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Announcing the Kona 2019 Rating Report

2019 TitlePage Kona Report Tight

For the 2019 Ironman World Championships in Kona on October 12th I have released a 150+-page Rating Report with tons of information:

  • Detailed results and analysis of last year’s race
  • Information about the Kona course, top Kona finishers and the current course records
  • A summary of Pro qualifying and who will be on the startline
  • How the race may unfold and what to watch for during the race
  • The Kona 2019 start list and my predictions and odds for the Pro athletes
  • Details about all Pros including their input and a lot of photos

The Report is available for free, but it would be great if you can support my work before Kona and during the year by donating an amount of your choice. (For comparison, triathlon magazines sell for about $8.)

The Kona Rating Report is the ideal information to have when following the Ironman Kona coverage!

Get The Kona Report

Some Kona 2019 Data Points

This post looks at some data points on the Kona 2019 Pro field. There’s going to be a lot more information about Kona and the Kona Pro field in my “Kona 2019 Rating Report” that you can already pre-order here.

Distribution by Nation

First, let’s have a look at how many Pro athletes are going to be racing in Kona and how those numbers have changed in recent years. I’m using 2011 as the starting year since the Kona Pro field has been pretty much around 90 athletes since then. In earlier years the Pro fields have been much larger – for example there were 148 Pro starters in 2009!

Here’s the graph that looks at the number of Pros broken down by nation:

Nations

Some main points:

  • The US has always had the largest number of Pro athletes racing in Kona. This year isn’t any different – the US has 21 Pro athletes which is also a record number (tied with 2013 and 2015).
  • Next up is Germany – 19 German Pros is also a record number and more than double than last year. Germany was in #4 four last year, they have clearly moved to take the #2 this year.
  • Last year, Australia and the United Kingdom were tied at nine athletes each, and not much has changed: Australia stayed the same, the British Pro team has grown by one athlete.
  • Switzerland has closed the gap to the top nations, with eight Pros in 2019 they have almost closed the gap to Australia.
  • There is a lot more movement for the smaller nations. In 2018 New Zealand had seven athletes in Kona, this year they have dropped down to three. The big mover is South Africa with an improvement from two athletes last year to five.

Kona Experience of the Pro Field

This section look at how the Kona field is changing over time.

First, a look at how often the Kona Pros have raced there before:

KonaExperience

This graph shows that there hasn’t been much change from last year. The men’s average of 3.30 races per starter continues to be at record levels. The corresponding female number (an average of 2.20 races per starter) is almost one race lower than that.

The next graph looks at what part of the field is athletes returning from the previous year’s race and which part consists of Kona rookies:

Returns Rookies

There is a bit more movement here:

  • The Return Rate for the men has dropped from 64% to just over fifty percent. At the same time, the segment of Kona rookies has grown to 25%, the highest number since 2015 when it was 33%.
  • The number of female rookies has reached a new record level: 16 rookies result in a rookies quota of 36%. Exactly half of the 2019 field has raced Kona 2018.

It’s not quite clear why these changes have happened, but it’s quite likely that the new qualifying system has played a role.

Age of the Kona Pros

Here’s a graph showing the age distribution of the Kona Pros (click for a hi-res version):

The youngest Pros racing in Kona are Daniel Baekkegard (23 years) and Nina Derron, Imo Simmonds and Lucy Charles-Barkley (26 years). Sue Huse and Daniel Fontana are the oldest.

It’s interesting to cross-reference this with the Age of Kona winners and some extra material for speculation.

Individual Athlete Kona Results

The following tables look at the results each Kona 2019 Pro athlete has had on the Big Island in previous years.

Female Participants

Athletes 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 # of Starts Highest Finish
Corinne Abraham 11 16 9 3 9
Jen Annett 25 1 25
Nikki Bartlett 0 of 1
Emma Bilham
Daniela Bleymehl 36 1 36
Lauren Brandon 26 1 of 2 26
Mirinda Carfrae 2 Win 2 3 Win Win 2 5 8 of 9 1
Lucy Charles-Barclay 2 2 2 2
Susie Cheetham 6 6 26 3 of 4 6
Linsey Corbin 23 5 11 12 16 8 10 12 13 13 10 11 of 12 5
Sarah Crowley 15 3 6 3 3
Nina Derron
Gurutze Frades Larralde 33 22 24 3 22
Anne Haug 3 1 3
Mareen Hufe 19 21 11 13 4 of 5 11
Sue Huse
Heather Jackson 5 3 4 14 4 3
Meredith Kessler 26 7 26 35 4 of 7 7
Martina Kunz
Carrie Lester 23 10 7 3 of 4 7
Kristin Liepold 17 15 25 26 4 15
Danielle Mack
Jocelyn McCauley 10 30 2 10
Skye Moench
Kimberley Morrison
Camilla Pedersen 8 11 2 of 3 8
Laura Philipp
Sarah Piampiano 23 7 7 11 4 of 5 7
Barbara Riveros
Daniela Ryf 2 Win Win Win Win 5 1
Kaisa Sali 5 5 7 3 5
Jeanni Seymour
Laura Siddall 15 17 2 15
Imogen Simmonds
Lesley Smith 0 of 1
Jennifer Spieldenner
Maja Stage Nielsen 12 15 2 12
Caroline Steffen 2 5 2 5 5 9 6 2
Bianca Steurer 28 1 28
Svenja Thoes
Sarah True 4 1 4
Els Visser
Annah Watkinson
Kelsey Withrow

Male Participants

Athletes 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 # of Starts Highest Finish
Bart Aernouts 11 8 9 8 12 2 6 of 7 2
Clemente Alonso McKernan 17 1 of 3 17
Josh Amberger 29 1 of 2 29
Daniel Baekkegard
Cody Beals
Andi Boecherer 51 8 21 20 5 5 of 6 5
Terenzo Bozzone 11 20 6 3 of 5 6
Alistair Brownlee
Kyle Buckingham 24 30 26 23 4 of 5 23
Will Clarke 41 42 2 41
Maurice Clavel 19 1 19
James Cunnama 51 4 26 5 17 5 of 6 4
Braden Currie 30 5 2 5
Mario De Elias
David Dellow 9 24 2 of 3 9
Tobias Drachler
Andreas Dreitz 13 1 13
Marc Duelsen 18 1 of 2 18
Daniel Fontana 12 33 2 of 5 12
Jan Frodeno 3 Win Win 35 4 1
Nils Frommhold 6 29 2 of 3 6
Joe Gambles 20 27 2 of 4 20
Matt Hanson 34 33 2 of 3 33
Ben Hoffman 55 42 15 2 27 4 9 7 of 8 2
Kristian Hogenhaug
Sebastian Kienle 4 3 Win 8 2 4 6 of 7 1
Philipp Koutny 15 1 15
Lukas Kraemer
Patrick Lange 3 Win Win 3 1
Chris Leiferman
Eneko Llanos 5 7 2 14 7 11 7 27 24 9 of 12 2
Franz Loeschke
David McNamee 11 13 3 3 4 3
Patrik Nilsson 8 1 of 2 8
Timothy O’Donnell 8 5 32 3 6 19 4 7 of 8 3
Kennett Peterson
Mike Phillips 16 1 16
David Plese 27 17 21 3 of 5 17
Andy Potts 7 9 21 17 7 4 4 11 7 8 10 4
Tim Reed 21 23 18 3 of 4 18
Matthew Russell 23 20 18 23 12 6 6 of 7 6
Lionel Sanders 14 29 2 28 4 2
Daniil Sapunov
Stefan Schumacher
Frank Silvestrin
Joe Skipper 13 41 7 3 7
Andrew Starykowicz 19 40 2 of 3 19
Boris Stein 20 10 7 10 4 7
Jesper Svensson
TJ Tollakson 29 58 32 38 20 5 of 7 20
Matt Trautman 0 of 1
Jan van Berkel 32 22 24 3 of 4 22
Tim Van Berkel 7 36 19 15 12 5 7
Cyril Viennot 15 18 12 5 6 18 35 7 of 8 5
Michael Weiss 25 13 16 16 32 10 6 of 8 10
Cameron Wurf 17 9 2 9

There’s going to be a lot more information about Kona and the Kona Pro field in my “Kona 2019 Rating Report” that you can already pre-order here.

Kona 2019 Resources

Here is a list of resources for Kona 2019 (race on Saturday, October 12th):

Some posts from other Triathlon media:

  • Tim Heming’s discussion for the British “220 Triathlon” magazine about his Top 10 Kona Predictions for the Women and Men
  • The schedule for “Breakfast with Bob” (starting Monday) can be found here. If you have a chance to watch it live, by all means do so – most of the Pros are really friendly and still relaxed. If you can’t be in Kona, watch the interviews live or taped on YouTube.
  • Talbot Cox has a series of videos in his “Kona 2019” series on YouTube.
  • The Ironwomen podcast is doing a lot of interviews with female Pros on their Facebook page.
  • Laura Siddall has written for Red Bull about the male and female Pro fields.  Always interesting to get the perspective of someone racing in the Pro race herself!
  • Witsup has produced a hilarious spoof of the Kona coverage: “The 2019 Witsuo Kona Kall

Always Up-to-date Kona 2019 Startlist

NewImageHere is the start list for Kona 2019. I will update when athletes withdraw from the race.

For details about Pro qualifying and where each athlete qualified, check out the “Kona 2019 Qualifying” page.

I provide a lot more details on the race and the participants in my free “Kona Rating Report” – you can order the Report here or by clicking “Get Kona Report” in the sidebar on the right.

Updates

  • On October 6th, Terenzo Bozzone withdrew from the race (see his Instagram post), citing an Achilles injury that is on the mend but just not good enough to be competitive on the run.
  • On September 26th, Skye Moench posted on Instagram that she’s been in a bike crash. Her injuries (among others a concussion, shattered elbow, and broken clavicle) won’t allow her to race in Kona this year.
  • On September 17th, Kyle Buckingham announced on Instagram that because of visa problems he won’t be able to race Kona. He has instead switched his focus to IM Italy and IM Barcelona.
  • In early July, Frederik van Lierde announced that he will not race Kona but is instead going to focus on 70.3 Worlds in Nice in early September and then IM Barcelona in October.

To the athletes with an injury, fingers crossed for a speedy and full recovery!

Injury List

Not all Kona preps are going according to plan, and some athletes are open about the problems they are facing in getting ready for Kona:

  • Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell posted an update on their YouTube channel. The title of the episode says it all: “I broke my elbow and Tim hurt his foot“. Both are still planning to race Kona, even if Rinny thinks her swim will suffer.

Male Race Participants

Bib Name Nation Age Previous Results
M1 Patrick Lange GER 33 3 finishes, 2 wins (2017, 2018)
M2 Bart Aernouts BEL 35 6 finishes (7 starts)
M3 David McNamee GBR 31 4 finishes
M4 Jan Frodeno GER 38 4 finishes, 2 wins (2015, 2016)
M5 Sebastian Kienle GER 35 6 finishes (7 starts), 1 win (2014)
M6 Timothy O’Donnell USA 39 7 finishes (8 starts)
M7 Braden Currie NZL 33 2 finishes
M8 Matthew Russell USA 36 6 finishes (7 starts)
M9 Joe Skipper GBR 31 3 finishes
M10 Andy Potts USA 42 10 finishes
M11 Cameron Wurf AUS 36 2 finishes
M12 Michael Weiss AUT 38 6 finishes (8 starts)
M14 Ben Hoffman USA 36 7 finishes (8 starts)
M15 Patrik Nilsson SWE 28 1 finish (2 starts)
M16 Tim Reed AUS 34 3 finishes (4 starts)
M17 Lionel Sanders CAN 31 4 finishes
M18 James Cunnama ZAF 36 5 finishes (6 starts)
M19 Andi Boecherer GER 36 5 finishes (6 starts)
M20 Cody Beals CAN 29 none
M21 Daniel Baekkegard DEN 23 none
M22 Eneko Llanos ESP 42 9 finishes (12 starts)
M23 Terenzo Bozzone NZL 34 3 finishes (5 starts)
M24 Alistair Brownlee GBR 31 none
M25 Daniel Fontana ITA 43 2 finishes (5 starts)
M26 Matt Hanson USA 34 2 finishes (3 starts)
M27 Kristian Hogenhaug DEN 28 none
M28 Chris Leiferman USA 33 none
M29 Mike Phillips NZL 28 1 finish
M30 Daniil Sapunov UKR 37 none
M31 Boris Stein GER 34 4 finishes
M32 Jesper Svensson SWE 29 none
M33 Matt Trautman ZAF 34 0 finishes (1 start)
M34 Jan van Berkel SUI 31 3 finishes (4 starts)
M35 Clemente Alonso McKernan ESP 41 1 finish (3 starts)
M36 Josh Amberger AUS 30 1 finish (2 starts)
M38 Will Clarke GBR 34 2 finishes
M39 Maurice Clavel GER 31 1 finish
M40 Mario De Elias ARG 35 none
M41 David Dellow AUS 40 2 finishes (3 starts)
M42 Tobias Drachler GER 28 none
M43 Andreas Dreitz GER 30 1 finish
M44 Marc Duelsen GER 34 1 finish (2 starts)
M45 Nils Frommhold GER 33 2 finishes (3 starts)
M46 Joe Gambles AUS 37 2 finishes (4 starts)
M47 Philipp Koutny SUI 36 1 finish
M48 Franz Loeschke GER 30 none
M49 Lukas Kraemer GER 35 none
M50 Kennett Peterson USA 33 none
M51 David Plese SLO 36 3 finishes (5 starts)
M52 Stefan Schumacher GER 38 none
M53 Frank Silvestrin BRA 37 none
M54 Andrew Starykowicz USA 37 2 finishes (3 starts)
M55 TJ Tollakson USA 39 5 finishes (7 starts)
M56 Tim Van Berkel AUS 35 5 finishes
M57 Cyril Viennot FRA 37 7 finishes (8 starts)

Female Race Participants

Bib Name Nation Age Previous Results
F1 Daniela Ryf SUI 32 5 finishes, 4 wins (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
F2 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR 26 2 finishes
F3 Anne Haug GER 36 1 finish
F4 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 38 8 finishes (9 starts), 3 wins (2010, 2013, 2014)
F5 Sarah True USA 37 1 finish
F6 Sarah Crowley AUS 36 3 finishes
F7 Kaisa Sali FIN 38 3 finishes
F8 Corinne Abraham GBR 41 3 finishes
F9 Linsey Corbin USA 38 11 finishes (12 starts)
F11 Heather Jackson USA 35 4 finishes
F12 Carrie Lester AUS 37 3 finishes (4 starts)
F14 Nikki Bartlett GBR 32 0 finishes (1 start)
F15 Emma Bilham SUI 32 none
F16 Lauren Brandon USA 34 1 finish (2 starts)
F17 Susie Cheetham GBR 33 3 finishes (4 starts)
F18 Mareen Hufe GER 41 4 finishes (5 starts)
F19 Sue Huse CAN 45 none
F20 Jocelyn McCauley USA 31 2 finishes
F21 Laura Philipp GER 32 none
F22 Sarah Piampiano USA 39 4 finishes (5 starts)
F23 Daniela Bleymehl GER 31 1 finish
F24 Laura Siddall GBR 39 2 finishes
F25 Jennifer Spieldenner USA 33 none
F26 Caroline Steffen SUI 41 6 finishes
F27 Svenja Thoes GER 28 none
F28 Jen Annett CAN 34 1 finish
F29 Nina Derron SUI 26 none
F30 Gurutze Frades Larralde ESP 38 3 finishes
F31 Meredith Kessler USA 41 4 finishes (7 starts)
F32 Martina Kunz SUI 35 none
F33 Kristin Liepold GER 35 4 finishes
F34 Danielle Mack USA 32 none
F35 Kimberley Morrison GBR 31 none
F36 Camilla Pedersen DEN 36 2 finishes (3 starts)
F37 Barbara Riveros CHI 32 none
F38 Jeanni Seymour ZAF 27 none
F39 Imogen Simmonds SUI 26 none
F40 Lesley Smith USA 36 0 finishes (1 start)
F41 Maja Stage Nielsen DEN 31 2 finishes
F42 Bianca Steurer AUT 33 1 finish
F43 Els Visser NED 29 none
F44 Annah Watkinson ZAF 38 none
F45 Kelsey Withrow USA 37 none

Kona 2018 – How the Female Race Unfolded

Here are the results of the top finishers of the female Pro race in Kona 2018 (full results can be found here, a detailed look at the men’s Pro race here):

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time Diff to exp. Prize Money
1 Daniela Ryf SUI 00:57:27 04:26:07 02:57:05 08:26:18 -17:26 US$ 120,000
2 Lucy Charles GBR 00:48:14 04:38:10 03:05:50 08:36:34 -25:35 US$ 60,000
3 Anne Haug GER 00:54:21 04:47:45 02:55:20 08:41:58 -30:22 US$ 40,000
4 Sarah True USA 00:52:06 04:49:19 02:57:38 08:43:43 -19:47 US$ 22,500
5 Mirinda Carfrae AUS 00:58:18 04:46:05 03:01:41 08:50:45 -10:54 US$ 19,000
6 Sarah Crowley AUS 00:54:19 04:43:09 03:10:29 08:52:30 -18:51 US$ 16,000
7 Kaisa Sali FIN 00:58:23 04:44:31 03:06:04 08:54:28 -06:45 US$ 14,000
8 Angela Naeth CAN 00:58:28 04:42:25 03:11:11 08:57:36 -35:49 US$ 12,500
9 Corinne Abraham GBR 00:58:44 04:38:16 03:16:26 08:57:55 -12:46 US$ 11,000
10 Linsey Corbin USA 00:58:24 04:48:29 03:07:15 08:58:58 -13:13 US$ 10,000
11 Sarah Piampiano USA 01:05:04 04:52:01 02:59:26 09:01:57 -15:56
12 Liz Blatchford AUS 00:52:09 04:53:32 03:15:17 09:06:20 -05:09
13 Mareen Hufe GER 00:58:34 04:43:50 03:18:40 09:06:35 -11:50
14 Heather Jackson USA 00:58:18 04:44:45 03:21:56 09:09:16 06:32

Here’s the Race Development Graph for these athletes:

Kona 2018 Women

Kona Champion: Daniela Ryf

Even jelly fish stings shortly before the race couldn’t stop Daniela from defending her title and also setting new records:

Kona Dani

Before the race there was pretty much agreement that Dani would be able to defend her title unless something serious happened to her. This year, something serious did happened to her – she was stung by jellyfish under both armpits and was seriously thinking about not even starting the race. She decided to give it a try and said she felt so slow that she was sure she was in last place. It wasn’t quite that slow (she still swam under an hour and faster than Mirinda Carfrae or Kaisa Sali), but she lost nine minutes to Lucy Charles (twice as much time as last year) and when she took some extra time in T1 she was even further behind, starting the bike in 22nd place in a group with a few other contenders who were probably very surprised to ride with Dani. She gained a few spots in the first hour of the bike, but didn’t make up any ground to Lucy. But once she passed the Airport, she was able to put the pain from the stings aside and slowly started to move ahead and close the gap. By the turn in Hawi, she had moved into second place and was also riding too fast for Sarah Crowley who had been riding with her for a few miles – but she was still seven minutes behind Lucy.

What followed was a demonstration of her domination on the Ironman distance: She closed the gap to Lucy in the next 40 miles and posted one of the fastest second half bike splits overall. (One of the stats making the round after the race was that she rode the last 70k of the bike quicker than male winner Patrick Lange, and there were only seven Pro men riding that section faster than her.) She took the lead from Lucy at about mile 102 (even a bit earlier than last year) and with a bike split of 4:26:07 annihilated the long-standing bike record (4:44:19 by Karin Thürig from 2011). Even though the conditions were fast this year and there were five more athletes breaking the old record, she still posted the fastest bike split by more than twelve minutes!

Still, Dani started the run only 90 seconds ahead of Lucy, so she still needed a solid run after that very hard bike leg to secure her fourth Kona title in a row. She never allowed any doubt about her marathon (or any hope for Lucy): In fact she almost posted a new marathon PR, her 2:57 missed her best run from 2016 by just 14 seconds. In the end, an ecstatic Dani crossed the line with a ten-minute margin to second place, of course with a new course record of 8:26:07 – an improvement on her 2016 time by more than 20 minutes. In all the excitement on race day it went pretty much unnoticed that this is also the fastest time ever in an Ironman-branded race, there are only three quicker finishes in Roth (8:22 by Dani in 2016 and Chrissie Wellington’s 8:18 and 8:19 in 2010 and 2011).

Dani Finish

Second: Lucy Charles

With another great performance, Lucy again claimed second place for the second year in a row:

Kona Lucy

Once again Lucy had a great start of the race and was leading the race into T1. She had said before the race that she wanted to go for the swim course record, and from the gun she was swimming at a hard pace, quickly leaving the rest of the field behind. Her pace was spot on: Her 48:14 broke Jodi Jackson’s 1999 swim course record by 29 seconds. She didn’t know anything of Daniela’s problems during the swim and started to also set a fast pace on the bike. She delivered another great performance in Kona: In addition to breaking the swim course record, she was six minutes faster than the old bike course record, and almost posted a new run PR (she missed her run time from South Africa by five seconds). When she crossed the finish line in 8:36:14, she was ten minutes quicker than the old course record. Nonetheless, Lucy’s 2018 race was pretty much a copy of last year: Leading after the swim and for most of the bike, she was overtaken by Dani shortly before T2, and a good run allowed her to finish second by a good margin to third place: two minutes in 2017, five minutes this year.

Lucy Palani

Third and Fourth: Anne Haug & Sarah True

While the first two places were pretty much decided in T2, the race for third was close until just before the finish line when Anne Haug was able to overtake Sarah True:

Kona Anne Sarah

Both didn’t lose too much time in the swim (four minutes for Sarah, six minutes for Anne), and both were happy to settle into a bigger big group that formed behind the leading athletes. The positions shown in the graph above are a bit misleading – the group was close to 15 athletes riding between fifth and 20th place. For most of the bike ride, the two rookies were happy to follow the pace set by more experienced athletes, eventually riding 15 minutes behind the leaders. Around 90 miles into the bike, Sarah was still feeling good and started to ride a strong, focused pace and the group started to fall apart. Anne was able to match her pace and they started the run in fifth and sixth place within 30 seconds of each other. Sarah and Anne were running the fastest pace in the female field and by the time they left the Energy Lab, they had moved into third and fourth place, still less than a minute apart. Anne was especially strong towards the end, moved into third place less than five miles from the finish and ran the best female marathon of the day with a 2:55 – the fastest Kona run since Rinny’s course run record in 2014.

Anne Finish

Sarah admits that she ran the first part of the run with too much excitement: “I paid for my early pace after the halfway point and started to have GI distress and problems with nutrition. Before Anne passed me, I was aware that I might have difficulty finishing if I didn’t slow down through aid stations and start to take in more nutrition. While this approach helped me salvage my race, I definitely suffered quite a bit. I don’t remember the last bit of the race which is a shame. I wanted to experience all of Kona, but being in survival mode meant that I don’t remember crossing the finish line very well. I guess I’ll have to go back to experience it fully!”

SarahT Finish

Fifth to Ninth: Mirinda Carfrae, Sarah Crowley, Kaisa Sali, Angela Naeth, and Corinne Abraham

Kona 5to9

There were two athletes that were able to ride between Lucy and Dani in front and the large bike group about ten to 15 minutes behind the lead. As last year, Sarah Crowley (orange line) was sticking to Daniela, but had to let her go shortly after the turnaround. By T2 she was over twelve minutes back, and she was overtaken by Corinne Abraham (green line) who was able to ride five minutes into the big bike group by posting the third-best bike split (just 6 seconds slower than Lucy Charles). Corinne wasn’t able to do much run training and after the race was happy to finish in ninth place when she rallied to run with Angela Naeth after the Energy Lab. Sarah ran in third place on Ali’i, but then she was overtaken, first by Anne and Sarah and then – shortly after exiting the Energy Lab – by Mirinda Carfrae. Sarah ended up finishing sixth but she was clearly racing for more.

In her comeback season, Mirinda Carfrae (aqua line) had a solid Kona race. She was part of the big bike group that formed after the swim and while she lost almost twenty minutes to Daniela Ryf and started the run in 14th pace, she was just over five minutes behind the podium ranks in T2. Rinny quickly moved into the Top 10, but others from the bike group (Anne Haug, Sarah True) were running a bit quicker than her so this year her run through the field ended in fifth place.

Rinny Palani

The other proven strong runner in the big bike group was Kaisa Sali (blue line). A 3:06 marathon was good enough for a seventh-place finish but not enough to make up ground to the athletes in front of her. Even though Angela Naeth (red line) was five minutes slower than Kaisa on the run, she is probably quite happy with her Kona marathon – the only time she ever ran a better time was in her win at IM Texas in 2015. Angela has been getting faster in each IM marathon she completed in her 2018 season.

Falling Back and Coming From Behind: Linsey Corbin, Sarah Piampiano, Liz Blatchford, Mareen Hufe and Heather Jackson

There are two different story types for the athletes finishing between ninth and 14th place:

Kona 10to14

Linsey Corbin (violet line) quickly lost touch with the big bike group, but riding her own pace she didn’t lose too much time: In T2 she was 18th, but only three to five minutes behind a lot of athletes. A steady 3:07 marathon saw her slowly climb the ranks and finish in tenth place, the last Pro to earn prize money.

The fourth sub-3 Kona 2018 marathon was run by Sarah Piampiano (turquoise line) who ended the race in eleventh place. As is typical for her, she lost a lot of time in the swim and started the bike in 36th place (fourth-to-last). By T2 she was able to gain a few spots, but she was still 15 minutes behind tenth place. But she had an almost evenly paced marathon, ending up in eleventh place just three minutes short of the Top 10.

The next three spots were taken by athletes that worked hard on the bike to put themselves in good positions but then didn’t quite have the runs that would have been needed for a Top 10 finish. Liz Blatchford (orange line) lost contact with the bike group in the final miles of the bike but then had a solid 3:15 run to finish twelfth. Mareen Hufe (light blue) was once again one of the strongest athletes on the bike and started the run in the Top 10 but with a lot of strong runners around her. She didn’t concede too many spots, but a 3:18 marathon saw her drop back into 13th place.

Mareen Bike

Heather Jackson (pink line) started the run in eighth place and a lot of her fans thought that with her typical fast run she’d be a strong podium contender. But to her own disappointment, she never found a good rhythm and even struggled in the last ten k, dropping back to 14th place.

Credit: All photos by Ingo Kutsche

Observations about the 2018 Female Race

There are a couple of things that have been unusual about the 2018 race:

  • Fast Times
    Even more than on the men’s side, this year’s Kona was extremely fast. Daniela Ryf set a new course record and also the fastest IM-distance time outside of Roth. There are now 22 sub-9 finishes in Kona – ten of them from this year. Until now, there has never been a year with more than two sub-9 finishes!
  • Dominance of Daniela
    Daniela has now won the last four races in Kona, and all of her wins weren’t even close – the smallest gap was in 2017 when Lucy was nine minutes behind. Even this year’s troubles before the swim didn’t stop Dani. If she continues to stay motivated and (mostly) healthy, there isn’t a real challenger for her in sight.
  • Big Bike Group
    With a big bike group forming after the swim that then gets progressively smaller, the female race is becoming more and more similar to the men’s race. Other than Daniela and Lucy (who were in a separate race for most of the day), no one was rewarded for trying to ride their own pace: Both Sarah Crowley and Corinne Abraham who rode in front of the group fell back on the run, and the best-placed athlete behind the group was Linsey Corbin who finished tenth.
    At the same time, the strong bike riders will probably have to think about how they can build a gap in T2 to put some extra pressure on the runners. “Riding steady” as they seemed to do this year is no longer enough to shake off the athletes not quite as strong on the bike, but a gap will be needed if they want to place well in the deep Kona field.
  • Strong Running required
    The marathon in Kona is getting quicker from year to year, and a sub-3:10 run is now almost required for a Top 10 finish. (In 2018 there was only Corinne who was more than a few seconds above 3:10, while there were four each in 2016 and 2017.) While this is also a consequence of the big bike group, this is unlikely to change in the next years – if anything run times will stay at the same level while the bike times are also getting faster. Quite a challenge for the athletes that want to step up to a Top 10 finish!

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