There were only so many events I could fit in to the all too brief four months I spent in New Zealand back in 2010, unfortunately Challenge Wanaka wasn’t one of them. It remains on my long bucket list of races, pending a time when I am both able to travel around the world and prepared to race. For now it marks the start of the 2013 Challenge series and the first Challenge race to be added to my results database. I’ve yet to build tools to extract the full splits to a spreadsheet, but the Challenge results service is marginally better than their Ironman equivalent, you can view results and access splits here.
Challenge Wanaka is a small and by all accounts tough race. The results corroborate this with 169 finishers and a fastest finish of 8:51:18. The average age grouper, shown in the chart above, also reflected the slower times, the mean finishing time of 12:50 would place Wanaka among the slower Ironman races of 2012. Averages though are a weak assessment of a race – it’s impossible to separate the effect of course and conditions from the quality of the field. So instead I turn to the distributions of finishers for a more detailed view.
The data is sparse in comparison with the thousand of finishers at bigger Ironman and Challenge events and this is reflected in the appearance of the chart. As the histograms stand they hint at the slower conditions, skews tend towards the slower times with a small group of athletes (including the pros) filling in to the left. Only the run, probably less influenced by conditions on the day, shows the signs of a broad spread of ability across the field.
My first examination of a Challenge event is a brief affair as I get up to speed with data extraction and I start looking for new ways to present race data in 2013. On its own there is a limited amount that can be read into race results, comparison with the history of Challenge events will make for more interesting analysis. I have a full collection of results, courtesy of the Challenge Family, but processing them into more manageable formats will take some time (if anyone can recommend good PDF to Excel converters, let me know). For now I’ll make do with seeing the signs of a strong field on a tough course.