My series of “How the race might unfold” continues. It is a prediction that takes each athletes strengths and weaknesses into account. The graphs show who is in the lead (starting with “after swim”) and by how much the other athletes are behind as the race unfolds. I hope that this gives you a good indication of the names that will show up near the front over the day.
Here are the highlights:
- The field will be pretty close after the swim – probably 10 to 15 athletes within five minutes of the leader. The athlete with the best swim rating is Joe Umpenhour, but he just has two IM races and there are a lot of similarly rated athletes, so it’s almost impossible to predict who will lead after the swim.
- Once on the bike, I see Matthias Hecht taking the lead, but without being able to build a huge gap – there will probably still be 10 athletes within 10 minutes in T2. Then again, Matthias may try to repeat his 4:18 bike from last year and then follow that up with a sub-3h run.
- Usually, an Ironman gets decided on the run, and I don’t see that Texas will be an exception. The strongest runner – based on pre-race data, Jan Raphael – should be in the lead by the half-way mark. However, James Cunnama and Paul Amey, will be close enough to him after the bike, and they might form a three-person pack in order to chase down Matthias. I’m pretty confident that the winner will come from these four athletes.
- Outside of this group, the best runner is probably Pedro Gomes, but there are 7 athletes that are pretty close in capabilities and the order will depend on who is going to have a good or a bad day. Justin Daerr is in this group, but he will have to do something special to even repeat last year’s 2nd place finish.
While I expect to see pretty large groups in the men’s race, the women’s race will probably stretch out a bit more:
- The best-rated swimmer is Haley Churra – but she has only one IM result, so we might see some variation.
- On the bike, Amy Marsh and Rachel Joyce will close the gap to Haley, and these three will be pretty close together at the end of the bike while everyone else is back by more than 13 minutes.
- On the run, Rachel should be able to gap Amy, but “don’t mess with a Texan in Texas” (as someone said to me on Twitter).
- After the two top athletes, there is a group six athletes (Haley, Caitlin, Kathleen, Jessie, Ashley and Kim) that will fight for the last spot on the podium. I have the best runner Caitlin Snow in third place, but the differences are so small that it’ll depend on how people perform on race day.
Update May 16th: Both Jessie Donavan and Haley Churra have switched their entries to IM Brazil a week later.
Update May 17th: Caitlin Snow also won’t be racing Texas, she’s aiming for IM CdA now.