Ironman World Championship 2014: Past Performances

A more recent article about this race is available

Four days remain until the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii which means it’s time I posted an analysis of this race. As you’d expect from a race calling itself a World Championship and largely selecting its entrants the age group field is stacked and times in Kona trend fast. The majority of the athletes qualified by being one of the fastest in their age group at another race, that’s not an easy task. Last year we saw numerous age group records fall under favourable conditions, how this year compares will very much depend on the wind and heat on race day.

If qualifying is hard, reaching the podium in your age group is even harder – the competition in Hawaii is stiff. You can find more detailed charts and results for the top 10 in each age group at the bottom of this post.

Median Splits by Age Group at the Ironman World Championship 2004 - 2013
Median Splits by Age Group Across All 2013 North American Ironman Races
Median Splits by Category at 2013 European Ironman Races

Comparing median splits between Kona, the rest of North America and the rest of Europe very quickly highlights just how fast the field there is. Despite a non-wetsuit sea swim Kona manages faster average swim times; despite hot and windy conditions on a rolling course Kona manages faster average bike time; despite the wilting sun on the run course Kona manages faster average run time. Compared to other Ironman races these are above average age groupers. The differences in pro splits are much smaller and not really that significant, it’s probably a fairer indication of the course that times are so similar. The Ironman world Championship may be their peak race, but it’s not a fast course.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at the Ironman World Championship 2004 - 2013
Distribution of Finisher Splits at All 2013 North American Ironman Races
Distribution of Finishers' Splits at 2013 European Ironman Races

Lining up the distribution of finisher splits for the same groupings of races reinforces the analysis: times in Kona are faster with a heavy skew in each discipline. There are far fewer athletes at the slower end of the field, many of them will come from the older age groups or lottery and legacy slots, some will be having bad days. While the difference at the median (50% point) is large, the difference at the very front (5%) is much smaller. Again this reflects the course – we have many of the fastest age group athletes, but not the fastest course.

Top Twenty Male Performances by Age Group at the Ironman World Championship
Top Twenty Female Performances by Age Group at the Ironman World Championship

Looking at times for the top twenty athletes in each age group I’d firstly note that the level of competition is consistent year-on-year with the difference between first, tenth and twentieth varying little. Actual finishing times do vary, some years being slower, some faster, but the gaps between athletes at the front are much the same. The average times for these places compare with the fastest races on the circuit, courses like Austria or Frankfurt, but conditions in Kona are far more challenging. It’s not a PB course so we shouldn’t be surprised that times at the very front of the field are rarely age group records.

If you want to view more details for a particular age group you can download one of the PDFs below. They contain a mix of charts broken down by age group and year as well as detailed splits for the top ten athletes in each age group.

Detailed Age Group Statistics

Age group specific Ironman World Championship results analysis – more charts and more detailed timings and splits for the top age groupers.

Select an age group to view or download PDF

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Ironman Hawaii ends at 11am UK time on Sunday, you can expect an analysis of this year’s results shortly after that (assuming the tracker plays ball).

Kona Qualification

Compare qualification times across the Ironman Calendar.

Kona Consultancy

Individual race analysis and guidance for Kona qualification.

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