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.
Here’s a look at the front end of the women’s race:
- I expect Jodie Swallow to set the pace for the first two legs. She’s been leading by a huge margin after the swim and bike in all her races so far. She might race a bit more cautious in Kona, but I can’t see her not being at least in the lead group on the bike.
- The main athlete with a better bike rating than Jodie is “Xena” (Caroline Steffen). Nominally, she’ll probably loose four to five minutes to Jodie in the swim, and should then at least narrow the gap to about two minutes at the end of the bike. I expect her to take the lead early in the run, and this year, she should be able to hold on to the lead and win her first Kona title.
- I expect a number of women to finish the swim close to Caroline: Rachel, Leanda, Mary Beth and Anja Beranek. It’ll be interesting to see if they try to follow Caroline on the bike – similar to what we saw last year (hopefully without any penalties). Based on the ratings, Rachel and Leanda should be able to run a little bit better than Caroline, so it could become a really close and interesting run if they finish the bike with Xena.
- Yvonne Van Vlerken also has a slightly better bike rating than Jodie, and she also has a pretty good run. If she has a great swim and manages to not loose more than five to seven minutes, she should quickly bike into the “main group” and help them speed things up. However, a lot of things have to go right for her (and wrong for the others) in order to contend for a Kona win this year.
- The two strongest runners in the field are Mirinda Carefrae and Sonja Tajsich. Compared to Xena, they should be able to make up 13 minutes (Rinnie) and 8 minutes (Sonja). Both have been relatively quite this year, but I’m sure that they will try to deliver a special performance in Kona. It also seems that Rinnie was focusing 100% on Kona this year and wants to deliver a better performance than last year when she seemed to be running to the front but ran out of steam.
The race for the title is very interesting, but even more athletes will be happy with a Top 10 or Top 12 finish. This should give women athletes enough KPR points for a Kona 2014 spot – as long as they finish a validation race and maybe add a decent 70.3 result. Behind the Top 9 athletes that I’ve put into the first graph, there is a little gap to the next athletes – but then there is a group of 10 athletes that will probably finish within seven minutes:
These athletes will be relatively close together after the bike, but positions will change a lot on the run:
- The better runners (Liz, Gina, Linsey and also Natascha) should come out at the front of these athletes with expected run times between 3:10 and 3:14h.
- Caitlin Snow runs on the almost the same level as Rinnie (3:02 vs. 3:00 for Rinnie), and she should be able to advance from almost last in the women’s Pro race after the bike to close to the Top 10.
- Athletes such as Meredith, Rebekah, Heather, Amy or Erika are expected to run a bit slower, probably in the 3:16 to 3:28 range. However, any of them is a good enough athlete that they may have a great day and finish much higher than expected.