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Ironman Chattanooga 2016: Results and Kona Qualification Analysis

Entering it’s third year (alongside Ironman Mallorca) at the weekend was Ironman Chattanooga. This is going to be a quick analysis. Conditions in Chattanooga were hot and humid and the impact was extreme. The 2016 race is the slowest seen on the course by a large margin and the DNF rate was through the roof. That pretty neatly sums up what we’ll see in the following charts.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman Chattanooga 2016 Compared with 2014-2015

There is a massive shift in the results distributions for 2016. Overall we’re looking at a minimum of a 1 hour difference in finishing times; it’s not often I’ve seen that big an impact. Every stage of this race was slower, but it’s worth noting that the previous swim distribution is particularly fast and it’s really the bike and run that make the difference.

DNS and DNF Rates at Ironman Chattanooga
Listed Athletes Swim Finish Swim DNS/DNF Bike Finish Bike DNF Run Finish Run DNF Overall DNS/DNF
2014 2349 2315 1.4% 2287 1.2% 2233 2.4% 4.9%
2015 2674 2245 16% 2193 2.3% 2079 5.2% 22.3%
2016 2716 2213 18.5% 2036 8% 1651 18.9% 39.2%

To confuse matters we have differing records for start numbers – the 2014 figures don’t include DNS numbers, but both 2015 and 2016 do. The athlete tracker includes those who didn’t start the event, so for this analysis I can’t separate them out. What we can take away is the DNF rate is much higher than normal and we can see in the individual bike and run numbers a huge increase. A DNF rate of 18% on the run is massive, up there with the most extreme.

Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Chattanooga 2016
Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman Chattanooga 2014-2015

Of course age group medians show the same slower pattern. Only the male pros raced comparably with previous years, and even then their run was slower.

Ironman Chattanooga 2016 Predicted Kona Qualifiers by Country
Country Percentage of Slots Percentage of Field
United States 90.0 92.4
Germany 5.0 0.2
United Kingdom 5.0 0.8
South Africa 5.0 0.2

Assuming little roll down, almost all of the 40 Kona slots available in Chattanooga will have gone to US age groupers. Not surprising given they make up over 90% of the competitive field.

Top 10 Nationalities at Ironman Chattanooga
Count Percentage
United States 2510 92.4
Canada 38 1.4
United Kingdom 23 0.8
Mexico 22 0.8
Puerto Rico 17 0.6
Ireland 7 0.3
Philippines 7 0.3
South Africa 6 0.2
Germany 6 0.2
Colombia 6 0.2

As noted, most athletes came from North America, but there’s a small selection from around the world.

Changes in Male Finishing Times by Position at Ironman Chattanooga
Changes in Female Finishing Times by Position at Ironman Chattanooga

If you need further confirmation we can compare finishing time by position across different age groups. There’s a large up turn in times for almost every age group and position.

Ironman Chattanooga 2016 Predicted Kona Qualification Times
  Slots Winner Average Kona Qualifier Final Qualifier
M18-24 1 10:26:01 10:26:01 10:26:01
M25-29 1 9:51:48 9:51:48 9:51:48
M30-34 2 9:36:04 9:44:14 9:52:24
M35-39 3 10:02:54 10:09:42 10:17:05
M40-44 3 9:40:29 9:53:41 10:09:29
M45-49 4 9:58:34 10:20:30 10:41:13
M50-54 3 10:07:02 10:19:00 10:31:43
M55-59 2 11:31:35 11:38:21 11:45:07
M60-64 2 12:08:02 12:16:40 12:25:18
M65-69 1 13:19:31 13:19:31 13:19:31
M70-74 1 15:12:45 15:12:45 15:12:45
F18-24 1 14:28:59 14:28:59 14:28:59
F25-29 1 11:49:21 11:49:21 11:49:21
F30-34 2 10:50:01 10:56:25 11:02:50
F35-39 2 10:26:53 10:28:57 10:31:02
F40-44 2 10:23:43 10:27:54 10:32:05
F45-49 2 11:33:59 11:39:53 11:45:48
F50-54 2 11:06:58 11:30:31 11:54:05
F55-59 1 12:34:37 12:34:37 12:34:37
F60-64 1 13:53:04 13:53:04 13:53:04
F65-69 1 15:58:34 15:58:34 15:58:34

Using the numbers in the athlete tracker I’ve estimate the slot distribution for Chattanooga, the actual allocation will use start numbers on the day. From that I can estimate the automatic qualifying times for the event, assuming no roll down. You can compare these times with those of other races on my Kona qualification page.

Top Twenty Male Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman Chattanooga 2016
Top Twenty Female Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman Chattanooga 2016

To finish off this analysis, the top twenty times from the age groups. Again, slower. There are a few athletes, Kona qualifiers at the front of their age groups, who matched last year’s times, but the majority are well behind the average for this course. For almost every age grouper this was a much slower year.

You can access a spreadsheet of the full results and splits from Ironman Chattanooga 2016 on my Google Drive.

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Comments

  • Brett Faulknier

    I raced Choo on 9/25/2016 and finished with time of 12:10 (M 42 yo). I did Choo in 2015 and finished with time of 12:29. There are many factors that were at play but overall training and hydration played the biggest role. These are my only 2 full distance races so my total “n” is still growing. However, reading your analysis,statistically speaking, makes my 19 minute PR a beautiful thing. Thanks. Brett Faulknier. (Bib 703 in 2016)

  • Absolutely. It’s not just about the conditions and there are a few like you who buck the trend. Definitely makes that PR all the better.

  • Brett Faulknier

    Thank you. Definite shoutout to Renee who helped me get through the Marathon. She was amazing!!

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