Kona Migration Charts – Where are they coming from, where are they going to?

Note: This is a slightly expanded version of a section from my free Kona Rating Report that contains a lot more “geeky” views and details for this year’s Kona Pro fields. (You can get your copy here.)

When analyzing the results of the previous races in Kona, a few interesting “patterns” emerge on how results change from year to year. While these pattern are in no way certain, they still offer some insights on what to expect from year to year. The graphs show where athletes that win the race (or finish on the podium or between 4th and 10th) have finished the year before and where they have finished the year after.

Winners

Here’s a graph showing how the winners fared from one year to year:

Winners

A couple of observations:

  • 17 of the last 20 winners came from the Top 4 in the previous year. Two more were winners two years ago and hadn’t finished (McCormack 2008 to 09) or started the year before (Wellington 2009 to 10).
  • Only Chrissie Wellington won in 2007 on her first race in Kona.
  • 6 of the winners finish on the podium the year after winning, four more in the Top 10.
  • Half of the winners either finish outside of the Top 10, don’t finish the race or don’t start the race (because of last minute sickness or because they ended their career).

Podium

“Kona Podium” is one of the big career goals for Iron-distance triathletes, it’s often seen as a stepping stone to winning the race. Here’s a look at this segment:

Podium

Developments in the podium from year to year:

  • Only slightly more than a third of the podium is able to repeat from year to year.
  • With 25% the next biggest group of those finishing on the podium is coming from the athletes that haven’t raced Kona the year before.
  • Having finished on the podium, it’s about as likely to finish on the podium or off the podium (either 4th to 10th or Outside the Top10) when you are able to start and finish the race.

Fourth to Tenth

Another very interesting segment is the athletes that finish in the Top 10 but not on the podium (4th to 10th place):

4To10

Some patterns:

  • About a third of the athletes between 4th and 10th place have finished there in the year before (2.4 of 7 athletes per race).
  • About a quarter haven’t raced in the previous year (2 athletes per race).
  • Only a fifth have finished outside of the Top 10 in the previous year (1.3 athletes per race).
  • Though a Top 10 finish is an important waypoint to the podium, only very few athletes manage to take this step the next year (0.6 athletes per race).
  • About a third fall out of the Top 10 in the next race (2.3 per race)
  • A quarter isn’t able to finish or even to start the race in the following year (1.3 and 0.4 athletes per race).

What would it mean for this year?

Before going into some details, it’s important to note that this statistic is just that – an observation about what happened in the past, and not a “prediction” of what will happen this year. Nonetheless, one can build some interesting speculations on these migration charts.

Winners

19 of the last 20 winners came from either first to fourth from the previous year or the winner two years before (who DNF’d or DNS’d). This would produce a short list of the following potential winners for this year:

  • Men: Jan Frodeno, Andreas Raelert, Tim O’Donnell, Andy Potts and probably also Sebastian Kienle (who was 9th last year but the champion two years ago)
  • Women: Daniela Ryf, Michelle Vesterby and Miranda Carfrae

Podium

One can also “construct” a list of podium contenders based on the “typical” migration from one year to another – there’s usually one athlete from the podium the year before, one athlete that finished off the podium and one athlete who didn’t finish/race the year before. Especially for the second and third category the list of potential podium candidates get quite large very quickly – I’ll just mention a few “very obvious” candidates, but the list can’t be exhaustive (and I probably missed at least one more obvious candidate in each category)!

  • Men
    • Podium: Jan Frodeno, Andreas Raelert, or Tim O’Donnell
    • Off the Podium: Andy Potts, Sebastian Kienle, Brent McMahon, Frederik Van Lierde
    • DNF/DNS: Luke McKenzie, Will Clarke, David Dellow, Jesse Thomas, Patrick Lange
  • Women
    • Podium: Daniela Ryf (a very short list as Rachel Joyce and Liz Blatchford are not returning this year)
    • Off the Podium: Michelle Vesterby, Heather Jackson, Susie Cheetham, Sarah Piampiano, Liz Lyles
    • DNS/DNF: Miranda Carfrae, Jodie Swallow, Julia Gajer, Mel Hauschildt, Yvonne Van Vlerken, Carrie Lester, Kaisa Lehtonen
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