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Ironman UK 2018: Age Group Results and Kona Qualification

This week’s race analysis is for Ironman UK. The Bolton event took place on Sunday with a field in excess of 1,800 athletes competing for 40 Kona age group slots. Moorland fires in the region forced adjustments to this year’s course – the race went ahead with a reduced bike of 95 miles. That obviously has a huge impact on results as we’ll see in this analysis.

Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman UK 2018 Compared with 2009-2017
Adjusted Distribution of Finisher Splits at Ironman UK 2018

A slower trending swim and run are easily outweighed by a vastly faster bike at this year’s race. This shows in the first chart: this year’s median age group bike split is comparable with the fifth percentile from the previous 9 years. The run looks to have been impacted by the warm conditions the race experienced, but the hit to time there puts a minimal dent in the overall splits.

As I did with Frankfurt’s long bike course I’ve applied a simple transformation to the bike and overall splits for the second chart above. Assuming athletes would sustain their pace over the missing 17 miles of the bike course, the charts show how the distributions would look. Had the bike course been 112 miles then we’d potentially be looking at a slower race all round.

It should be noted that this is a very simplistic way to deal with the course changes. We’d expect an additional 17 miles would have a broader impact on the pace most athletes sustained in both bike and run. It’s also worth considering how, over the years, the Bolton course has changed a number of times meaning the amalgamated data for the previous 9 races is an imperfect guide to the current course. Still, in hot conditions, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say this was a slower year at Bolton save for the shortened course.

DNS and DNF Rates at Ironman UK
Year
Listed Athletes
Swim Finish
Swim DNS/DNF
Bike Finish
Bike DNF
Run Finish
Run DNF
Overall DNS/DNF
2007
1560
1232
21%
1169
5.1%
1129
3.4%
27.5%
2008
1650
1281
22.4%
1223
4.5%
1193
2.5%
27.6%
2009
1652
1371
17%
1285
6.3%
1260
1.9%
23.7%
2010
1371
1104
19.5%
1067
3.4%
1050
1.6%
23.3%
2011
1276
1080
15.4%
1061
1.8%
1037
2.3%
18.7%
2012
1278
1274
0.3%
1236
3%
1180
4.5%
7.7%
2013
1600
1429
10.7%
1393
2.5%
1355
2.7%
15.3%
2014
1982
1735
12.5%
1643
5.3%
1602
2.5%
19.1%
2015
2157
1856
14%
1758
5.3%
1707
2.9%
20.9%
2016
2094
1817
13.2%
1741
4.2%
1685
3.2%
19.5%
2017
1874
1863
0.6%
1785
4.2%
1717
3.8%
8.3%
2018
1890
1885
0.3%
1854
1.6%
1806
2.6%
4.4%

The reduction to the course length also helped reduce the DNF rates for the race. As every I’ll note that the presentation of results in previous years has often mixed DNS and DNF numbers inflating swim and overall totals. What we can clearly see though is the lowest DNF rate for the bike course and a mid ranged DNF rate for the run course. This probably reflects the fact it was easier to complete within the cut-off times than in previous years.

Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman UK 2018
Median Splits by Age Group at Ironman UK 2009-2017

We’ll pass quickly over the medians. Of course the bike was faster for all age groups. The run and swim were generally slower.

Top 10 Nationalities at Ironman UK
Country
Count
Percentage
United Kingdom
1814
86.9
Ireland
64
3.1
United States
25
1.2
Poland
21
1
Spain
17
0.8
France
13
0.6
Belgium
12
0.6
Germany
11
0.5
Italy
11
0.5
New Zealand
9
0.4
Ironman UK 2018 Predicted Kona Qualifiers by Country
Country
Percentage of Slots
Percentage of Field
United Kingdom
67.5
86.9
Ireland
7.5
3.1
United States
5.0
1.2
Belgium
5.0
0.6
Poland
2.5
1.0
Australia
2.5
0.1
Germany
2.5
0.5
Switzerland
2.5
0.1
France
2.5
0.6
Isle of Man
2.5
0.2

Ironman UK was predominantly a UK event with a small number of athletes coming from further afield (Ireland unsurprisingly being the next biggest). Slots tended to stay in the UK, but a third went elsewhere.

Changes in Male Finishing Times by Position at Ironman UK
Changes in Female Finishing Times by Position at Ironman UK

For the largest age groups the course has actually been quite consistent since 2013. Most of the course changes happened in the years prior to that. Obviously we see a very consistent drop in times for this year’s race.

Ironman UK 2018 Predicted Kona Qualification Times
Age Group
Slots
Winner
Average Kona Qualifier
Final Qualifier
M18-24
1
09:44:00
09:44:00
09:44:00
M25-29
2
08:47:08
08:55:10
09:03:13
M30-34
3
08:22:25
08:31:46
08:47:23
M35-39
4
08:37:56
09:01:37
09:11:30
M40-44
4
08:46:30
08:53:08
08:59:18
M45-49
4
09:09:24
09:21:08
09:28:11
M50-54
3
09:15:27
09:24:51
09:43:34
M55-59
2
09:34:34
09:55:41
10:16:48
M60-64
1
10:30:53
10:30:53
10:30:53
M65-69
1
11:34:45
11:34:45
11:34:45
M70-74
1
14:25:20
14:25:20
14:25:20
F18-24
1
12:24:40
12:24:40
12:24:40
F25-29
1
10:42:37
10:42:37
10:42:37
F30-34
2
10:01:51
10:06:34
10:11:17
F35-39
2
09:53:19
10:03:17
10:13:15
F40-44
2
10:10:44
10:15:54
10:21:05
F45-49
2
10:39:40
11:10:54
11:42:09
F50-54
1
12:08:26
12:08:26
12:08:26
F55-59
1
11:23:09
11:23:09
11:23:09
F60-64
1
12:29:54
12:29:54
12:29:54
F65-69
1
14:37:22
14:37:22
14:37:22

Based on the start numbers I’ve estimated the slot allocation and the automatic qualifying times for those slots. Exact numbers will vary and roll down would affect the final qualifier. You can compare this with other races on my Kona qualification page, just remember this was much faster than usual for Bolton.

Top Twenty Male Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman UK 2018
Top Twenty Female Performances and Kona Qualification by Age Group at Ironman UK 2018

The pattern is quite clear for the top twenty in each age group. Much faster than normal by about the time needed to ride 17 miles on a bike. The under 25s don’t appear to have performed quite as well – their graphs trend close to the averages. Otherwise we see a race we can’t really compare with previous editions of this event.

You can access a spreadsheet of the full results from Ironman UK 2018 on my Google Drive.

All Ironman Results and Statistics

A growing collection of results and statistics for the whole Ironman race calendar.

Find out what it takes to place in your age group or to qualify for the Ironman Worlds Championships in Kona.

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