Top Kona Nations – The Full Story

After this year’s Kona race a lot of posts focus on the “German Podium Sweep” – not all of them (including one of my tweets) made it sufficiently clear that this “sweep” only refers to the male side.

Kona2016FemalePodium 1

(Photo: Kona 2016 Podium, Credit Jay Prasuhn)

Here’s a fuller look at the nationality of top Kona finishers using the following parameters:

  • Pro Category only (as soon as that’s relevant as early Kona races didn’t distinguish “elite” and different age groups)
  • Overall and split for male and female athletes
  • Winners and Podium (Top 3) finishers
  • “All Results” (all Kona races since February 1978) and “modern” races since 1996 (1995 was the last year that both the male and female winner were from the US)

Winners

Here’s the breakdown of the nations of all male and female Kona winners from the first race in February 1978 to October 2016 – all in all 40 male and 39 female winners:

AllWins

The only “triathlon exotic” country in the list is Zimbabwe, that is due to Paula Newby-Frazer racing for Zimbabwe until 1992 for five titles, she won another three when racing for the USA afterwards (according to the Wikipedia article on the Ironman World Championship).

The USA is still the clear leader in overall wins. That changes however when you only look at the winners since 1996:

Wins1996

Australia has the most wins since 1996, closely followed by Switzerland, Germany and Canada.

While Australia has a relatively even split between male and female wins (6 male to 4 female wins), all Swiss wins are from the female side:

FemaleWins1996

In contrast to that all German wins are on the male side:

MaleWins1996

Podium Finishers

There is a similar development when looking at podium finishes (total 234, 120  male and 114 on the female side as early years didn’t fill all podium spots). The US still has the most overall podium finishers :

AllPodiums

The “Other” category includes Brasil 6, Finland 3, Netherlands 2, Spain 2, and France, Denmark and Chile with one each.

The US is no longer in the top spot if you look at Kona races since 1996:

Podiums1996

Since 1996 Germany has had the most podium spots, with the “German dudes” dominating the male podium spots:

MalePodiums1996

On the female side it’s a pretty close race between Australia with 14 podium finishers, Switzerland with 13, Canada with 11 and the UK with 10:

FemalePodiums1996

2 Responses to Top Kona Nations – The Full Story

  1. Kelly October 20, 2016 at 8:17 am #

    Why do you think there was a decrease in US numbers post-1996?

    • Thorsten October 20, 2016 at 8:49 am #

      I think part of it can be explained by two factors:

      1. The end (or at least tail-end) of the career of the two Ironman legends Dave Scott and Mark Allen
      2. The internationals finally catching up to the US athletes

      However, this does not fully explain the small number of US wins/podiums, normally one would expect them to play a similar role to Australians or Germans. So there is still a lot of room for speculation/discussion!

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