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Changing the gap between Pro Women and Age Group Men in Kona (cont’d)

In an earlier post, I analyzed the implications of shortening the gap in Kona between the Pro Women and the Age Group Men from 25 minutes (as it was in 2012 and 2013) to 20 minutes (as it is currently planned by WTC for 2014), suggesting that a 25 minute gap would allow for a much cleaner women’s race.

In an interview with Triathlete, Mirinda Carfrae describes the discussion between some of the top Pro Women and WTC regarding the start gap in Kona:

We were asking for a 5-minute gap from the lead men and 25 minutes to the age groupers, which is what it has been the last two years in Kona. The first thing they told us when we walked in was that we will be starting 5 minutes after the pro men, age-group men will go off 15 minutes after us and age-group women will go off 15 minutes after that.

So we were all devastated as soon as they said that. In the end they compromised and gave us 20 minutes from the age-group men.

How bad would a 15 minute gap have been? Here’s the graph (for a general description and comparison to the 20 and 25 minute graphs, please check out my initial analysis) for a 15 minute gap:

2013 Mixing WPRO AGs 15

It’s pretty obvious that the back end of the Pro Women would be in the middle of Age Group Men starting from the end of the swim. Also, the front of the Pro Women’s race would have been caught by the top age groupers towards the end of the bike – though not the leaders.

However, I think the gaps between the AG men around the Pro women wouldn’t be worse at 15 minutes than at 20 minutes:

  • The number of athletes up to five minutes in front of Linsey Corbin (10th finisher) in T2 would change from 42 to 48 – not a substantial change.
  • Similarly, Mirjam Weerd (25th finisher) would have to deal with 85 instead of 104 athletes – more or less a statistical blip, as most five minute groups in T2 have about 100 athletes.
Here is a table comparing my assessments of the three different gaps that have been suggested:
25 minutes 20 minutes 15 minutes
Front of Race clean clean minimum impact
10th place small impact medium impact medium impact
Back of Race medium impact large impact large impact

Essentially, the 20 minute gap is more similar to the already rejected 15 minute gap than to the preferred 25 minute gap. So even if 20 minutes sounds like a fair compromise between 15 minutes and 25 minutes, it really isn’t. I don’t think that a lot of this data was apparent at the time that the gap was discussed, and I hope that the last word has not been spoken for 2014.

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