In my free “2013 Kona Rating Report“, I’m having a long statistical look at the capabilities of the Pros racing Ironman Hawaii. Based on my data I can develop some predictions on how the race may play out. The graphs show for various points along the course who could be in the lead and who is back by how much. They are based only on previous race results. Other important aspects, such as the course dynamics (hills, wind etc.) and race dynamics (for example groups forming), are not taken into account. However, the graphs give a good indication of whom we can expect at the front of the race.
The first graph for the men focuses on the front end of the race. It shows all race leaders and the athletes I expect to finish in the Top 10:
Some of the highlights from this graph:
- Clayton Fettel appears to be the strongest swimmer in the field. However, he will fall back on the bike and then even further on the run, probably finishing by about 20 minutes behind the Kona winner.
- If Andy Starykowicz races true to his fantastic bike rating (based on his IMs in Florida and Arizona), he will quickly take the lead. He should bike in about 4:26. (For comparison, the bike record by Norman Stadler is 4:18, and last year’s best was a 4:33 by Sebastian Kienle).
- Unless some other athletes try to follow Andy (and risk blowing up on the run), Dirk Bockel should be the one who manages to stay closest. He should be about 5 minutes behind Andy, and as usual there will be a larger group coming in around 10 minutes back.
- Among the athletes who could try to make up more time (or loose less time) on the bike, I’m especially looking forward to how Sebastian Kienle is going to do. Based on his last year’s race (and hopefully better technical luck) and his recent performance in Las Vegas, he might be the one athlete to race much faster than his rating indicates. I would also expect that Pete and Crowie will try to force the “main pack” to break up and be active on the bike as they did the last two years.
- The field will come together on the first part of the run, and I expect the Top 10 athletes to be within 5 minutes at the half marathon mark. By then, Dirk Bockel should have taken the lead. Dirk’s lead won’t last long, as I expect Andreas and Crowie to overtake him, closely followed by Pete Jacobs.
- From a purely rating-based perspective, Andreas should win the race, but the difference between him and Crowie and Pete is so small that it’s too close to call. It would surely be great to see three athletes within less than a minute exiting the Energy Lab!
TOP US Pros
One of the “sub-races” within the main race is the question of who can be the best from his country. For example, there is a lot of interest for the top finisher from the US – so the next graph only shows Pros from the USA:
The main data points on this graph (please note the different scale on the “distance” axis):
- As discussed above, Andy Starykowicz has a good chance to take the lead early on the bike and hold on to it until shortly before the half-marathon mark.
- Behind him, a number of athletes will probably finish the bike in the “main pack” about 10 minutes back: Tim O’Donnell, TJ Tollakson, Andy Potts, Ben Hoffman and probably Jordan Rapp.
- Of these, TO is the best-rated runner, but I also see Jordan Rapp making up time on the run. It’ll probably depend on who has the best legs on race day to decide the first US pro, as the ratings indicate that the top 6 US athletes would finish within roughly 5 minutes.
- In order for the other US athletes to contend for “Best American”, Brandon, Ian, Matthew or Thomas will need a great bike (and probably an exceptional run as well). Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that I’m underestimating Ian’s capabilities on race day.
TOP German Pros
The other “race within a race” is usually for the best German. This year might be a bit different as I see Andreas Raelert winning the race (or at least being on a podium spot), but here’s a look at the expectations for how the German Pros will do:
- I expect to see the same four athletes as last year to be the first German pros, and they also should be able to finish in the Top 10. If Andi has his perfect day, he can win the race. If Sebi manages to improve on his race from last year, he may also be in the mix towards the end. Faris and Timo have finished a number of times in the Top 10, but I can’t really see them pulling off a win or even a podium.
- Behind these, Jan Raphael and Andi Böcherer would love to get a Top 10 spot. From what I see, they would have to show a notable improvement on the bike (Jan) and/or the run (Andi). (Update: Andi Böcherer won’t be able to race in Hawaii.)
- The other four athletes (Horst, Per, Christian and Stefan) are either Kona rookies or haven’t had a good Kona result yet. I’m sure they’d love to mix it up with the “big guys”, but their previous results indicate that they will probably be about 20 minutes back after the bike, and none of them has the run speed to make up time on the run. A Top 20 place would be a good result for them and a solid base for qualifying in 2014.