Ironman Fortaleza 2016: Age Group Results and Kona Qualification

The second Ironman of the weekend to analyse is Ironman Fortaleza. A much smaller event with around 600 entries, it still carried a compliment of 40 Kona slots. That doesn’t seem like bad odds in comparison with the competition at Arizona. As we’ll see though, in the biggest age groups qualifying times remained competitive.

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

For the most part the finisher distributions fall in line with results from the previous 2 years. The run section appears to have been faster, particularly at the median, and this has a knock on effect giving slightly faster overall splits. Differences in every case are relatively small.

DNS and DNF Rates at Ironman Fortaleza
Listed Athletes Swim Finish Swim DNS/DNF Bike Finish Bike DNF Run Finish Run DNF Overall DNS/DNF
2014 1187 951 19.9% 925 2.7% 878 5.1% 26%
2015 604 527 12.7% 527 0% 496 5.9% 17.9%
2016 633 571 9.8% 556 2.6% 509 8.5% 19.6%

With smaller races it’s hard to tell how heavily DNS numbers are involved in the statistics. I suspect all 3 years include all registered athletes giving a higher DNS rate. Bearing that in mind this year’s race saw a higher level of DNF on the run than before and that pushes it up over 2015. This may have impacted the median splits too, with more people pulling out thinning out the tail end of the field and improving the median.

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

Comparing age division medians there’s inconsistency, but we do see improvements in bike and run here. It’s far from universal and some age groups were slower this time round. I’d imagine conditions were comparable with previous years and we’re mainly observing the differences in the competitive field.

Top 10 Nationalities at Ironman Fortaleza
Count Percentage
Brazil 534 84.4
Argentinia 53 8.4
France 8 1.3
Spain 6 0.9
United States 5 0.8
Germany 4 0.6
Italy 2 0.3
Mexico 2 0.3
Ireland 2 0.3
Austria 2 0.3

The small field was largely native to Brazil with a small number coming from further afield. Few made the trip from the US.

Ironman Fortaleza 2016 Predicted Kona Qualifiers by Country
Country Percentage of Slots Percentage of Field
Brazil 77.5 84.4
Argentinia 7.5 8.4
Uruguay 2.5 0.3
Switzerland 2.5 0.3
Germany 2.5 0.6

Based on my calculations for slot allocations the majority of automatic qualifiers (without roll down) would also come from Brazil. There don’t appear to have been many (successful) Kona chasers travelling to Fortaleza in the hope of better odds.

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

As with the medians there’s variation in finishing times for different age groups. There are more slower age groups than there are faster ones, but differences are small in either direction. It’s hard to call which way the balance lies, I suspect this year’s race was par for the course.

Ironman Fortaleza 2016 Predicted Kona Qualification Times
  Slots Winner Average Kona Qualifier Final Qualifier
M18-24 2 10:28:49 10:35:42 10:42:36
M25-29 2 9:39:57 9:43:03 9:46:09
M30-34 4 9:36:08 9:52:29 10:01:05
M35-39 6 9:12:09 9:20:13 9:26:05
M40-44 5 9:22:46 9:48:36 10:00:50
M45-49 3 10:06:22 10:13:30 10:24:15
M50-54 2 10:05:35 10:17:45 10:29:56
M55-59 2 11:53:04 12:10:35 12:28:07
M60-64 1 12:15:42 12:15:42 12:15:42
F18-24 1 10:49:46 10:49:46 10:49:46
F25-29 1 11:22:46 11:22:46 11:22:46
F30-34 1 11:06:34 11:06:34 11:06:34
F35-39 2 11:02:16 11:04:46 11:07:16
F40-44 1 10:45:00 10:45:00 10:45:00
F45-49 2 12:17:34 12:25:54 12:34:14
F50-54 1 12:37:19 12:37:19 12:37:19
F55-59 1 12:02:06 12:02:06 12:02:06

Based on my slot allocation calculations the above table contains the automatic qualifying times for this year’s race (assuming no roll downs). Fortaleza isn’t a fast Ironman, but there’s some decent times in the biggest age groups. You can compare these times with other races on my Kona qualification page.

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

Finally, there are two age groups that stand out among the top twenty. Where most were slower than average, both the M35-39 and M40-44 were much faster than previous results. A good year of racing for both. with much smaller numbers in the women’s field it’s harder to pick out any patterns, times generally fall somewhere between the two previous years with F40-44 being the best performers.

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

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  • Rob

    I was one of the two Irish athletes on your list, my wife was the other. We were honeymooning and thought we’d sneak in a late season Ironman. I thought the qualification times looked relatively achievable based on the course profile and previous times but conditions made it a much tougher tough day than I’d anticaped. The swim was the roughest I’ve done anywhere in the world (I’m not a terribly strong swimmer but am normally out somewhere between 60-68 minutes) this race saw me do my slowest swim ever in 1hr27
    The bike has huge headwinds on the way back and temperatures were somewhere in the low to mid thirties for both the bike and run.
    Overall a much harder race than the profile might lead you to believe.
    There was only one slot that rolled down at the ceremony and almost all the athletes who qualified wore Kona kit and were known to the race race director which I took to mean they’d qualified before.
    A good but hard race.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Well done to the both of you. Especially while on your Honeymoon!

    Thanks for the info, I don’t hear much about this race usually. Sounds like a tough one, conditions like some of the other central and south American races have seen and ones that push times down. If they’re typical for Fortaleza, might help explain the low race numbers.

  • Rob

    Thanks Russell,
    Yeah the wind always blows and the swim is always non wetsuit. It’s the closest conditions I’ve experienced to Kona outside of Hawaii. While it might be a couple of degrees cooler and the run is flatter the heat, constant strong winds and very hard sea swim make it much tougher than you would expect from the profile.
    The other thing to note is that it’s not run by Ironman, rather it’s done under licence. This is my first experience of this. All of the races I’ve done so far have been run directly by WTC. It sort of felt a little more old school and a little less slick and corporate but no less enjoyable as a result.