There are a lot of race statistics to come this week with three Ironman events at the weekend: Ironman Sweden, Ironman Mont-Tremblant and Ironman Copenhagen. I’m going to start the analysis with Mont-Tremblant, this year’s Ironman North American Championship. This is only the second year of racing in Mont-Tremblant so data is limited; I can examine how the 2012 race unfolded, but not whether this is typical of the course.
The distributions of splits help to give guidance as to the strength of a field or the challenges of a course. Strong skews can indicate fast courses or competitive racing, broader distributions tend to come from larger races with a greater diversity of athletes competing; North American races tend to have large fields and broader distributions. Mont-Tremblant however shows a little more skew towards faster times than I’d usually expect. It’s best illustrated by comparing the charts from Mont-Tremblant against the broader charts for all North American races – all the Mont-Tremblant splits lean and fill out the faster end of the North American splits.
Taking the median times for each age group allows a closer examination within different divisions. Again it’s helpful to compare with the medians from all the North American races of 2012 to place Mont-Tremblant in context. With rare exception Mont-Tremblant is faster. Partly this is a product of the large scale grouping of North American races; I am relying on the variance between races to largely balance out over the entire series. This median comparison likely exaggerates the difference – Mont-Tremblant is faster than most, but not by a large a margin as suggested.
|Number of Athletes||Number of Slots|
Using the Bib list available on the Ironman Mont-Tremblant website I’ve estimated the allocation of the 75 Kona slots at this year’s event in the above table. Actual allocation will depend on starters and will vary from the numbers given. I will admit the algorithm stumbled a little on this set, so I expect a few of these age groups to be out by one.
Plotting last year’s top 20 performances from each age group against the available slots give some indication of the qualification standard to expect this year, but having only one previous event limits the confidence we can have in these charts. Was last year particularly fast? Or perhaps it was actually relatively slow and there’s faster to come. Even with several years of results to analyse the average finishing times are only a rough guide.
Based on 2012 it will take a fast time to qualify – solidly sub-10 in the major male age groups. It’s also worth noting that beyond the age group winner the trail off in finishing time is minimal within the qualifiers. This is a good indication of tight competition at the front of the field. On the women’s side there are some significant margins for age group winners with a steeper drop off in time from first to tenth. For the women the performances that get the Kona slots are generally well ahead of most in the field.
Mont-Tremblant already appears to be a fast and competitive race, whether the title of North American Championship will make much difference at an age group level will have to be seen. There is also the introduction of wave starts as part of the SwimSmart Initiative. Waves are by age group so there will be head-to-head racing for slots, but will changes to the density of athletes on the course affect results? I’ll take a look at this and how the results compare when I analyses the 2013 race next week.