field in South Africa.

Again, there is a more detailed breakdown of median times by race year and age group in the PDFs linked below.

Age Group Kona Slot Allocation and Race Statistics for Ironman South Africa 2014
  Number of Athletes Number of Slots Detailed Statistics
F18-24 9 1 View Stats (PDF)
F25-29 46 2 View Stats (PDF)
F30-34 94 2 View Stats (PDF)
F35-39 81 2 View Stats (PDF)
F40-44 72 2 View Stats (PDF)
F45-49 57 2 View Stats (PDF)
F50-54 36 1 View Stats (PDF)
F55-59 11 1 View Stats (PDF)
F60-64 3 1  
M18-24 25 1 View Stats (PDF)
M25-29 173 3 View Stats (PDF)
M30-34 352 6 View Stats (PDF)
M35-39 362 6 View Stats (PDF)
M40-44 470 7 View Stats (PDF)
M45-49 268 5 View Stats (PDF)
M50-54 167 3 View Stats (PDF)
M55-59 76 2 View Stats (PDF)
M60-64 23 1  
M65-69 4 1  
M70-74 4 1  
Total 2333 50  

As well as the usual estimation of Kona slots taken from the 2014 athlete list on the Ironman South Africa website the table above also includes those links to age group specific stats breakdowns that expand on the information in this post. Check out the relevant age group and if it’s useful let me know – they took a lot of work to produce!

Top 20 Male Age Group Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman South Africa
Top 20 Female Age Group Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman South Africa

The top twenties above highlight how variable results at Ironman South Africa have been – first place times showing a spread of an hour or more in some age groups. With the change in bike course it’s hard to say whether the averages would be a fair estimate. If last year’s results are an indication of the direction the race is taking then we’ll be looking for times in the low 9 hours for qualification for the major male age groups. As always all any aspiring qualifier can do is focus on the process and delivering their best performance on race day.

With a few of my athletes scheduled to race I’ll be following South Africa closely this weekend. Next week should see the usual post-race results analysis and hopefully a look at some athlete data from the race.

All Ironman Results and Statistics

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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