While there are concerns that increasing competitor numbers at many Ironman races is resulting in over crowding of the course this was not an issue for Ironman Los Cabos: 200 fewer athletes made it to the start line in its second year. Perhaps the challenging conditions in the first year or the inaccurate rumours of a 41% DNF rate following it put athletes off. The end result was a field of around 870 athletes competing for 50 Kona slots in Los Cabos at the weekend.
Conditions were tough in 2013 – the DNF rate was high at 19.7% and swim and bike times were particularly slow. When we compare this with the 2014 finisher splits in the charts above it’s clear that better conditions and a new bike course had a positive impact on finishing times. Both swim and bike times were significantly faster in 2014 and while run times were more broadly comparable, overall race results remained ahead of 2013.
Such noticeable changes are naturally also reflected when we look at the medians across age groups: swim and bike times are down almost universally. The pattern with run times is a little less clear, some groups faster and other slower. For the professional athletes the impact of the changes are less marked, changes in times aren’t significant.
Focussing on the finer detail, at the front of the men’s field we see quite a uniform improvements in finishing times. Naturally there are a few exceptions, but the broad pattern is of 10-20 minute improvements in times. The same is not true for the women where improvements are generally smaller and don’t carry as far into the age groups. A sparse female field meant there were fewer consistent front-of-pack athletes to push forward the times or chase the open slots. While men’s times were faster the level of competition, how tight placings were, remains largely the same.
The new bike course was intended to make things easier and speed the race up – it appears to have worked. With relatively low competitor numbers and 50 slots available this might make Los Cabos a more tempting prospect for those looking to qualify. While the course may yield quicker times that process still comes down to the competition and a smaller field doesn’t guarantee smaller competition.
The full results and splits from Ironman Los Cabos 2014 in spreadsheet form are available on my Google Drive.