Ironman Chattanooga is the third and final race of the weekend. Another new event with no race history to examine so I’ll be drawing comparisons with other North American races. The short story is Ironman Chattanooga looks to be one of the quicker races in the US with average finisher times around 30-45 minutes faster.
Let’s start with the obvious: a point-to-point river swim with the current is always going to produce fast swim splits. In Chattanooga we see median swim splits under the hour for most age groups; that already puts the race around 15-20 minutes ahead of the US average. The bike and run that follow also trend faster which natural results in faster finish times across the age groups. With many pros in Kona the professional averages don’t deviate so much for this race.
Comparing distributions adds a little more detail. The swim is, of course, heavily skewed towards faster times. On the bike and run the 50th percentile (median) point is faster than in the general US charts, but the 5th percentile is actually pretty similar. It appears the difference mostly comes in the middle of the pack rather than a faster front of race. The overall chart reflects this – Chattanooga trends faster, but most significantly in the middle of the field.
When we look at the top twenty performances we see a handful of very fast athletes taking the top positions at the front of the race and then a rapid drop off in times. There are some big gaps between places on the podium and those likely to grab Kona slots. Qualification times are fast, but with a wide spread that leaves room for a few more fast athletes to compete. The front of this race was perhaps a little lacking in depth compared with some earlier season events.
Ironman Chattanooga appears to be a favourable race course. We’ll need a few more years of racing to confirm this, but it could be a good choice for setting a decent Ironman time and is potentially a good qualification choice at this moment. You can view a spreadsheet of the full results and splits from Ironman Chattanooga 2014 on my Google Drive.