The World Champs are over and we’re back into next year’s qualification races with Ironman Florida this weekend. Fifty slots are on offer for the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Kona with a large field of just over 3000 athletes competing for them. Florida is a fast course trending a little faster than the average North American race; age group winers are rapid, but so too is the trail off in finishing times giving a wide spread of qualification times.
The distribution of finisher splits at Florida over the last 10 years (top) is largely comparable with that for all North American races last year (bottom). There are exceptions, most easily picked out on the bike and overall splits, where Florida peaks slightly faster, but the impact is small. These minor difference can probably be attributed to Florida’s flat and fast bike course.
The median splits across age groups provide further weight to Florida’s natural speed. At least at an age group level. Swim, bike and run are faster than the 2012 US averages, the difference being most obvious for the bike. It should be noted that the trend does not hold true for the pro field where times don’t significantly vary from the US averages. Perhaps as an early qualifier Florida attracts a selection of fast age groupers looking to quickly grab a slot.
|Number of Athletes||Number of Slots|
From the bib list available on the Ironman Florida website I’ve constructed the slot allocation above. Actual numbers will likely vary dependent on official starters, but the table above offers a reasonable guide. We can expect the male 40-44 age group to once again dominate the race and slot allocation.
While there have been some rapid podium times in the age groups finishing times rapidly fall off within the top 20 and there is a broad range of qualification times seen at Ironman Florida. Such a wide range of times for each position indicates a variable race in conditions or depth of field making it hard to predict qualifying requirements. A rule of thumb for men under 40 would be to be aiming for 9:15 or less, over 40 and 9:30 becomes a reasonable target. The most competitive women’s age group will likely be looking for something in the region of 10:00-10:30 at the outside. As ever qualifying times will very much come down to conditions and competition on the day.
It was roughly a year ago, following Ironman Florida, that the idea of gathering and analysing all available Ironman results was born. My Ironman Stats have evolved a lot since then – from Excel spreadsheets to a dedicated database and a large collection of code for extracting information into dedicated graphing packages. As the next season starts up I run the risk of repeating myself so will need to continue to develop and find new ways to look at races (I have some ideas). There is also enough data gathered that I can begin to provide age group specific information, such as this, but more of that to come.
Results and analysis of this year’s Ironman Florida should be available over the weekend. Expectations will be for something a little faster than the average race.