As we come to the end of September Ironman Cairns was our third full-distance Ironman event of the season. The Asia-Pacific Championship comes with 75 slots for the 2021 Ironman World Champs, but Covid means numbers were exceptionally low. 221 age group athletes (241 including pros) made the start line and competed for those places. Unsurprisingly, there’s a significant shift in qualification times for this year’s event.
With low numbers of competitors this year’s distributions lack the smoothness of the amalgamated results. They broadly reflect a similar pattern though. The swim is distinctly faster at the median this year, but bike and run trend slightly slower. In the bike and run the median times aren’t hugely different and this is also true for the overall split. Front end times, the top 5% are more clearly slower.
The DNF rates were a little higher on the bike and largely inline with recent years on the run. The net result is a higher overall DNF rate than usual. Again, the low numbers mean outliers have more impact. 26 DNF this year gives a higher percentage DNF than 95 DNFs the year before.
The median splits again highlight the impact of low numbers. A number of female age groups had no athletes present for comparison. We can also see that medians were much slower among women – again the impact of so few athletes competing.As noted in the distributions, outside the swim medius were slower this year.
It;’s not surprise that the vast majority of athletes were Australian. travel restrictions and the risks of quarantines would limit those form outside. Potentially competitors listed as other nationalities may be residing in Australia too. Kona qualification largely lies up with the athlete numbers.
Times for most age group positions were slower this year. As we move back through the race this reflects the smaller size. In a 1,000 athlete race 10th place is nearer the front of pack than in a 240 person race. That said there’s a general pattern of slower age group winner times with a couple of exceptions.
Based on the start list I’ve calculated the slot allocation for Ironman Cairns and from that the times that would automatically qualify. Final numbers may vary and roll down is not factored in. You can compare these with Ironman Cairns in general here and see how other races stand on my Kona qualification page.
The graphs above show how much slower qualifications times are compared to normal. Focussing on the male age groups, where the numbers are a little better, age group winners tend to be closer to the average (or faster between 35 and 44) and then times drop off quickly. If you could get to Cairns to race then the potential to qualify was far higher than usual.