There are two Ironman races this weekend: Switzerland, which I’ll look at later in the week and Lake Placid, the subject of today’s short analysis. Ironman Lake Placid is the longest running American Ironman outside of Kona and there are 10 years of historical results readily available in the Athlete Tracker – plenty for me to work with. The course itself is hilly with around 1,400m of climbing on the bike and a further 300m on the run. Of note this year is the use of the SwimSmart rolling race start first seen at Ironman Coeur d’Alene back in June.
As the distribution of split times above show, like Coeur d’Alene, Ironman Lake Placid is a typical North American Ironman. There are a lot of similarities between the two charts each covering about 10 years of racing at their respective venues. The field size is large and the spread of abilities broad as is reflected by each of the graphs. Peak finishing times for each discipline are similar and tails are weighted towards slower times.
Comparing the median splits across divisions highlights a few potential differences between the two races. Faster swim and run at Lake Placid, but a slightly slower bike which results in the overall times being comparable. It’s hard to determine the impact a course has on results, perhaps more so when such a large and broad field of athletes are present. From a results set perspective both these events offer comparable challenges.
Will the change in swim start have an impact? The limited data offered by the athlete tracker makes it very hard to assess – it’s impossible to determine starting patterns or analyse course congestion. Swim times at Coeur D’Alene this year (under the new swim start) were faster than average, but the differences were small and not particularly significant. At this stage it’s hard to build a clear picture of the impact the rolling start has on the race.
|Number of Athletes||Number of Slots|
Using the Bib list available on the race website I can estimate the Kona slot allocation (above). Ironman Lake Placid will have 60 slots available with 2,780 athletes registered to start. As usual the male 40-44 age group is the largest and takes the biggest portion of those slots. Averaging the finishing times within age groups allows me to estimate probably qualification times in the charts below.
Over the last 10 years there has been quite a wide variation in finishing times for each placing within most of the age groups. Conditions and competition on the day determine the exact times that will be required; how well prepared an athlete is determines their ability to actually deliver this. As a rough guide men under 45 should probably aim to break 10 hours to be confident of a slot. Women, as ever, will need to win or place on the podium and that’s likely to require a finishing time under 11 hours.
Another fairly standard North American race – a large field with a broad spread of abilities – but competition for the Kona slots remains tight though.