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Fastest Times & Best Performances 2019 – Part 1: Swim

Male Professionals

TOP 10 Swim Times of 2019

without current-assisted swim courses

Rank Name Nation Actual Time Race
1 Thomas Davis GBR 00:43:38 Challenge Anhui on 2019-10-20
2 Alexander Berggren SWE 00:43:50 IM Sweden on 2019-08-17
3 Lukasz Wojt GER 00:44:30 IM Italy on 2019-09-21
4 Matt Franklin NZL 00:44:44 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
5 Denis Chevrot FRA 00:44:44 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
6 Clayton Fettell AUS 00:44:46 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
7 Mark Bowstead NZL 00:44:47 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
8 James Davy AUS 00:44:48 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
9 Tim Reed AUS 00:44:53 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
10 Mathias Lyngsoe Petersen DEN 00:45:27 IM Sweden on 2019-08-17

As noted above, these times are without potentially current-assisted swims. This year, the fastest overall swim including these courses was by Tim O’Donnell with a 39:18 in Cozumel.

TOP 10 Swim Performances of 2019

Rank Name Nation Normalized Time Actual Time Race
1 Lukasz Wojt GER 00:44:59 00:45:29 IM Austria on 2019-07-07
2 Lukasz Wojt GER 00:45:32 00:44:30 IM Italy on 2019-09-21
3 Josh Amberger AUS 00:45:49 00:47:28 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
4 Jan Frodeno GER 00:45:52 00:47:31 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
5 Alistair Brownlee GBR 00:45:54 00:47:33 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
6 Daniel Baekkegard DEN 00:45:56 00:47:35 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
7 Timothy O’Donnell USA 00:45:59 00:47:38 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
8 Maurice Clavel GER 00:46:01 00:47:40 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
9 Braden Currie NZL 00:46:02 00:47:41 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
10 Jesper Svensson SWE 00:46:03 00:47:42 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12

Female Professionals

There’s no surprise that the best female swimmers in 2019 are Lauren Brandon and Lucy Charles-Barclay, but Teresa Adam is also consistently showing strong swims.

TOP 10 Swim Times of 2019

without current-assisted swim courses

Rank Name Nation Actual Time Race
1 Lauren Brandon USA 00:48:43 IM Boulder on 2019-06-09
2 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR 00:49:01 Challenge Roth on 2019-07-07
3 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR 00:49:02 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
4 Lauren Brandon USA 00:49:08 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
5 Rebecca Clarke NZL 00:49:19 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
6 Meredith Kessler USA 00:49:22 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
7 Teresa Adam NZL 00:49:24 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
8 Kelsey Withrow USA 00:49:28 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
9 Caroline Steffen SUI 00:49:32 IM Australia on 2019-05-05
10 Pamella Oliveira BRA 00:49:53 IM Brasil on 2019-05-26

As noted above, these times are without potentially current-assisted swims. This year, the fastest overall swim including these courses was by Carrie Lester with a 45:35 in Cozumel.

TOP 10 Swim Performances of 2019

Rank Name Nation Normalized Time Actual Time Race
1 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR 00:47:18 00:49:01 Challenge Roth on 2019-07-07
2 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR 00:47:20 00:49:02 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
3 Lauren Brandon USA 00:47:26 00:49:08 IM Hawaii on 2019-10-12
4 Lauren Brandon USA 00:47:29 00:48:43 IM Boulder on 2019-06-09
5 Lauren Brandon USA 00:48:59 00:49:58 IM Arizona on 2019-11-24
6 Rebecca Clarke NZL 00:49:49 00:49:19 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
7 Meredith Kessler USA 00:49:52 00:49:22 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
8 Teresa Adam NZL 00:49:54 00:49:24 IM New Zealand on 2019-03-02
9 Teresa Adam NZL 00:50:22 00:50:11 IM Cairns on 2019-06-09
10 Teresa Adam NZL 00:51:17 00:50:24 IM Western Australia on 2019-12-01

Deep Dive Into 2019 Triathlon Money List

As in past years, Challenge Family and I have been working together on their Money List that is updated and sent out almost every week during the season. They also post the current Top 50 athletes on their website. I process the race results for them, including all Ironman and 70.3 races, the Challenge racing series, the highest level of ITU racing (the “World Triathlon Series” WTS) and a couple of independent races. This post has a closer look at the different segments and some overall trends for the 2019 season. (If there’s a segment missing that you’re particularly interested, please let me know and I’ll amend this post.)


First, here is an overview of the races that are included in the money lists and a comparison to the 2018 season. The total is shown in US$, for races that paid their prize purse in a different currency the amounts have been converted into US$.

Type Description Total Money Change to
# Races
# Athletes
Ironman WTC Ironman-branded races $2.467.000 -5,9% 32 (35) 277 (295)
70.3 WTC 70.3-branded races $2.152.750 -4,1% 71 (71) 400 (385)
Challenge Challenge-branded full and half-distance
races (incl. Bonus Pool)
$ 909.586 -18,5% 27 (29) 208 (196)
ITU ITU WTS races (incl. Bonus Pool) $2.185.000 +/- 0% 9 (9) 115 (102)
SuperLeague SuperLeague Professional Events (incl. Bonus Pool) $ 904.800 n/a 4 58
Other Port of Tauranga, ITU Long Distance Worlds, Alpe D’Huez L,
Embrun, Tokyo Test Event, Gerardmer XL, XTerra World Championships, Noosa Triathlon, Laguna Phuket Triathlon
$ 624.877 n/a 9 (12) 163 (183)
Total $9.244.013 n/a 151 (156) 769 (764)

A couple of observations:

  • The decline in prize money paid out by WTC has continued in 2019. The number of full distances races has gone down and the prize purse shrank by almost 6%. Compared to 2015 the prize money in Ironman races has gone down from more than $2.9 million, a reduction of $454.000 or more than 15% in just four years.
  • For 70.3s the number of races has stayed the same but the purses went down by more than 4% compared to last year. In 2015 there were fewer races but they paid out more than $2.4 million, a reduction of 11%.
  • Challenge money has also come down this year. The bulk of the reduction comes from their flagship race in Roth which had a one-year increase of their purse to $200.000 (supplied by the PTO in 2018) and is now back at the old level of €62.000.
  • The number of races and the prize purse in the “World Triathlon Series” has stayed the same between 2018 and 2019.
  • SuperLeague is offering a significant amount of prize money, therefore I have broken them out as a separate category for the first time this year. (They used to be listed in the “other” category.) Roughly half of their prize money is paid out based on the overall ranking in the Championship Series.
  • The races in the “Other” category are changing from year to year, therefore you can’t really compare the numbers for this category and the total money from year to year.

If you want to check out the 2018 lists, you can find them in my post “Deep Dive Into 2018 Triathlon Money List“.

Overall Money List

The overall list is dominated by athletes that have raced well in the “Big Money Races” like Kona, but with the introduction of the SuperLeague prize pool there are now better earning opportunities for the short course athletes. The 2019 list is topped by Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis, the 2019 World Champions who have also won the SuperLeague Series. The Kona winners are in fourth and fifth place, they have been passed by Lucy Charles who has also raced well in the big Challenge races.

Most of the “additional” money from SuperLeague is concentrated on a select few athletes and the money to make it into the Top 20 has only  gone up slightly: Last year  Kirsten Kasper was 20th with $73,250, this year that amount would have been good enough for 24th place.

Katie Lausanne

Photo: Katie Zaferes pushing the pace on the big leg at the WTS Grand Final in Lausanne. Credit: Tommy Zaferes

# Name Nation Sex Total Ironman 70.3 Challenge WTS SuperLeague Other
1 Katie Zaferes USA F $347,500 $197,500 $150,000
2 Vincent Luis FRA M $289,200 $143,200 $146,000
3 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR F $170,472 $90,000 $10,500 $69,972
4 Jan Frodeno GER M $158,000 $150,000 $8,000
5 Anne Haug GER F $138,000 $135,000 $3,000
6 Mario Mola ESP M $130,300 $127,300 $3,000
7 Rachel Klamer NED F $129,150 $44,150 $85,000
8 Jessica Learmonth GBR F $119,400 $119,400
9 Henri Schoeman ZAF M $115,467 $42,700 $66,200 $6,567
10 Javier Gomez ESP M $114,300 $5,000 $21,000 $78,300 $10,000
11 Sebastian Kienle GER M $102,428 $55,000 $9,000 $38,428
12 Georgia Taylor-Brown GBR F $102,200 $102,200
13 Sarah Crowley AUS F $101,783 $75,000 $15,000 $8,030 $3,753
14 Taylor Spivey USA F $101,450 $72,150 $29,300
15 Cassandre Beaugrand FRA F $100,850 $33,850 $67,000
16 Daniela Ryf SUI F $100,818 $38,000 $58,000 $4,818
17 Kristian Blummenfelt NOR M $92,700 $24,000 $51,700 $17,000
18 Gustav Iden NOR M $92,600 $45,000 $41,600 $6,000
19 Radka Kahlefeldt CZE F $91,227 $29,500 $60,334 $1,393
20 Holly Lawrence GBR F $87,000 $87,000

WTC Races

The first “subcategory” of the Money List I want to take a closer look at is the money earned in WTC races (i.e. Ironman-branded and 70.3-branded races). This list is clearly dominated by athletes that did well in the two “biggest money races”, especially Kona. As in previous years the two top spots are occupied by the Kona winners Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug. Most of the athletes on this list have made the bulk of their 2019 prize money in WTC races. Notable exceptions are Lucy Charles and Sebastian Kienle who have also made money in Challenge races and Gustav Iden who has also raced short course.

Frodo Frankfurt

Photo: Jan Frodeno on the run through the heat in Frankfurt. Credit: Ingo Kutsche

# Name Nation Sex WTC Money IM 70.3 Total Share
1 Frodeno, Jan GER M $158.000 $150.000 $8.000 $158.000 100%
2 Haug, Anne GER F $138.000 $135.000 $3.000 $138.000 100%
3 Charles-Barclay, Lucy GBR F $100.500 $90.000 $10.500 $170.472 59%
4 Ryf, Daniela SUI F $96.000 $38.000 $58.000 $100.818 95%
5 Crowley, Sarah AUS F $90.000 $75.000 $15.000 $101.783 88%
6 Lawrence, Holly GBR F $87.000 $87.000 $87.000 100%
7 O’Donnell, Timothy USA M $69.500 $64.500 $5.000 $69.500 100%
8 Hoffman, Ben USA M $68.500 $62.500 $6.000 $70.000 98%
9 Von Berg, Rodolphe USA M $67.000 $67.000 $76.177 88%
10 Kienle, Sebastian GER M $64.000 $55.000 $9.000 $102.428 62%
11 Lester, Carrie AUS F $63.750 $59.500 $4.250 $66.044 97%
12 Jackson, Heather USA F $53.750 $37.000 $16.750 $53.750 100%
13 Currie, Braden NZL M $51.000 $48.000 $3.000 $54.420 94%
14 Moench, Skye USA F $46.750 $30.000 $16.750 $46.750 100%
15 Adam, Teresa NZL F $46.000 $46.000 $46.342 99%
16 Iden, Gustav NOR M $45.000 $45.000 $92.600 49%
17 Brownlee, Alistair GBR M $43.750 $18.000 $25.750 $43.750 100%
18 Skipper, Joe GBR M $42.500 $42.500 $42.500 100%
19 Sodaro, Chelsea USA F $40.750 $40.750 $40.750 100%
20 Nilsson, Patrik SWE M $38.000 $30.000 $8.000 $38.000 100%

Ironman (outside of Kona)

When looking at a list just for Ironman races, it’s interesting to exclude Kona (as including Kona skews the rankings towards those that did well there). Without the Kona money, this list is dominated by multiple winners (or at least podium finishers), such as this year’s leader Carrie Lester, winner in France, Mont Tremblant and Cozumel.

Carrie France

Photo: Carrie Lester celebrates her win at IM France. Credit: Getty Images for Ironman

# Name Nation Sex IM Money Total Share
1 Lester, Carrie AUS F $47.000 $66.044 71%
2 Adam, Teresa NZL F $46.000 $46.342 99%
3 Hoffman, Ben USA M $40.000 $70.000 57%
4 Ryf, Daniela SUI F $38.000 $100.818 38%
5 Crowley, Sarah AUS F $35.000 $101.783 34%
6 Currie, Braden NZL M $34.000 $54.420 62%
7 Frodeno, Jan GER M $30.000 $158.000 19%
7 Charles-Barclay, Lucy GBR F $30.000 $170.472 18%
7 Moench, Skye USA F $30.000 $46.750 64%
7 Nilsson, Patrik SWE M $30.000 $38.000 79%
11 McCauley, Jocelyn USA F $27.000 $33.000 82%
12 Skipper, Joe GBR M $26.500 $42.500 62%
13 Russell, Matthew USA M $22.500 $27.438 82%
14 Butterfield, Tyler BMU M $21.500 $34.500 62%
15 Piampiano, Sarah USA F $20.500 $37.250 55%
15 Starykowicz, Andrew USA M $20.500 $37.881 54%
15 Weiss, Michael AUT M $20.500 $31.500 65%
18 Van Berkel, Tim AUS M $18.250 $32.000 57%
18 Frades Larralde, Gurutze ESP F $18.250 $19.450 94%
20 Jackson, Heather USA F $18.000 $53.750 33%
20 Brownlee, Alistair GBR M $18.000 $43.750 41%
20 Plese, David SLO M $18.000 $18.000 100%

70.3 (outside of 70.3 Championships)

Similar to the Ironman list above, leaving out the Championships shows athletes that have raced well across a number of 70.3s in the 2019 season. Most of the athletes in this list are focused on racing 70.3s. It is topped by Holly Lawrence, winner of four 2019 Regional 70.3 Championships in Dubai, St. George, Vietnam and Elsinore, and Rudolphe Von Berg, winner of three 2019 Regional Championships in St.George, Elsinore and Buenos Aires.

Holly Elsinore

Photo: Holly Lawrence on the run at 70.3 Elsinore. Credit: Getty Images for Ironman

# Name Nation Sex 70.3 Money Total Share
1 Lawrence, Holly GBR F $67.000 $87.000 77%
2 Von Berg, Rodolphe USA M $52.000 $76.177 68%
3 Sodaro, Chelsea USA F $30.750 $40.750 75%
4 Carfrae, Mirinda AUS F $29.000 $31.250 93%
5 Hering, Jacalyn USA F $24.500 $24.500 100%
6 Reed, Tim AUS M $24.250 $30.250 80%
7 Kahlefeldt, Radka CZE F $23.000 $91.227 25%
8 Laundry, Jackson CAN M $21.500 $22.819 94%
9 Pallant, Emma GBR F $21.000 $45.954 46%
10 Findlay, Paula CAN F $20.000 $25.000 80%
11 Salthouse, Ellie AUS F $19.000 $26.868 71%
12 Appleton, Sam AUS M $18.000 $26.000 69%
13 Oliveira, Pamella BRA F $17.500 $21.500 81%
14 Moench, Skye USA F $16.750 $46.750 36%
14 Piampiano, Sarah USA F $16.750 $37.250 45%
14 Jackson, Heather USA F $16.750 $53.750 31%
17 Sanders, Lionel CAN M $16.000 $27.000 59%
18 Crowley, Sarah AUS F $15.000 $101.783 15%
18 Gomez, Javier ESP M $15.000 $114.300 13%
20 Starykowicz, Andrew USA M $14.750 $37.881 39%


Usually athletes leading the Challenge money list are focused on placing well in the Challenge Bonus Pool ($ 150.000 total). But this year’s Pool winners Pieter Heemeryck and Radka Kahlefeldt are “only” in second and third place, and the overall Challenge Money List is topped by Lucy Charles who won both of the best-paying Challenge races, Challenge Samorin and Challenge Roth.

Lucy Roth

Photo: Lucy Charles smiling on Solarer Berg. Credit: Challenge Roth

# Name Nation Sex Challenge Money Total Share
1 Charles-Barclay, Lucy GBR F $69.972 $170.472 41%
2 Heemeryck, Pieter BEL M $67.282 $72.782 92%
3 Kahlefeldt, Radka CZE F $60.334 $91.227 66%
4 Bleymehl, Daniela GER F $40.631 $54.631 74%
5 McKenna, Steven AUS M $38.883 $40.883 95%
6 Kienle, Sebastian GER M $38.428 $102.428 38%
7 Dreitz, Andreas GER M $32.834 $42.584 77%
8 Roberts, Lisa USA F $28.595 $33.845 84%
9 Dapena Gonzalez, Pablo ESP M $26.652 $48.152 55%
10 Pallant, Emma GBR F $17.454 $45.954 38%
11 Guillaume, Romain FRA M $12.100 $23.654 51%
12 Curridori, Elisabetta ITA F $10.324 $11.012 94%
13 Von Berg, Rodolphe USA M $9.177 $76.177 12%
14 Wild, Ruedi SUI M $9.063 $26.313 34%
15 Trautman, Matt ZAF M $8.489 $13.489 63%
16 Van Vlerken, Yvonne NED F $8.383 $8.383 100%
17 Ippach, Anja GER F $8.259 $14.509 57%
18 Angert, Florian GER M $8.145 $19.895 41%
19 Crowley, Sarah AUS F $8.030 $101.783 8%
19 Jerzyk, Agnieszka POL F $8.030 $14.780 54%
19 Clavel, Maurice GER M $8.030 $15.030 53%
19 Svensson, Jesper SWE M $8.030 $9.280 87%


The WTS Money List is a reflection of the order of athletes in the final WTS rankings, the top athletes are this year’s champions Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis. Most of these athletes are focused on shorter distances, earning additional money in other short course races such as SuperLeague. The exceptions are Javier Gomez, Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden who have also earned some money in longer races.

Katie ITU

Photo: Katie Zaferes winning the World Triathlon Series. Credit: Wagner Araujo | ITU Media

# Name Nation Sex WTS Money Total Share
1 Zaferes, Katie USA F $197.500 $347.500 57%
2 Luis, Vincent FRA M $143.200 $289.200 50%
3 Mola, Mario ESP M $127.300 $130.300 98%
4 Learmonth, Jessica GBR F $119.400 $119.400 100%
5 Taylor-Brown, Georgia GBR F $102.200 $102.200 100%
6 Gomez, Javier ESP M $78.300 $114.300 69%
7 Spivey, Taylor USA F $69.350 $101.450 68%
8 Alarza, Fernando ESP M $65.750 $65.750 100%
9 Birtwhistle, Jake AUS M $59.450 $72.308 82%
10 Rappaport, Summer USA F $56.250 $77.150 73%
11 Blummenfelt, Kristian NOR M $51.700 $92.700 56%
12 Stanford, Non GBR F $48.200 $51.600 93%
13 Van Riel, Marten BEL M $43.150 $56.650 76%
13 Klamer, Rachel NED F $43.150 $129.150 33%
15 Schoeman, Henri ZAF M $40.800 $115.467 35%
16 Geens, Jelle BEL M $36.350 $37.350 97%
17 Iden, Gustav NOR M $35.600 $92.600 38%
18 Brownlee, Jonathan GBR M $33.300 $83.700 40%
19 Beaugrand, Cassandre FRA F $32.850 $100.850 33%
20 Bergere, Leo FRA M $31.050 $45.150 69%


This year’s SuperLeague rankings have been won by the dominating short-course athletes of the 2019 season, Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis. With the big purse for the overall rankings, this list is quite top-heavy: Katie and Vincent have been earning around $150.000 from SuperLeague, but the earnings come down quickly – tenth place Ben Kanute has earned less than $20.000. However, it should be noted that SuperLeague also pays for travel and accommodations, so being invited to race a SuperLeague event is a monetary no-risk proposition for the athletes. This is quite different from other big races such as Kona where eleventh place is a good result but you fly home empty-handed and just with large expenses.

Katie Malta

Photo: Katie Zaferes dives into one of the swim legs during SuperLeague Malta. Credit: Tommy Zaferes

# Name Nation Sex SuperLeague Total Share
1 Zaferes, Katie USA F $150.000 $347.500 43%
2 Luis, Vincent FRA M $146.000 $289.200 50%
3 Klamer, Rachel NED F $85.000 $129.150 66%
4 Beaugrand, Cassandre FRA F $67.000 $100.850 66%
5 Schoeman, Henri ZAF M $66.200 $115.467 57%
6 Brownlee, Jonathan GBR M $45.500 $83.700 54%
7 Wilde, Hayden NZL M $35.000 $70.050 50%
8 Spivey, Taylor USA F $29.300 $101.450 29%
9 Mislawchuk, Tyler CAN M $27.000 $65.850 41%
10 Kanute, Ben USA M $19.800 $39.700 50%
11 Takahashi, Yuko JPN F $18.600 $35.300 53%
12 Le Corre, Pierre FRA M $18.500 $31.450 59%
13 Blummenfelt, Kristian NOR M $17.000 $92.700 18%
14 Rappaport, Summer USA F $16.000 $77.150 21%
15 Bergere, Leo FRA M $14.100 $45.150 31%
16 Periault, Leonie FRA F $13.000 $24.950 52%
17 Gentle, Ashleigh AUS F $12.800 $44.858 29%
18 Kasper, Kirsten USA F $12.000 $14.200 85%
19 Murray, Richard ZAF M $11.700 $22.700 52%
20 Schomburg, Jonas GER M $8.900 $27.400 32%

Evaluating the New Kona Pro Qualifying System

Now that Kona Pro Qualifying has come to a close for 2019, it’s time to evaluate how the new qualifying system has worked for its first full season. This post compares the old to the new system and looks at some of the implications, giving data and evaluations on a couple of different aspects. I close with a few ideas on how to improve the current system.

Comparing the Outcomes

In order to compare the old points-based “Kona Pro Ranking” to the new slot-based system, I have applied the KPR system to the results of the 2019 racing season and looked at the resulting Kona fields. This section looks at the major differences that these two systems would have produced.

Simulating the 2019 KPR

There are a couple of details that make the comparison a bit tricky. Converting the new system to the old system is relatively straight-forward for Ironman races – the three categories of the KPR (Kona as P-8000, Regionals as P-4000, and regular IMs as P-2000) can be easily identified in the 2019 season. However, the distinction in the new system between races with just the regular two slots and the races with extra unassigned slots gets lost, but of course might have played a role in athletes deciding which race to tackle. Another small problem: For 70.3s, there have been four categories in the old KPR (Worlds as P-3000, Regionals as P-1500, and regular 70.3s as P-750 or P-500). There is no distinction between P-750 and P-500 in the new system, so I have put all of them in the P-500 category. One might do something trickier to determine the equivalents of P-750s (maybe based on which race was a P-750 in the season before), but that is unlikely to make a big difference in the overall rankings.

The following tables show the top-ranked athletes based on this simulation.

Top of the Female KPR

Rank Name Nation Points Races
AQ Ryf, Daniela SUI 17000 3+1 (2000/3000)
AQ Charles-Barclay, Lucy GBR 14400 2+2 (4000/500)
AQ Crowley, Sarah AUS 13400 3+1 (3400/1275)
1 Haug, Anne GER 11310 2+2 (2000/400)
2 True, Sarah USA 8735 2+2 (1600/135)
AQ Carfrae, Mirinda AUS 7920 2+2 (1670/500)
3 Piampiano, Sarah USA 7715 3+1 (2000/625)
4 Sali, Kaisa FIN 7460 2+1
5 Naeth, Angela CAN 6705 3+1 (960/320)
AQ Moench, Skye USA 6380 2+2 (960/500)

Daniela’s total of 17.000 is quite unbelievable and will be very hard to beat. Her total is based on her win in Kona (8.000 points), a win at the North American Regionals in Texas (4.000 points), her win at the 70.3 Champs (3.000 points) and a win at IM Austria (a “paltry” 2.000 points). Wow!

Top of the Male KPR

Rank Name Nation Points Races
AQ Currie, Braden NZL 11965 3+1 (1280/1435)
AQ Weiss, Michael AUT 11280 3+1 (2890/1290)
AQ Lange, Patrick GER 10415 2+2 (515/400)
1 Aernouts, Bart BEL 9830 2+2 (855/500)
2 Russell, Matthew USA 8715 3+1 (1670/320)
3 O’Donnell, Timothy USA 8015 2+2 (1280/400)
4 Hanson, Matt USA 7890 3+1 (2000/400)
AQ Frodeno, Jan GER 7500 1+2 (4000/500)
5 McNamee, David GBR 7395 2+1
6 Van Berkel, Tim AUS 7315 2+2 (2240/400)

Athletes Qualifying Only Under the Slot System

Here’s a table that shows the women who snagged a 2019 slot but would have been outside the Top 35 ranks in the KPR and therefore wouldn’t have qualified for Kona:

Rank Name Nation Points Races
39 Philipp, Laura GER 3000 1+2 (2000/500)
40 Derron, Nina SUI 2940 2+2 (540/400)
42 Thoes, Svenja GER 2800 1+2 (2000/400)
43 Kessler, Meredith USA 2760 3+1 (540/400)
50 Spieldenner, Jennifer USA 2560 1+2 (2000/240)
65 Riveros, Barbara CHI 2100 1+1
67 Huse, Sue CAN 2045 1+1
66 Bleymehl, Daniela GER 2000 1+0
71 Bilham, Emma SUI 2000 1+0
90 Mack, Danielle USA 1355 1+1
113 Kunz, Martina SUI 990 1+2 (720/135)

As usual, the “rank” column only looks at athletes who are “competing” for points-slots, i.e. without automatic qualifiers or those who didn’t race any full-distance Ironman races. Here’s the corresponding table for men outside the Top 50:

Rank Name Nation Points Races
55 Buckingham, Kyle ZAF 2250 2+1
56 Peterson, Kennett USA 2240 1+2 (1600/320)
57 Kraemer, Lukas GER 2225 1+1
59 Tollakson, TJ USA 2180 1+2 (1280/400)
60 Clarke, Will GBR 2155 2+1
61 Viennot, Cyril FRA 2155 2+2 (235/240)
62 Duelsen, Marc GER 2065 2+1
65 Fontana, Daniel ITA 2000 1+0
65 Hogenhaug, Kristian DEN 2000 1+0
84 Schumacher, Stefan GER 1670 1+0
89 Alonso McKernan, Clemente ESP 1600 1+0
115 Silvestrin, Frank BRA 1280 1+0

As expected, athletes who wouldn’t have qualified in a points system are those with “one big result” (winning an IM, e.g. Sue Huse who won IM Taiwan, Jen Spieldenner who won Louisville, or Kristian Hogenhaug who won IM Hamburg) or those who received a slot that rolled down quite far (e.g Martina Kunz, 5th in Hamburg, or Stefan Schuhmacher, 6th in Mar del Plata). This does not imply that these athletes don’t deserve to be in Kona – after all the system is what it is, and they probably would have raced more under a different qualifying system.

Athletes Qualifying Only Under the KPR System

Of course, there are also athletes who won’t be able to race in Kona 2019 but would have had the chance if the KPR system had still been in place. The following tables do not include athletes who didn’t qualify after declining their slots (such as Teresa Adam or Heather Wurtele):

Rank Name Nation Points Races
5 Naeth, Angela CAN 6705 3+1 (960/320)
14 Oliveira, Pamella BRA 5285 1+2 (1600/1500)
27 Duke, Dimity-Lee AUS 3975 2+2 (1280/400)
28 Watkinson, Amelia NZL 3875 1+2 (2455/500)
30 Hansen, Jennie USA 3685 3+1 (720/30)
31 Lundstroem, Asa SWE 3615 3+1 (565/240)

The same table for the male Pros:

Rank Name Nation Points Races
17 Burton, Matt AUS 5015 3+1 (960/320)
25 Wild, Ruedi SUI 3890 2+2 (1600/170)
28 Chevrot, Denis FRA 3605 2+2 (720/500)
29 Long, Sam USA 3620 3+1 (340/400)
32 Harvey, Jarrod AUS 3270 2+0
36 Rodriguez Iglesias, Gustavo ESP 2915 3+1 (540/135)
37 Blanchart Tinto, Miquel ESP 2780 3+0 (540/0)
38 Wojt, Lukasz GER 2740 2+2 (960/320)
39 Kappler, Blake AUS 2695 2+2 (405/100)
46 Dirksmeier, Patrick GER 2455 2+1
47 Kramer, Christian GER 2425 3+1 (230/55)
49 Van Looy, Diego BEL 2400 3+0 (720/0)
50 Huerzeler, Samuel SUI 2390 3+0 (385/0)

These athletes fall into two different categories:

  • Lots of Kona or 70.3 Worlds points from late 2018
    Pamella Oliveira was fourth at 70.3 Worlds in Port Elizabeth, then followed that up with three 70.3 wins (including the South American Regional Championships in Buenos Aires) and a second place at IM Brasil – unfortunately behind Sarah Piampiano who took the single female slot.
  • Lots of good (but no great) results in 2019
    The “poster child” for this category is Matt Burton: A 3rd at Western Australia, a 4th at IM New Zealand and a 4th at IM Cairns were just outside the Kona slots – either by one or two spots. A last-minute effort at IM Sweden ended in a frustrating DNF and no Kona slot.

Athletes Impacted by the New System

Some athletes love to race a lot, regardless of “strategic choices” to qualify. For example, Matt Russell has done four long-distance races between April and July, and even though he secured a slot at IM Frankfurt, he followed that up with Challenge Roth (one week after Frankfurt) and a win at IM Lake Placid (just four weeks after Frankfurt).

But there were also athletes who had to adapt their race selection or race strategies in order to qualify. A few examples:

  • Sarah True probably raced a bit harder in Cairns and Frankfurt knowing she needed a first or second to qualify, compared to a “solid finish” which would have secured her slot in a points system.
  • Angela Naeth would have been safe for a Kona slot after her sixth place in Kona and a second place in Cozumel in November under the old KPR system. Instead, she was chasing a slot even while struggling with injuries, resulting in four unsuccessful attempts over the summer (three DNFs in Boulder, Canada and Tallinn, and a fourth place at IM Copenhagen).
  • Braden Currie missed his Kona slot by one spot at IM New Zealand and thus was forced to also race IM Cairns. As he was racing Challenge Roth, he probably would have preferred to skip Cairns. (He DNF’d in Roth.)

Data on 2019 Racing

Gender distribution of Pro Slots

When the new system was announced, the “unassigned slots” were one of the main aspects discussed and how that would impact the number of male and female Pros in Kona. Here’s a look at the resulting numbers:

Season Total Male Female Female Quota
2016 99 57 42 42,4%
2017 92 54 38 41,3%
2018 92 53 39 42,4%
2019 101 56 44 43,6%

(The total for 2019 is currently higher as it shows the number of qualified athletes. That number will likely be a bit smaller leading up to the race with athletes withdrawing, typically there are at least five athletes who don’t race even though having accepted a slot.)

These numbers show that there hasn’t been a major change in females Pros racing in Kona.

Why are the hopes of more even slots still unfulfilled? Ironman will probably point to the reduced number of females starts: In 2018 34,7% of the Pro starters were females, that number has been reduced to 31,4% in 2019. Also, it seems that the Regional Championships were quite attractive for the females in the past: In 2018 38,3% of the starting Pros at the Regionals were female. (My guess is that because more points were available, it was a chance for female Pros to qualify with just one result.) The share of females in the 2019 Regionals was 32,0%, almost exactly the overall average. Therefore, most of the unassigned slots went to the male Pros (16 out 20), but the share of unassigned slots that went to the men (80%) is significantly higher than their share of Pro athletes (68,6%).

DNF Rate

When the new system was announced, there was some speculation about athletes dropping out who were looking for a slot but found themselves too far back. Here’s just one example of many:


However, looking at the DNF rates for the last few seasons, the DNF rate has hardly moved at all:

Season Male Pros Female Pros
2017 26,1% 16,1%
2018 24,8% 16,9%
2019 26,3% 16,5%

It is safe to say that the impact of the qualifying system on the DNF quota has been negligible.

Quantity of Racing

The next table lists the average number of races that the Kona participants did in the season before Kona. In order to make the periods comparable, I’ve used the ten months after Kona to the end of August qualifying  (e.g. for the 2018 season it’s races between October 15th, 2017 to August 19th, 2018).

Season IMs 70.3s Challenge
2017 2,02 2,47 0,51
2018 2,16 2,37 0,64
2019 1,72 2,06 0,69

There has been a noticeable decline in the number of races a Kona athlete has done under the new system. (While it’s quite likely that the new system was the major contributor to this decline, it’s probably best to also check next season’s numbers before making a final call.) This is most pronounced for Ironman races – which seems quite logical since when an athlete has qualified after one race, there is no need for additional racing. It also seems that this “slack” did not go to 70.3 racing which has also declined. Racing in events by the Challenge Family has slightly picked up but is still quite minor compared to Ironman-branded races for those athletes who go to Kona.

Suggested Modifications for the Qualifying System

As far as I can see, there are a couple of criticisms leveled against the new system:

  1. Athletes who are “just outside” of a slot get nothing.
    There are two obvious examples for this: Matt Burton who has narrowly missed a Kona slot three times, and Sarah True who started at Zero even after a fourth place in Kona.
  2. The unassigned slots still heavily favor the men, and the last-minute assignment based on starters leads to surprises on race day.
  3. At some races, the slots rolled down quite far.

In order to address these points, here are a few elements for combining the old and the new system:

  • “Win and you’re in” and Automatic Qualifiers
    I think these parts of the system have been working well and shouldn’t be changed. I would also keep the two minimum slots for the Regional Championships. At 25 Pro IMs per season – including 5 Regionals – this results in 30 slots each for the men and women plus the AQs for previous Kona winners, the current Kona podium and 70.3 Champions.
  • Remaining Slots by a Points System
    Instead of the current “floating slots” that get awarded at different races, the remaining slots get decided by a points system similar to the old KPR. The number of slots could be adjusted based on how many total Pros there should be in Kona, with the current field size there would be about 24 additional slots.
  • Assign Points Slots at the Start of the Season
    Instead of deciding on a per-race basis, the points slots get allocated at the start of the season based on the number of starters in the previous season. Based on 24 points slots and the 2018 female quota of 34,7%, it would result in 8 female and 14 male “base” points slots.
  • No Rolldown of “winner’s slots” – these get added to the points slots
    If someone declines their slot or the winner doesn’t need a slot (e.g. when Daniela won IM Austria or when Jan and Sebi finished 1-2 in Frankfurt), the slot won’t roll down to the next finisher but instead get added to the points slots of their gender.
  • Simplified points system
    Every race beyond the auto qualifiers is a P-2000 (2nd in a normal IM = 3rd in a Regional = 2000 points etc.). One could also include 70.3 champs in this points system (as the winner also gets an AQ slot, 2nd place = 2000 points), but I’d leave out other 70.3s. As before, there should be a maximum of three Ironman races that can be included in the total.

Even though this system would require a bit more admin work than the current system, I think it addresses all of the weaknesses of the current system mentioned above. To me, it seems a worthwhile change – what are your thoughts?

Kona Qualifying – April 2019

Here’s a look at how the Kona 2019 Pro field is shaping up.

With the changed Pro Qualifying system a number of athletes have already secured their place on the Kona start line, and a few more with Automatic Qualifier slots still need to validate with an Ironman finish but can also be reasonably certain to race in Kona this October. All the rest have to finish at the front of one of the remaining qualifying races.


Here’s a quick description of the categories in the following graphs:

  • Qualified (the athletes in this category can be found on this page which is updated soon after each race)
    • Automatic Qualifiers
      Athletes with Automatic Qualifier slots (previous Kona winners, last year’s 70.3 winner, last year’s Kona podium finishers) that have already validated their slot with a finish in an Ironman.
    • Race Slots
      Athletes that have received a slot by winning a Pro Ironman race or finishing near the top.
  • Not (Yet) Qualified
    • Upcoming Race (in the following graphs: Texas) – with a likely number of slots as some are unassigned to the male or female Pros
      Some of the athletes looking to win a slot in an upcoming race. (Athletes with an unvalidated AQ are also listed, but they won’t block one of the race slots.)
    • Automatic Qualifiers
      Athletes with an “AQ” that still have to validate by finishing an Ironman.
    • Notables
      Some other high profile athletes that have not yet secured their Kona slots. I have added some of their race plans (as far as they are known) – please let me know if some plans are incomplete or when someone is missing.
    • Unlikely
      Athletes that are unlikely to go for a Kona slot.

Graphical Views


(Click on the images for a hi-res version!)

What to Look for in 2019 Long-distance Racing

Before the start of the 2019 long-distance racing season, here is a subjective list of trends and athletes to look for. I’m sure that there will be more athletes that are going to impact racing this year, so apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t mentioned!

Further Improvements

Last year’s post had a long list of athletes that were getting ready for their debut race on the IM distance. Some of them (e.g. Anne Haug, Sarah True) had great first seasons and huge results in Kona, some did well but maybe not quite as well as expected (e.g. Javier Gomez), some even struggled to qualify or even had to postpone their debut race and missed Kona qualifying (e.g. Emma Pallant or Laura Philipp).

SarahT Finish

The 2019 season is probably not going to see another influx of new names but rather a progression of athletes in their Ironman racing: Anne and Sarah have done well in Kona and will be looking to build on their Kona 2018 results. Emma will have to continue to work on her long-distance racing skills – it seems she still has to figure out proper race nutrition in order to do well in the last hour of racing. Laura has overcome her mid-season injuries and qualified for Kona 2019 with a new German fastest time in Barcelona.

In addition, there are athletes who made some progress in 2018 who will work hard for an even better 2019. Lucy Charles was already second in Kona twice, she’ll continue to work on closing the gap to Daniela and stay ahead of the rest of the field in Kona. Braden Currie and Joe Skipper have had great seasons and good Kona results, both are hungry to prove that last season’s results have just been an intermediate step. And Cam Wurf – while breaking bike course records whenever he raced – has also made solid progress on his run, closing the gap to the Kona podium from 21 minutes in 2017 to nine minutes in 2018.

Progress of the German Women

While the German men have been dominating in Kona for a number of years (five wins in the last five years), the German women haven’t been able to have similar successes. Last year I predicted two German women in the Kona Top 10, and with Anne Haug in third and Mareen Hufe in 13th that goal was almost reached.

Mareen Bike

Anne and Mareen continue to race this season (Anne just needs to validate her Kona slot with an IM finish and Mareen secured her Kona slot with a win in Malaysia), and there’s another increase in strong German women looking towards a good Kona result. Daniela Sämmler posted a German record in Roth 2018, then already qualified for Kona with a win at IM Italy in September.   (She’ll be racing as Daniela Bleymehl now after getting married shortly before Christmas.) Laura Philipp broke Daniela’s German record by winning IM Barcelona, and Svenja Thoes also won her IM debut in Cozumel. Anja Beranek (now racing again under her maiden name Anja Ippach) was fourth in Kona 2016, but she struggled in 2017 and 2018. After recovering from Mononucleosis, she is now being coached by Siri Lindley and is back to solid training for the 2019 season. Three recent moms are returning to IM racing, but Julia Gajer, Astrid Stienen and Kristin Liepold (née Möller) will need some more time to get in top shape. Nonetheless, things are looking quite for female IM-distance racing in Germany.

Coming Back From Injury

Last season saw two great “return from life-threatening injury” stories with Matt Russell and Tim Don, and it would be great to see these two celebrate even more great results in 2019.

Jan Kraichgau

This year we’re unlikely to see quite that dramatic stories, but there are a number of athletes that haven’t been able to show their full potential because they were struggling with injuries for parts of the 2018 season. Jan Frodeno had a fantastic season until September when he won every race he started, including IM Germany and 70.3 Worlds but then suffered from a hip stress fracture and wasn’t even able to start in Kona. He mentioned that another big win in Kona could have been his last race, so his 2019 is probably focused one more big bang in October. Terenzo Bozzone is another athlete who wasn’t able to race Kona after he was hit by a car and had to take some more time to properly recover from the injuries he sustained. By winning IM Western Australia he already punched his Kona ticket and indicated that his accident was hopefully just a short break of improving his Ironman racing skills. Ben Hoffman never really got his 2018 season properly going, a crash at Cape Epic kept him from racing well in South Africa, and before Kona he suffered from a stress fracture. Hopefully 2019 will see him return to the solid races he has had in the previous years, both in his qualifying races and in Kona. Boris Stein has finished in Kona Top 10 three times in a row between 2015 and 2017, but his season was disrupted just a few days before his target race IM France when he hit a cat in one of his last bike rides. He snagged a last-minute qualifying spot at IM Copenhagen, but didn’t feel good enough in his final Kona build and canceled his start. The final male athlete I want to highlight is Sebastian Kienle – after winning Challenge Roth which was the fastest 2018 time outside of Texas, an achilles niggle flared up in his Kona build, leading to a sub-standard bike and a DNF early on the run. He’s changed up a few things and I expect him to come back shooting for another Kona win this year.

There were also some athletes on the female side who didn’t have a consistent 2018 season as well. Mel Hauschildt recovered from her surgery to win IM Texas (her third Regional Championship on three different continents!) but then needed another surgery on her other leg and couldn’t race Kona. Annabel Luxford managed to qualify for Kona but also didn’t race – she seemed to struggle with chest infections and that had a major impact on her  Kona prep.

All of these stories are examples of the fine edge between “being fit and being f*cked” (as Sebi put it before Kona) and how one little thing – often without any “fault” of the athlete – can disrupt a whole season. Hopefully struggles in 2018 are going to be offset by a better 2019 season!

Who dominates in North America – USA or Canada?

The US has been dominating the early years of Ironman racing, but the most recent North American winners are from Canada: Lori Bowden and Peter Reid in 2003. That’s a long time ago, and it’s an interesting question where the next North American winners will be coming from.


On the men’s side, there have been podium results by US athletes Tim O’Donnell (third in 2015) and Ben Hoffman (second in 2014), but the closest to a Kona win was been Lionel Sanders who finished second in 2017. In 2018, the top North American finisher was again Tim O’Donnell but there is a strong contingent of Canadians we can expect to race well in Kona: Lionel will work hard to bounce back from his disappointing 2018 race, and Cody Beals has won both IMs he’s been racing so far. Brent McMahon is racing well in his qualifying Ironman races but hasn’t been quite figured out how to transfer that to Kona.

There is a similar rivalry on the female side: Heather Jackson has been the top North American finisher in Kona except this year, but with Sarah True another US woman finished fourth behind three Europeans. Linsey Corbin finished tenth, followed by Sarah Piampiano in eleventh place. Other strong American women include Meredith Kessler (still working on “getting Kona right”), Lesley Smith, Lisa Roberts, Jocelyn McCauley, Jodie Robertson and Lauren Brandon – all of these have the potential for an Ironman win during the season and a good Kona result. But Canada also had a Kona Top 10 finish this year (Angela Naeth in eighth place), and with Jen Annett, Kirsty Jahn, and Rachel McBride there are a few more promising athletes.

It looks to me that the US still has a few more athletes with Kona Top 10 potential, but things are pretty even when looking for the next North American Kona winner.

Photo Credits: All Photos © by Ingo Kutsche, used with permission.

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