Ironman Frankfurt 2015: Results and Analysis

Course records may have been set, but for the majority of the field at the European Ironman Championship this was a particularly tough and slow year of racing. As results analysis goes this one is going to be easy: all three disciplines were impacted by heat and clearly slower than normal. Nothing slows a race like hot conditions, all the more so if they’re sufficient to result in a wetsuit ban. Finish times are one thing, but the DNF rate at this year’s race was double the usual Frankfurt levels.

Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Frankfurt 2015
Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Frankfurt 2003-2014

This is perhaps the clearest pair of median charts I’ve ever posted. A non-wetsuit swim stands out as much slower when compared with the previous 10 years of racing (there have been other non-wetsuit swims in the last 10 years, but their results are diluted in the group). Heat makes some difference on the bike, but it’s on the run where performance is really affected. So median times across all three disciplines are slower than the current Frankfurt medians for almost all age groups.

Race Year Entry Count Swim Count Bike Count Run Count Swim DNS/DNF Bike DNF Run DNF Overall DNS/DNF
2003 1697 1482 1470 1291 12.7 0.8 12.2 23.9
2005 1908 1827 1790 1730 4.2 2.0 3.4 9.3
2006 2165 1996 1958 1799 7.8 1.9 8.1 16.9
2007 2284 2241 2218 2121 1.9 1.0 4.4 7.1
2008 2265 2220 2202 2142 2.0 0.8 2.7 5.4
2009 2593 2292 2256 2128 11.6 1.6 5.7 17.9
2010 2434 2322 2274 2119 4.6 2.1 6.8 12.9
2011 2750 2441 2368 2220 11.2 3.0 6.3 19.3
2012 2885 2553 2461 2317 11.5 3.6 5.9 19.7
2013 3015 2698 2633 2460 10.5 2.4 6.6 18.4
2014 3015 2647 2592 2388 12.2 2.1 7.9 20.8
2015 3064 2552 2405 2006 16.7 5.8 16.6 34.5

Most of my stats only take into account those who finish the course, but given the conditions and high rate of attrition I thought I’d take a closer look at DNFs. Whenever I look at these statistics I have to note that the way Ironman presents live results makes it impossible for me to distinguish those who did not start from those who did not finish the swim. In the table above I note where a figure likely combines both DNS and DNF numbers. This small confusion aside it’s obvious that the DNF rate at this years race was far more than Frankfurt typically sees. You can see how this DNF rate compares with a few other Ironman events here. When Ironman publishes a finalised list of results, precise DNF and DNS rates may be available.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman Frankfurt 2015 Compared with 2003-2014

No surprises, the 2015 distributions are also slower. It’s perhaps worth noting here how the top 5% of the field is less affected on the bike, but almost everyone is on the swim and the run. Performance wasn’t completely inhibited, but that course records were set in such conditions is exceptional. Age Groupers did not fair so well with the heat and even at the front of the amateur race times are affected.

Changes in Male Age Group Finishing Times by Place at Ironman Frankfurt
Changes in Female Age Group Finishing Times by Place at Ironman Frankfurt

Checking the history of finish times for specific positions across a range of age groups shows how this year’s race sees a particularly notable fall off. How much does vary with age group and position, but overall it looks like this might be the slowest age group race in Frankfurt over the last 10 years. At least from the male perspective, the female age groups appear to have been less heavily hit.

Top Twenty Male Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman Frankfurt 2015
Top Twenty Female Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman Frankfurt 2015

The overall consistency of female performance at this year’s race is more obvious looking at the top twenty times in each age group. In the men’s race age group times clearly trend towards the slower end of the scale, but amongst the female age groups times fall much closer to the averages. Interestingly this is also true of men over 50, again their times are closer to average and apparently less affected by the heat of the day. Some clearly coped better with the heat than others.

A spreadsheet of the full results and splits for Ironman Frankfurt 2015 is available on my Google Drive.

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.


  • Christopher Ashford

    Hi Russ, always fascinated by results so thanks for doing the analysis.
    Do you know if there is anywhere that you can find out how far the roll downs go in each race for Kona or the 70.3 world champs? Some races seem to publish this on, but others don’t? I have been at some races where they have actually been announcing “is there anyone here in the 65-70 category that wants to go to Kona?”!
    For races like Frankfurt there are more slots, but actually not really proportional to the number of racers in each AG? keen go get your thoughts.

  • Hey,

    Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a good record of roll downs – if it exists (and I imagine Ironman must have the information in some form) it’s not published on the web. As you’ve found it varies from race to race whether a list of qualifiers is even produced.

    What this means is there’s no strong information on how common roll downs are or how far they tend to go. I did once look at roll downs in New Zealand, but how applicable my conclusions form that are is hard to say.

    I had an athlete get a roll down slot in the M45-49 age group at Austria, he wasn’t the last slot in his age group and the final slot did roll past 30th place! Even in the big Euro races you can get major roll downs.

    I’d certainly say that the higher the number of slots the higher the chances of a roll down. Also that the 30-50 male age groups are less likely to see big roll downs (although as Austria shows it can still happen). With fewer slots roll down doesn’t tend to carry as far in the female age groups. Beyond that I wouldn’t draw many conclusions – theres a big dose of chance in there.

    So for my stats I go with the likely slot allocations per age group and look at finishing times for those places – so athletes who would definitely have been able to take a slot. There is always a chance it rolls to lower times and always a chance it rolls further.

    Final conclusion is always go to roll down if you want a slot.

    As for slots per AG, they are in a sense proportional, but not using the obvious mathematics. There is an allocation system that’s used (and again unpublished so I just use a good approximation of it) and it is based on the number of athletes in age groups. However the method means the percentage of athletes in AG and the percentage of slots for each AG are not the same.


  • Tony


    Thought this anecdotal story of my IM Frankfurt 2015 race may be of some interest to you.

    After finishing 5th at last years Outlaw Ironman (9:31), I looked at your Ironman statistical website in great detail to work out which race would give me the best chance of securing a Kona slot for 2015 – a 9:30 in Frankfurt looked achievable in the M40 category. Then the race slots were down graded from 100 to 75 and the M40 slots went from 17 to about 11, meaning I would have probably needed to go closer to 9:15.

    Long story short. 40° temps change the race dynamics a lot, my 1:02/4:54/3:40 splitting race gave me a 9:40 finish, I was 7th in M40 AG and 60th overall. (2nd Britt finisher!).

    Race report:-

    Roll down info is here:- im wc slot allocation frankfurt website.pdf

    Keep up this great free resource Russ / we the aspiring AG’s really appreciate it!

    Tony Weeks

  • Thanks for the input Tony, anecdotes are appreciated as it helps explain the change in numbers. I don’t always know why a race is faster or slower so input from racers is a help.

    Congrats on a great result too, in those conditions that’s an excellent performance. You clearly tolerate heat quite well.