Ironman Wales 2014: Results and Analysis

Any idea I had that Ironman Wales might see fast racing in favourable conditions was proved wrong on Sunday. As pleasant as the weather was where I was staying on the Cornish coast, it doesn’t appear to have translated to fast performances over in Tenby. This year’s race was clearly slower; finish times taking a significant knock from the front to the back of the field.

Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Wales 2014
Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Wales 2011-2013

Let’s start with the medians as usual. On the bike there isn’t much to note, times vary, but without a significant trend. The swim and run on the other hand saw a massive drop off in time this year with the swim average dropping by 15 minutes and the run by 20. The impact at the front of the field was only slightly smaller.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman Wales 2014 Compared to 2011-2013

Comparing the split distributions probably makes the shift a little clearer. The impact on swim and run times at this year’s race is massive as is its knock on to the finishing distribution. Interestingly, a quick check suggests that while the race proved much slower there wasn’t a major change to the DNF rate in Wales. It was tough, but athletes got through.

Top Twenty Male Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman Wales 2014
Top Twenty Female Performances and Kona Qualification at Ironman Wales 2014

Times were generally slower from the front to the back of the field, but it’s particularly obvious at the front of the male age groups. In some cases this year was the slowest so far. The trend and drop off in finish times over the top twenty wasn’t too disimilar to previous events just slower. In the women’s race this year’s times actually came up much closer to average – F30-34 being the only exception there – while the group averages were affected, the very front of pack performed on par.

Having been away for the weekend I’ve not had chance to fully review my athletes’ reports from Ironman Wales. Hopefully I’ll build a better picture as to what made the event so much slower this time round. Feedback and comments on this are welcomed below.

You can access a spreadsheet of the results and all splits for Ironman Wales 2014 on my Google Drive.

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  • CT

    Have to agree with that. Rough swim – wind from the East combined with tide direction led to what mariner’s call a ‘rogue’ sea. It was fairly choppy, but in an unpredictable random way. Hard to breathe, and find rhythm. We probably all swallowed loads of seawater: some threw up, others deliberately made themselves sick to get rid. Swim time obviously impacted, but also taking nutrition on the bike leading to issues on the run.

    Wind was lighter and it was dry compared to other IM Wales, but the quicker bike I expected did not materialise. Probably due to impact of the swim, but I felt the wind, although lighter was unfavourable. Course tracks East on higher exposed ground, West tends to be on the lower coastal parts.

  • JohnG

    Being a local, I can say from my experience on the bike. It doesn’t really matter what the weather is. The course is so up and down the weather doesn’t play too much into things. My ride on the IM only bettered my wet ride on the Long Course Weekend by 2 minutes. I was kind of hoping not having to stop at junctions and it being dry would have helped. But it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. The sea conditions certainly added to the swim. 2 of my friends and myself all dropped between 10-20 minutes on what we’d expect on the same swim in the flat. Trying to spot, swim around lost breast strokers kicking out at you… it all added up.
    All said though fantastic race and I’d recommend anyone thinking about it to just do it.

  • cp

    I have to agree with it being a slow day, I got out of the water 15 – 20 mins behind my expected swim time (in ideal conditions), sighting was a real issue due to waves in no apparent rhythm, swallowed plenty of sea water too which meant adjustments to bike nutrition and roll on effect on run (which was much slower than when I am on form)… In fact I think I was about an hour to an hour and a half slower on the day than expected. That said it was a fantastic event with amazing support fron the locals although I’m glad to see it wasn’t just my time that suffered

  • NS

    Swim times only partly explained by the waves – other key factor was the unusual tide timing: several hours before high tide. North Beach is in a semi-circular bay where the incoming tide sweeps round in an anti-clockwise direction, so, as the race was run clockwise, the tide was against the swim on 2 legs out of 3. The reverse is true on the ebb tide – which explains the very fast times at this year’s long course week-end.

  • nigel

    Taken part in previous three Ironman Wales,live locally first lap of swim this year about same time as last year, started towards front pace dictated by tightly packed field taken along in draft to first mark, tide against seemed to be cancelled out by draft effect with so many people in the water, with the tide leg towards lifeboat slip good pace, field started to spread out, started to feel choppy sea on leg back to beach. second lap much slower for me field had spread out full effect of rough water impacting on pace. swallowed a lot of water! ended up only three minutes slower than last year. felt ill on bike leg for first 50 miles could not take gels. settled into reasonable pace for remainder of bike 5mins slower than last year. paid price of increased effort in swim and poor nutrition on bike during run, faded badly towards end of run. 20 mins slower overall compared to last year.