Hot races tend to be slow races and Ironman Taiwan, a new addition to the Ironman calendar, was no exception to this rule. It was a relatively small race, competitors numbering just over 1,000, with only a few Kona slots on offer. 25 places at the Ironman world championship were up for grabs, but no more than 2 of them in any individual age group. So it was hot and tough, but for a small group of age groupers it still provided a ticket to Kona.
I’ve decided to compare results from Taiwan against the two other asian races: Malaysia and Japan. I’ve only used data from the most recent events for this analysis.
Comparing median splits across these three races and there are many similarities, but Malaysia is consistently behind the other two. In the male categories Taiwan seems to fall somewhere between Japan and Malaysia, but for the women Japan has a distinctly slower bike split that pulls it back behind Taiwan. All three are slow races when compared with typical results in other territories; tough, often hot, conditions play a large role here.
The distributions place Taiwan much closer to Japan than Malaysia. The swim is similar in all three, Japan has the slowest bike and Taiwan the fastest run. In the overall splits Taiwan is the fastest at the front of the pack, although this is by a relatively small margin. Move further back and times fall more closely in line with the other races; by the middle of the field Japan and Taiwan show similar overall splits.
At the front of the pack, looking at the top twenty in each age group, we see sharp differences from first place through to twentieth. Age group wins are often taken with significant leads on the second place athletes; signs are the amateur field wassn’t particularly deep. Athlete numbers were low enough that no female age group had a full complement of 20 finishers (the largest age group, F35-39, had 27 entrants). Despite the tough conditions Kona qualifying times were still up there, not far off typical times at other races. So unless you thrive in tough, hot conditions Taiwan isn’t likely to be a race I’d recommend for those looking to qualify.
You can access a spreadsheet of the full results and splits for Ironman Taiwan 2015 on my Google Drive.