Ironman Austria is a fast course. Normally conditions are good, roads are perfect, the run is flat and, let’s get this out of the way now because it always comes up, it’s also short. The GPS data I’ve seen from the course in the last couple of years would put the bike at around 109 miles. Whether that’s enough to account for the finish times seen is another matter. Of course there were also years like 2012 when the heat decimated the field and times were slow by Klagenfurt standards. The athletes I have racing there this weekend are definitely wary of conditions.
Eight years of racing combine in the above distributions to demonstrate that Austria is a fast race. Swim, bike, run and overall times all demonstrate clear left skews. The peak finishing times fall between 10:30 and 11:30 and after that rapidly trail off. There is a strong field here, but the course is also kind.
Median times largely confirm this. Swim times are unexceptional, no different from any other race. Bike and run averages however are at the faster end of times we’ve seen. Given I identified and fixed a small bug this morning that had been unintentionally improving previous averages that’s all the more impressive.
|Number of Athletes||Number of Slots|
As usual it’s the 40-44 year old men who dominate the field and take most of the Kona slots. The predictions above are estimates based on the number of entrants, final numbers will be based on starters.
Unsurprisingly when we look at the top 20 performances in each age division times are fast. Also of note should be the level of competition – the drop off from first to tenth is relatively small. In the main male age groups you are looking at a sub 9:15 for qualification under normal circumstances. Often age groups are won in under 9 hours; in the M30-34 category even 15th place has broken 9 hours in the past. As usual for a woman to qualify you likely need to win your age group and to do that you should probably be looking to break 10 hours. There is some fast racing at the front-of-the-pack.
It’s worth remembering that qualifying times are condition dependent. Last year one of my athletes qualified in the male 30-34 age group with a 9:30 finish. The heat slowed the field sufficiently that this was good enough for 9th place and, with the aid of a roll down (plus a few more slots available), he was off to Hawaii. Averages are a guide, it comes down to race day (and going to the roll down).
Conditions are looking better this year so times should return to their usual standards. Austria remains a good choice for a fast Ironman time, but competition for qualification is stiff and the number of slots few. If you have the components to at least break 9:15 (or 10:00 if you’re a woman) you might be able to do it.