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Ironman World Championship 2015: Results and Analysis

The 2015 Ironman World Championship finished up a couple of hours ago in Kona. I had three athletes racing this year and they all did well, comfortable finishing in 10-11 hour range. For the field as a whole this looks to have been a typical year of racing on the island. Although median times appear to be down, particularly on the run, much of this appears to come from a weightier back of pack at this year’s race. At the competitive end of the age group field times lie much closer to race averages.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at the Ironman World Championship 2015 Compared with 2004-2014

Comparing the distributions of splits from this year’s race with the previous eleven years clearly suggests a slightly slower race. The overall median point is down along with those from swim and run; kike splits appear to be the most comparable. There’s some notable weight in the tails of the run and overall distributions, suggesting the run was the main differentiator in this race. A slower age group run than usual pushing down overall times, with the biggest impact falling at the mid to back of pack athletes.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at the Ironman World Championship 2015 Compared to 2014

To back up this interpretation I decided to compare 2015 directly with 2014. This year’s race is still the slower of the two, but the differences are smaller. In fact the 2015 bike trends faster than 2014. Once again the run stands out though and the extra weight towards the back of the race pulls down the median. That said the front of the race is also lighter, run conditions may have been a tough element this year.

Median Splits by Age Group at the Ironman World Championship 2015
Median Splits by Age Group at the Ironman World Championship 2004-2014

It can be hard to pick out patterns across the age group median splits. Unsurprisingly they tend to fall in line with what we’ve seen in the distributions: swim is a little slower, bike is broadly comparable and the run is more distinctly slower. The differences aren’t huge when viewed in this way, at least not consistently across the age groups. In comparison pro results trend faster across all 3 disciplines.

Changes in Male Age Group Finishing Times by Place at the Ironman World Championship
Changes in Female Age Group Finishing Times by Place at the Ironman World Championship

In this case comparing times for finishing positions over the last decade is a useful way to see how this year’s race fits in. We can be clear it’s neither the fastest nor the slowest year seen. In fact it appears to lie a little closer to the norm in this chart. Certainly from the middle to the front of pack times are roughly comparable to a number of previous years. Depending on age group it’s either a little slower or a little faster than 2014. Where does this place the 2015 race? Not that far from the average for Kona in the end, perhaps just edging onto the slower side thanks to a heavier back of pack.

Top Twenty Male Performances by Age Group at the 2015 Ironman World Championship
Top Twenty Female Performances by Age Group at the 2015 Ironman World Championship

When we look at the top twenty in each age group the times do lie close to the average. There’s variation either side, but results don’t deviate too much and again tend to be slower than in 2014. At the sharp end of the race it was business as usual in Kona. If run conditions were slower this year they had little impact on the results here.

You can access a spreadsheet of the full results and splits from the 2015 Ironman World Championship on my Google Drive.

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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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