Archive | Analysis

July 2017 Updates to the Top 10 Ratings

After the completion of all Regional Championships in mid-July, I have updated the Top 10 Rankings.

TOP 10 Rated Male Athletes

Jan and Sebi are still the clear #1 and #2, both have slightly improved their ratings. With DNFs in their most recent races, the old #3 (Nils) and #4 (Brent) have dropped back to the end of the Top 10. Andi Böcherer has taken over #3, ensuring that the Germans still occupy the first three positions. Patrik Nilsson has climbed from #7 to #4, and Bart Aernouts (now #6), Tim Don (#7) and Tim O’Donnell (#8) have entered the Top 10 by winning their most recent races with fast times.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Jan Frodeno GER 07:58:16 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 8
2 Sebastian Kienle GER 08:04:24 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 14
3 Andi Boecherer GER 08:12:34 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 15
4 Patrik Nilsson SWE 08:15:57 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 8
5 Andy Potts USA 08:17:26 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 16
6 Bart Aernouts BEL 08:18:32 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 11
7 Tim Don GBR 08:18:42 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 4
8 Timothy O’Donnell USA 08:19:34 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 14
9 Nils Frommhold GER 08:21:03 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 9
10 Brent McMahon CAN 08:21:04 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 7

TOP 10 Rated Female Athletes

On the female side, Daniela and Rinny are on top of the rankings. (Rinny hasn’t raced for a while but won’t drop out before October.) Rachel Joyce is back to racing, re-claiming #3. The rest of the order is unchanged, with only Yvonne Van Vlerken re-entering the Top 10 after her fast race in Roth.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Daniela Ryf SUI 08:42:55 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 10
2 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 09:01:36 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
3 Rachel Joyce GBR 09:05:49 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 18
4 Kaisa Sali FIN 09:09:12 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4
5 Heather Jackson USA 09:12:04 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 7
6 Meredith Kessler USA 09:14:01 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 25
7 Susie Cheetham GBR 09:15:04 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 6
8 Melissa Hauschildt AUS 09:15:51 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 4
9 Yvonne Van Vlerken NED 09:17:34 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 26
10 Lucy Gossage GBR 09:17:45 IM UK on 2017-07-16 16

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Male Athletes

The old #1 Dylan McNeice hasn’t been able to race an Ironman for some time, he’s therefore dropped out of the rankings for now with Clayton Fettell moving into the #1 spot. Among some other small changes Brad Kahlefeldt has now completed three races and is eligible for a ranking, he’s now the #7 ranked swimmer.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Clayton Fettell AUS 00:46:23 IM Cairns on 2017-06-11 8
2 Jan Frodeno GER 00:46:45 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 8
3 Andy Potts USA 00:47:00 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 16
4 Marko Albert EST 00:47:03 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 18
5 Denis Chevrot FRA 00:47:20 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 9
6 Michael Fox AUS 00:47:34 IM Cairns on 2017-06-11 5
7 Brad Kahlefeldt AUS 00:47:35 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 3
8 Timothy O’Donnell USA 00:47:38 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 14
9 Andi Boecherer GER 00:47:39 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 15
10 Carlos Lopez Diaz ESP 00:47:45 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 5

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Female Athletes

Lucy Charles takes over the #1 spot for the female swimmers, she is way ahead of everyone else except Lauren Brandon who isn’t quite eligible for a valid ranking just yet. Haley Chura is also back in #3, having finished her first Ironman race in more than two years.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Lucy Charles GBR 00:47:55 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 3
2 Jodie Cunnama GBR 00:49:34 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 9
3 Haley Chura USA 00:50:08 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 9
4 Meredith Kessler USA 00:50:34 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 25
5 Amanda Stevens USA 00:51:17 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 18
6 Mary Beth Ellis USA 00:51:31 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 19
7 Leanda Cave GBR 00:51:46 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 20
8 Celine Schaerer SUI 00:51:50 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 7
9 Annabel Luxford AUS 00:52:00 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 4
10 Daniela Ryf SUI 00:52:02 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 10

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Male Athletes

Andy Starykowicz is still the best rated bike rider among the Ironman athletes with just a few minor shifts in the Top 10.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Andrew Starykowicz USA 04:22:41 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 7
2 Sebastian Kienle GER 04:25:02 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 14
3 Cameron Wurf AUS 04:27:01 IM Cairns on 2017-06-11 4
4 Andi Boecherer GER 04:29:29 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 15
5 Jan Frodeno GER 04:30:22 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 8
6 Dougal Allan NZL 04:31:05 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 9
7 Michael Weiss AUT 04:31:22 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 17
8 Lionel Sanders CAN 04:32:01 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 6
9 Marino Vanhoenacker BEL 04:33:39 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 21
10 Boris Stein GER 04:34:08 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 8

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Female Athletes

Not too many changes among the top ranked female bike riders either. Daniela continues to be the clear #1, Heather Jackson has now moved into #2.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Daniela Ryf SUI 04:54:50 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 10
2 Heather Jackson USA 05:03:14 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 7
3 Anja Beranek GER 05:03:17 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 9
4 Yvonne Van Vlerken NED 05:03:29 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 26
5 Jodie Cunnama GBR 05:04:50 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 9
6 Annabel Luxford AUS 05:05:46 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 4
7 Rachel Joyce GBR 05:06:21 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 17
8 Tine Deckers BEL 05:06:29 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 17
9 Mary Beth Ellis USA 05:06:41 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 19
10 Lucy Gossage GBR 05:06:47 IM UK on 2017-07-16 16

TOP 10 Run-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Run-Rated Male Athletes

While Jan Frodeno continues to be the top ranked runner, Patrik Nelson (new #2, up from #7) and Bart Aernouts (new #3, up from #6) have climbed the ranks.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Jan Frodeno GER 02:46:22 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 8
2 Patrik Nilsson SWE 02:48:11 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 8
3 Bart Aernouts BEL 02:48:56 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 11
4 David McNamee GBR 02:48:59 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 6
5 Matt Hanson USA 02:49:11 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 10
6 Alessandro Degasperi ITA 02:49:48 IM Lanzarote on 2017-05-20 8
7 Viktor Zyemtsev UKR 02:51:13 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 19
8 Jeff Symonds CAN 02:51:16 IM Germany on 2017-07-09 7
9 Ivan Rana ESP 02:51:25 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 12
10 Diego Van Looy BEL 02:51:33 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4

TOP 10 Run-Rated Female Athletes

No changes for Rinny in the #1 spot, but Kaisa is now ranked #2 after Daniela was struggling a bit towards the end of the marathon in Roth. Lisa Roberts has improved her rating running 2:56 in Roth, while Rachel Joyce is back among the best runners after her win in Boulder.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 02:57:04 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
2 Kaisa Sali FIN 03:03:27 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4
3 Daniela Ryf SUI 03:03:35 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 10
4 Kristin Moeller GER 03:04:06 IM Cairns on 2017-06-11 22
5 Lisa Roberts USA 03:04:59 Challenge Roth on 2017-07-09 16
6 Eva Wutti AUT 03:05:01 IM Austria on 2017-07-02 7
7 Kelly Williamson USA 03:05:11 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 15
8 Ruth Brennan Morrey USA 03:06:42 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 4
9 Susie Cheetham GBR 03:07:14 IM Brasil on 2017-05-28 6
10 Rachel Joyce GBR 03:07:22 IM Boulder on 2017-06-11 17
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Kona Qualifying Before the Last July Races

This post looks at Kona Qualifying before the remaining July races:

Date Type Race Points
23-Jul IM Ironman Lake Placid – MPRO ONLY P-2000
23-Jul IM Ironman France P-2000
23-Jul 70.3 70.3 Calgary P-500
30-Jul IM Ironman Switzerland P-2000
30-Jul 70.3 70.3 Ecuador P-750
30-Jul IM Ironman Canada – WPRO ONLY P-2000

The following assessments are built on the available start lists posted by Ironman and assume that there are not going to be any late entries. For both male and the female qualifying, no one racing in Calgary is able to affect qualifying.

If you want to stay up-to-date on Kona Pro qualifying, please subscribe to the KPR Observer – I send out regular email updates analyzing the latest developments, and for the remainder of the qualifying season it’s available at a reduced price of 19$.

Women’s Qualifying

There are 28 Kona points slots (not counting the Automatic Qualifiers) for the female Pros in July. (There will be another 7 in August.) The following table lists the athletes currently occupying the last qualifying slots:

Rank Athlete Points Races Comments
21 Corbin, Linsey 4725 2+2 (1900/320) also registered for IM Canada
22 Hauschildt, Melissa 4700 1+1
23 Grohmann, Katharina 4470 3+1 (960/140) also registered for 70.3 Ecuador
24 Brandon, Lauren 4425 2+2 (1600/515)
25 Abraham, Corinne 4400 3+1 (960/240)
26 McCauley, Jocelyn 4385 3+0 (385/0)
Kessler, Meredith 4265 3+1 (235/750) Going to decline (pregnant)
27 Luxford, Annabel 4230 1+2 (960/1500) also registered for IM France
28 Chura, Haley 4180 1+2 (2890/540)

As you can see, I’m not counting Meredith Kessler as she is pregnant and will decline her slot. This also assumes that Lucy Gossage is going to decline her slot as she has said numerous times. (The “formal declines” can only happen after the end of July qualifying when Ironman asks athletes to accept their slots.)

With these reasonable assumptions, Haley Chura currently occupies the last qualifying slot with 4.180 points. (She has the same number of points as Kristin Möller but has the better tie-breaker top score.) The following table lists what each of the athletes that can still catch her will need, even if that is not necessarily enough for securing a slot (i.e. even if one can pass Haley, there can still be others that further leap ahead).

Athlete Points Races Registered for Needs
Bartlett, Nikki 4055 3+1 (855/640) IM France, but unlikely to race 3rd
Lester, Carrie 3535 1+1 IM France 5th
Mack, Danielle 3450 3+0 (170/0) IM Canada 4th
Li, Shiao-yu 3145 3+1 (540/320) IM Switzerland 2nd
Joyce, Rachel 3140 1+2 (2000/220) IM Canada 3rd
Elmore, Malindi 3130 2+2 (1070/140) IM Canada 3rd
Holst, Tine 3035 3+1 (340/400) IM Switzerland 2nd
Schaerer, Celine 3000 3+1 (515/345) IM Switzerland 1st
DiMichele Miller, Leslie 2905 3+1 (230/220) IM Canada 2nd

Men’s Qualifying

There are 40 Kona points slots (not counting the Automatic Qualifiers) for the male Pros in July. (There will be another 10 in August.) Here are the male Pros in the last qualifying ranks:

Rank Athlete Points Races Comments
27 Plese, David 3775 3+1 (960/785) also registered for IM Switzerland
28 Duelsen, Marc 3765 3+1 (540/540)
29 Vinhal, Thiago 3740 2+1 also registered for 70.3 Ecuador
30 Rana, Ivan 3740 2+2 (30/45)
31 Kotshegarov, Kirill 3710 3+0 (340/0)
32 Kastelein, Nick 3690 1+2 (1280/640) also registered for IM Switzerland
33 Thomas, Jesse 3420 2+2 (1100/400) also registered for 70.3 Ecuador
34 Molinari, Giulio 3395 3+1 (720/750)
35 Colucci, Reinaldo 3390 1+2 (2455/435) also registered for 70.3 Ecuador
36 Fox, Michael 3355 3+1 (405/320)
37 Tohara, Kaito 3330 3+1 (230/220) also registered for IM France
38 McMahon, Brent 3170 2+2 (340/605) also registered for IM Lake Placid
39 Evoe, Patrick 3163 3+1 (8/540)  also registered for 70.3 Ecuador
40 Wiltshire, Harry 3085 2+2 (305/280) also registered for IM Switzerland

Currently Harry Wiltshire occupies the last qualifying slot, but it’s safe to assume that some are going to score and more than 3.085 points will be needed. The following table lists athletes that can get to at least 3.300 points and the results needed for that:

Athlete Points Races Registered for Needs
Wild, Ruedi (Not Validated) 3310 1+2 (340/540) IM Switzerland Finish
Fontana, Daniel 2860 2+2 (515/135) IM France, IM Switzerland 5th
Croneborg, Fredrik 2820 1+2 (2000/320) IM France 6th
Sapunov, Daniil 2710 3+1 (685/345) IM Switzerland 3rd
Degasperi, Alessandro 2690 2+1 IM France, IM Switzerland 5th
Weiss, Michael 2665 3+1 (235/750) IM Lake Placid 4th
Van Berkel, Jan 2475 1+2 (2090/145) IM Switzerland 4th
Chrabot, Matt 2460 1+2 (1600/220) IM Lake Placid 4th
Chevrot, Denis 2450 2+2 (340/640) IM France 3rd
Leiferman, Chris 2420 1+2 (1280/500) IM Lake Placid 4th
Llanos, Eneko 2165 3+1 (215/10) IM France 2nd
Wurf, Cameron 1925 3+1 (40/35) IM France, IM Switzerland 2nd
Tollakson, TJ 1860 1+2 (1280/180) IM Lake Placid 2nd
Graves, Philip 1850 3+1 (5/220) IM Switzerland 2nd
Koutny, Philipp 1680 3+1 (170/140) IM Switzerland 1st
Zyemtsev, Viktor 1675 1+2 (1280/115) IM France 1st
Hovgaard, Esben 1565 3+1 (290/195) IM Switzerland 1st
Santos, Fellipe 1435 1+2 (855/180) IM Switzerland 1st
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On the Relative Importance of Legs in Long Distance Triathlon

Triathlon’s combination of three different sports creates dynamic races. Comparing to single sport endurance events such as marathon running, you have to account for the strengths and weaknesses in each of the legs. While you can be pretty sure that the winner of a marathon will be close to the front after 30k, things are more complicated for a triathlon. The T2 leader is in a great position to win the race, but stronger runners keep the race interesting for much longer, and often big events are decided very close to the finish line – just think back to Kona 2014 when Mirinda Carfrae was able to win the race even after being more than 15 minutes behind in T2.

There has been a lot of discussion about the “most important” leg in a triathlon. In addition to getting the balance right, it’s still interesting to ask if long-distance triathlon favors the stronger bike riders (that will still need to have a decent run) or if everything is decided on the run and the strong runners just have to make sure to not fall too far behind on run.

This post discusses this issue from a statistical view point. I have analyzed Pro race results from 2005 to 2016, looking at more than 500 male and female races with a decent number of results from almost 300 Ironman and Challenge events over the IM-distance. For each of these I have calculated the “relative importance” of each of the legs with a statistics package. The concept of relative importance describes where the race is decided – not necessarily where the most time is spent or where the largest differences occur, but which leg matters most for the final outcome.

Examples and Averages

Here are a few examples where one of the legs had a very large influence on the race results:

  • 2015 Female Race at IM Cairns (Swim Importance: 40%)
    This race was basically decided after the swim. Liz Blatchford built a gap of more three and a half minutes to her competitors. She went on to post the best run and bike times as well, but the gaps were smaller than on the swim. Similarly, the order of athletes behind her didn’t change much after the swim, for example Gina Crawford was second in T1 and had the second best bike and run.
    It’s quite rare for the swim to be the deciding leg, there were only five races (out of more than 500 or less than 1%) where the swim was the most important leg.
  • 2014 Male Race at IM Hawaii (Bike Importance: 55%)
    In 2014 the men’s Kona winner was Sebastian Kienle – he built a dominating lead on the bike that he was able to hold on to during the run. Behind him there were a few shuffles on the run, but other than a few athletes “exploding” on the run the time differences were quite small.
  • 2016 Male Race at IM Hawaii (Run Importance: 69%)
    Last year’s male Kona race was wide open until the run: A group of seven athletes were leading into T2 less than a minute apart. Six of these finished in the Top 7 in the end, with the time differences on the run pretty much determining the order athletes finished. Only Patrick Lange managed to climb into the Top 7 – on the back of a new Kona run course record.

Another typical scenario is that there isn’t a dominating leg but that the bike and run have almost the same importance. Here’s an example from Kona:

  • 2013  Female Race at IM Hawaii (Bike Importance 43%, Run Importance 42%)
    The Top 5 women had almost the same bike splits: Yvonne Van Vlerken was the fastest with a 4:54, slowest among the Top 5 was Mirinda Carfrae with a 4:58 which was still the seventh fastest bike time – the fast bike times allowed them to separate from the rest of the field or make up lost ground after a slower swim. The top finishers also had pretty similar run times just above three hours with four of the five fastest runs among them, solidifying their positions at the front – exceptions were the winner Mirinda Carfrae with a 2:50 and fifth place Caroline Steffen with a 3:11.
The overall average numbers for the importance of each of the legs are:
  • 16% for the Swim
  • 39% for the Bike
  • 45% for the Run

Changes over the Years

While the leg contribution in a single race is often shaped by the participants, race tactics and dynamics, the average data by years shows a long term trend:

LegContributionYears

The graph above shows that the relative importance of the swim has increased in previous years but is still at under 20%. Similarly, the importance of the bike has been increasing, it is approaching the importance of the run. The run is still still the most important leg but with a smaller margin now than ten years ago. In fact 2015 has been the first year where I observed the bike on average being more important than the leg.

What’s the relevance of this data? Here’s my interpretation of it:

  • The increased importance of the swim shows that at the top level of our sport you have to be a good swimmer as well. This confirms the points that Tim Floyd and I made in our post “The Cost of the Kona Swim” for LavaMagazine.
  • It gets more and more important to be able to follow a fast bike with a fast run. In the past, the faster bike riders have always struggled a bit on the run, in order for them to be successful they can no longer afford to lose too much time on the run.
  • For the faster runners it’s the other way around: For them to be successful they can’t be too far behind in T2 – which means that they have to ride more aggressively, even if this ends up hurting their run times a bit.

I think this interpretation is supported by the development of race times we’ve seen in the last few years: For a while male athletes struggled to balance the bike and run. In 2013 we’ve seen a number of 2:40 runs: Bart Aernouts (at IM France) and Victor Del Corral (at IM Florida) ran 2:37 marathons.In 2015 there were some crazy fast bike times, for example IM Texas saw two great bike splits with a 4:10 by Joe Skipper and a 4:11 by Lionel Sanders, but they only ran 3:04 and 3:11 and the race was won by Matt Hanson with a 2:45 run. In 2016 athletes were much better at getting the balance right: A world record by Jan Frodeno (7:35 at Roth with a 4:08 bike and 2:39 run) and the fastest time in an Ironman-branded race by Lionel Sanders (7:44 at Arizona with a 4:04 and 2:42).

Differences between Courses

Another question that is often asked is which courses favor certain types of athletes.

As noted above, the swim has a relatively small contribution to the overall result, but there are still some noticeable differences between different courses:

SwimContribution

Kona is actually the course with the lowest average swim contribution. I think this is mainly caused by a relatively evenly matched field, and everyone tries to stay with the front group as long as possible, usually resulting in relatively large front groups coming out with very small differences. Compare that to IM Germany, IM Western Australia or IM Copenhagen, where often the swim leader manages to create a gap and then goes on to win the race. Think of Jan Frodeno in Germany 2015, Luke McKenzie at Western Australia 2015 or Camilla Pedersen at IM Copenhagen 2012.

Another question that is asked is which courses are good for the strong bike riders and which favor the faster runners. The following graph shows the average difference between the bike and run contribution for the courses with a decent amount of data:

BikeVsRun

If the bar goes to the left and into the red, the bike leg has a higher contribution, if it goes to the right and into the green, then the run is more important. Also, the longer the bar the larger the difference is. IM Wales is the best course for the strong bike riders (with the bike leg contributing 20% more to the final result than the run), while Western Australia clearly favors the runners (run contribution 19% larger than the bike).

Summary

Analyzing the importance of the swim, bike and run in long distance Pro races shows a couple of interesting points:

  • Each race has different participants creating different race dynamics, influencing where important things happen in the race, averages help to identify differences between courses.
  • While the swim and bike are getting more and more important, the leg with the largest contribution to the final result is still the run.
  • For most courses the contribution is between 13 and 18%, only very few have a swim importance slightly above 20%.
  • With Ironman Wales and Challenge Wanka there are only two courses that clearly favor the bike leg (bike contribution more than 5% higher than the run contribution).
  • Conversely, there are 12 courses favoring the run, the run legs at IM Wisconsin and IM Western Australia showing the largest difference.

While the analysis presented in this post is based on Pro data, the conclusions about the courses seem to be properties of the courses rather than the fields racing the course. Therefore, they should apply to agegroupers as well and can be used as a general guideline to decide which course might favor the strengths of a particular athlete.

But even with the differences between courses affecting the importance of the legs, triathlon is truly a sport of its own: You can only do well if you are great in each of the three legs. The interaction between the disciplines makes triathlon such an interesting sport to follow and to participate in.

Updates to the Top10 Ratings

After the first round of 2017 Ironman races, here are the updated Top 10 Ratings. If you compare the “old” ratings to the new ones, you will notice that the numbers have slightly changed even for athletes that have note raced. This is caused by a small improvement in my algorithm that reduces an undue influence of older results for athletes that have a large number of races from more than three years ago.

TOP 10 Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Rated Male Athletes

Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle are still my top ranked athletes. Nils Frommhold (having finished second in South Africa) has climbed back to third, very slightly ahead of Brent McMahon. Other changes are a result of the racing we have seen in 2017: Ben Hoffman entering the Top 10 after his sub-8 win in South Africa, and Marino and Frederik dropping back after a DNF and a sub-par race.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Jan Frodeno GER 07:59:19 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 7
2 Sebastian Kienle GER 08:08:32 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 13
3 Nils Frommhold GER 08:16:05 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
4 Brent McMahon CAN 08:16:06 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 7
5 Andi Boecherer GER 08:17:13 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
6 Andy Potts USA 08:17:26 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 16
7 Patrik Nilsson SWE 08:19:21 IM Barcelona on 2016-10-02 7
8 Ben Hoffman USA 08:21:15 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 18
9 Marino Vanhoenacker BEL 08:21:27 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 21
10 Frederik Van Lierde BEL 08:21:52 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 21

TOP 10 Rated Female Athletes

For the females, the Top 4 have not changed: Daniela, Rinny, Kaisa and Heather are still the best-rated athletes. New athletes in the Top 10 are Meredith Kessler (new #5, third in New Zealand and also benefitting from the algorithm changes), Susie Cheetham (new #6, third place in South Africa after a Kona DNF) and Linsey Corbin (#10, slightly climbing with the changes).

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Daniela Ryf SUI 08:42:49 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
2 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 09:01:36 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
3 Kaisa Lehtonen FIN 09:09:12 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4
4 Heather Jackson USA 09:12:39 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 6
5 Meredith Kessler USA 09:14:01 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 25
6 Susie Cheetham GBR 09:14:17 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 5
7 Melissa Hauschildt AUS 09:15:51 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 4
8 Lucy Gossage GBR 09:15:55 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
9 Anja Beranek GER 09:16:56 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 8
10 Linsey Corbin USA 09:18:58 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 20

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

The Swim Ratings are mainly a very slight re-ordering of the end of 2016 ratings. The two notable changes are  Clayton Fettell who has entered the Top 10 male ranking in #2 and Annabel Luxford who is #8 in the female ranking.

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Male Athletes

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Dylan McNeice NZL 00:45:41 Challenge Taiwan on 2016-05-07 14
2 Clayton Fettell AUS 00:46:23 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 6
3 Jan Frodeno GER 00:46:52 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 7
4 Andy Potts USA 00:47:00 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 16
5 Marko Albert EST 00:47:03 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 17
6 Denis Chevrot FRA 00:47:20 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 9
7 Terenzo Bozzone NZL 00:47:30 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 11
8 Michael Fox AUS 00:47:30 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 3
9 Barrett Brandon USA 00:47:32 IM Cozumel on 2016-11-27 5
10 Timothy O’Donnell USA 00:47:37 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 13

TOP 10 Swim-Rated Female Athletes

Jodie is still my top-ranked athlete, but Lauren Brandon (as last year’s IM Texas was shortened, she only has two valid full IM finishes) and Lucy Charles (with one Pro finish) are likely to take over the #1 rank from her.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Jodie Cunnama GBR 00:49:34 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 9
2 Meredith Kessler USA 00:50:34 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 25
3 Amanda Stevens USA 00:51:17 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 18
4 Celine Schaerer SUI 00:51:19 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 7
5 Mary Beth Ellis USA 00:51:31 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 19
6 Leanda Cave GBR 00:51:46 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 20
7 Daniela Ryf SUI 00:51:52 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
8 Annabel Luxford AUS 00:52:00 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 4
9 Anja Beranek GER 00:52:15 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 8
10 Alicia Kaye USA 00:52:18 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 3

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Male Athletes

After not finishing an Ironman race for more than a year, Andy Starykowicz posted a record-breaking 4:01 bike leg at IM Texas, allowing him to reclaim the top spot in the rankings. Cameron Wurf has entered the Top 10 in #3 after being first off the bike at IM South Africa.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Andrew Starykowicz USA 04:22:41 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 7
2 Sebastian Kienle GER 04:26:18 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 13
3 Cameron Wurf AUS 04:26:25 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 3
4 Dougal Allan NZL 04:30:36 Challenge Wanaka on 2017-02-18 7
5 Michael Weiss AUT 04:30:45 IM Cozumel on 2016-11-27 16
6 Jan Frodeno GER 04:31:05 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 7
7 Andi Boecherer GER 04:31:23 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
8 Lionel Sanders CAN 04:32:01 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 6
9 Nils Frommhold GER 04:32:30 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
10 Marino Vanhoenacker BEL 04:33:39 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 21

TOP 10 Bike-Rated Female Athletes

There is one new athlete in the Top 10: After a DNF in Kona Tine Deckers has posted the third best bike split at IM Texas and re-entered the Top 10. Other than that there is only a slight re-ordering of the 2016 rankings.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Daniela Ryf SUI 04:55:11 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
2 Anja Beranek GER 05:01:54 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 8
3 Heather Jackson USA 05:03:54 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 6
4 Jodie Cunnama GBR 05:04:50 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 9
5 Annabel Luxford AUS 05:05:46 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 4
6 Tine Deckers BEL 05:06:29 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 17
7 Diana Riesler GER 05:06:38 IM Malaysia on 2016-11-12 16
8 Lucy Gossage GBR 05:06:38 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
9 Mary Beth Ellis USA 05:06:41 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 19
10 Yvonne Van Vlerken NED 05:06:43 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 25

TOP 10 Run-Rated Ironman Distance Athletes

TOP 10 Run-Rated Male Athletes

The athletes that have entered the Top 10 have all had great results at the start of the 2017 season: David McNamee (#3 after 2:45 at IM South Africa), Matt Hanson (#4 after 2:42 at IM Texas), Diego Van Looy (#9 after 2:51 at IM South Africa) and Cameron Brown (#10 after 2:42 at IM New Zealand).

Patrick Lange doesn’t have a valid rating yet – his only “full” IM was IM Hawaii (he qualified at the shortened IM Texas). But his run course record in Kona indicates that he will be well placed in the Top 10 once he has finished the required three valid IMs.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Jan Frodeno GER 02:45:34 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 7
2 Jeff Symonds CAN 02:47:53 IM Western Australia on 2016-12-04 7
3 David McNamee GBR 02:48:59 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 6
4 Matt Hanson USA 02:49:11 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 10
5 Ivan Rana ESP 02:49:21 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 11
6 Bart Aernouts BEL 02:49:24 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 9
7 Patrik Nilsson SWE 02:49:40 IM Barcelona on 2016-10-02 7
8 Jesse Thomas USA 02:51:17 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 3
9 Diego Van Looy BEL 02:51:33 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4
10 Cameron Brown NZL 02:51:41 IM New Zealand on 2017-03-04 28

TOP 10 Run-Rated Female Athletes

With a slower run in South Africa, Kristin Möller has dropped to fifth place, while Daniela Ryf has climbed into #2 and continued to improve her rating. Ruth Brennan Morrey benefitted from the algorithm change and is now in #9.

Rank Name Nation Rating Last Race # IM Races
1 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 02:57:04 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 14
2 Daniela Ryf SUI 03:02:31 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 9
3 Kaisa Lehtonen FIN 03:03:27 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 4
4 Kelly Williamson USA 03:04:45 IM Texas on 2017-04-22 14
5 Kristin Moeller GER 03:05:16 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 20
6 Beth Gerdes USA 03:05:29 IM Australia on 2016-05-01 12
7 Lisa Roberts USA 03:05:58 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 15
8 Susie Cheetham GBR 03:06:12 IM South Africa on 2017-04-02 5
9 Ruth Brennan Morrey USA 03:06:42 IM Arizona on 2016-11-20 4
10 Linsey Corbin USA 03:07:27 IM Hawaii on 2016-10-08 20

Strength of Field

One of the questions I’m often asked is how the fields in a races compares to that of another race (or year) and which one was stronger. I have tried a few different approaches but couldn’t quite figure out how to account for “super stars” in a race and at the same time for the “depth” of the field or “how close” the race is going to be.

As there are no races this weekend I’ve taken another stab at this question. This time I have come up with a relatively simple system that nonetheless yields some good results. This post contains a description of the system, my analysis of the strength for the 2016 IM-distance races and a look forward to the 2017 races.

Points System

For each athlete in a race, I’m assigning a simple points value:

  • 1 point for each athlete that has raced the previous Kona race (so for the 2016 races athletes that have raced Kona 2015),
  • 0.5 points for each athlete that hasn’t raced the previous Kona race but the year before (so for the 2016 races athletes that haven’t raced Kona 2015 but Kona 2014),
  • 0.5 points for each athlete that hasn’t raced Kona the two previous years but who has a rating that places them in the Top 50 (for new promising athletes that haven’t had a chance to race Kona yet, athletes that have declined their Kona slot or athletes that decided to focus on other races).

Based on this scheme, each athlete counts for either a full, a half or no points. (Because Ironman still keeps the female Kona Pro field smaller than the male field, this leads to lower scores for the female fields. I will adjust for this inequality when comparing each field against the typical Kona field in the next section.)

In addition, there are bonus points for having done well in Kona in the past:

  • 1 bonus point for an athlete that has won Kona in the past
  • 0.5 points for an athlete that has finished on the podium in Kona before

For example, Frederik Van Lierde or Daniela Ryf count for two points in the 2016 races: One point because they have raced Kona 2015 (no “extra” points for having raced there in 2014 as well), and one bonus point as they have won Kona (regardless of how often or how long in the past).

Of course you could make this a lot more complicated by coming up with additional points and bonus points for other things, but for now I consider this simple system to be “good enough”.

Comparing Against Kona

The first observation is how much stronger Kona is compared to all the other races:

  • After the introduction of the KPR (limiting the Pro field sizes), the female Kona fields have about 40 points (2016: 40.5 points), the male fields around 55 points (2016: 56.5 points). This is pretty consistent with the number of slots (females: 35 plus 5 Regional Champs, male: 50 plus 5), so you the typical “turnover” (new athletes qualifying for Kona) is offset by the previous winners and podium finishers.
  • Even the strongest non-Kona IM-distance races start have a score of less than 20 points – the 2016 race with the most points was the male field at IM Germany with 17.5 points.

In order to account for the different points available for male and female fields, I calculate a “Kona Strength” for each male and female race by dividing their points by the “typical” Kona points (40 for the females and 55 for the males).

Based on this simple scaling, the strongest 2016 fields were:

  • for the males: IM Germany at 32% Kona strength (results)
  • for the females: IM New Zealand at 25% Kona strength (results)
This “scaling” also creates a meaningful interpretation of the strength  of a field: For IM Germany it means that roughly a third of the male Kona field was racing in Frankfurt, and about a quarter of the female Kona field in New Zealand.

Male Races

Here’s a closer look at the strength for the 2016 long distance male fields:

MenStrength

(Regular Ironman races are shown in blue, Regional Championships in green and Challenge races and the ITU long-distance championship in yellow.)

For the men the best fields are racing in the Regional Championships: IM Germany, IM Texas, IM South Africa and IM Cairns have had the four best 2016 fields (Kona strength between 32% and 25%). IM Brasil wasn’t quite on a similar level, but 15% Kona strength is still better than almost all other “regular” Ironman races.

Challenge Roth (16%) and the ITU Long Distance Champs (15%) also had strong fields while some of the smaller IMs weren’t able to generate much interest among Kona level athletes.

Female Races

Here’s a closer look at the strength for the 2016 long distance female fields:

FemaleStrength

(As for the men, regular Ironman races are shown in blue, Regional Championships in green and Challenge races and the ITU long-distance championship in yellow.)

Interestingly, the strongest field of the year (of course outside of Kona) wasn’t in a Regional Championship but at IM New Zealand – lots of Kona racers started their season early in the year, and Mareen Hufe finished in 7th place with a time of 9:16 – a time usually good enough to win the race or at least finish on the podium. For more details on New Zealand, have a look at my results analysis.

Most of the Regional Championships were able to draw strong fields: South Africa, Brasil and Germany had a Kona strength between 20% and 16%, and only Cairns (with a relatively small field) fell off a bit with 9%. Challenge Roth had a female field comparable to the Ironman Regional Championships, their 2016 female field (18% Kona strength) was slightly stronger than the field in Frankfurt.

2017 Races

The first long-distance races of this year have already been raced, and while the fields at Challenge Wanaka had similar Kona strength as last year, IM New Zealand wasn’t quite able to hold on to their great field strength from last year: The female field was at 18% and the male field at 12%. It seems that the strong 2016 fields led to some athletes making different plans for this season.

With the start lists for the first 2017 races, we can calculate the Kona strength of the fields:

  • Ironman South Africa (start lists and seedings): female Kona strength: 40%, male Kona strength: 37%
  • Ironman Texas (entry lists): female Kona strength: 24%, male Kona strength: 32%

Of course the fields and the corresponding numbers are still preliminary (for example not all the athletes registered for both races will do Texas if South Africa isn’t a complete disaster, also the Texas list isn’t closed yet). But the South Africa number seems quite firm and if they end up anywhere close to where they are now, the fields would already be stronger than for any race in 2016. I can’t wait for the racing season to start!

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