Ironman Texas 2018 – Analyzing Results

Course Conditions

As you can see from a quick glimpse at the results, this year’s IM Texas was super-fast. This first impression is also supported by my analysis of athlete’s performances, cross-referencing their times from other courses to IM Texas. Compared to previous editions, the results of Pro athletes this year have been about 12 minutes faster on average than last year. The swim and bike have been pretty normal for IM Texas. Even with Matt Hanson’s winning marathon time of 2:34:39, the run course was on the same course as in previous years, the times may even have been slightly slower.

The discussion on various social media is focused on the bike times. (The bike leg is where the times were much faster than in previous years.) Part of it was from a shortened course, as acknowledged by Ironman Texas on their Facebook page:

NewImage

I’m not sure if this FB post is telling the whole story of the bike course length: By a number of accounts the course was short last year, and the course maps showed that it was shortened even more for this year. However, it is nice that Ironman acknowledges the course was short and not eligible for any records. I will also consider the IM Texas results “invalid” and will not use them for fastest times or performances. (The comparisons between expected and actual times in the tables below are my best effort of analyzing the race.)

But even the shortened bike course is not telling the real story of the fast bike times at IM Texas. By almost all accounts from the race, there was rampant drafting going on during the bike leg, both in the Pro and agegroup ranks. Here are just a few observations from social media about the race:

  • In the briefing, the Pros were told that there likely wouldn’t be any draft marshaling in the second loop of the bike (Tweet by Ray Botelho).
  • Because of the crowding on the bike course, marshalls were pulled off the course during the race (Tweet by Tim Vibrock).
  • The main part of the bike course is an out-and-back on the three-lane Hardy Road. One lane is supposed to be for the out-leg, one for the back-leg and the third lane (the shoulder lane) for marshalls. Apparently this breaks down as soon as the bulk of AGs enters the road, and it’s no longer safe for officials to use the third lane (series of tweets by Kirk Noyes).
  • At least one Pro, Dimity-Lee Duke, abandoned the race when she didn’t want to join in the drafting going on (see her Instagram post).

While there were some crazy fast times on the bike (such as Andy Starykowicz’s 3:55, more than 8 minutes faster than anyone else in the field, or Jen Annett’s 4:25 followed by 4:27s and a 4:29) and also on the run (not only Matt Hanson’s 2:34:39, two sub-3 runs in the female field by Mel Hauschildt and Lesley Smith and also a number of what would have been PRs), the shortened bike course and the drafting make any “what would have been” a pure guessing game.

All in all, it was disappointing to see a Regional Championship provide such a frustrating race for most everyone involved. Of course there is a personal responsibility not to draft, but when there is no effort in enforcing the drafting rules and packs are forming, no one is held to a standard that is expected of Pro athletes (and age groupers as well).

The race organizers worked hard to come up with a course that’s acceptable to all communities involved. But Ironman could always be trusted to provide a good, reliable racing experience, and this year’s IM Texas fell short of that standard. I hope that the organizers will address the issues for future races in Texas.

Male Race Results

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time (Diff to exp.) Prize Money KPR Points
1 Matt Hanson USA 00:52:31 04:07:27 02:34:39 07:39:25 -26:33 US$ 30,000 4000
2 Ivan Tutukin RUS 00:49:30 04:10:21 02:35:19 07:39:57 -19:10 US$ 15,000 3400
3 Will Clarke GBR 00:49:49 04:09:58 02:40:43 07:45:22 -18:43 US$ 8,000 2890
4 Tim Van Berkel AUS 07:47:43 -08:17 US$ 6,500 2455
5 Jan van Berkel SUI 00:49:28 04:10:14 02:44:17 07:48:40 -16:21 US$ 5,000 2090
6 Brent McMahon CAN 00:49:26 04:10:26 02:44:52 07:49:49 02:26 US$ 3,500 1670
7 Ruedi Wild SUI 00:49:22 04:10:22 02:45:00 07:50:19 -08:32 US$ 2,500 1335
8 Andrew Starykowicz USA 00:49:27 03:54:59 03:00:57 07:50:56 -15:27 US$ 2,000 1070
9 Frederik Van Lierde BEL 00:49:25 04:10:29 02:48:32 07:53:43 -01:29 US$ 1,500 855
10 Johann Ackermann GER 00:49:15 04:03:19 02:59:38 07:57:02 -14:07 US$ 1,000 685
11 Jeremy Jurkiewicz FRA 02:55:00 07:58:45 -11:23 515
12 David Plese SLO 00:54:09 04:13:36 02:47:07 08:00:33 -06:03 385
13 Paul Matthews AUS 00:49:23 04:10:48 03:01:35 08:06:14 03:57 290
14 Matthew Russell USA 00:54:07 04:05:56 03:02:38 08:07:42 03:55 215
15 Matic Modic SLO 00:56:44 04:14:15 02:53:05 08:09:39 -09:08 160
16 Samuel Huerzeler SUI 00:54:47 04:11:48 02:58:13 08:10:43 -06:22 120
17 Kristian Hoegenhaug DEN 00:54:55 04:11:31 02:59:33 08:11:49 16:25 90
18 Daniil Sapunov UKR 00:49:31 04:15:36 03:01:58 08:12:48 -02:55 70
19 Justin Daerr USA 00:52:21 04:19:46 03:01:43 08:19:07 06:50 50
20 Jesse Vondracek USA 00:52:41 04:17:55 03:04:10 08:20:21 -15:42 40
21 Sebastian Najmowicz POL 00:49:33 04:20:47 03:05:55 08:21:51 n/a 25
22 Alexander Chikin RUS 00:56:16 04:19:42 03:03:07 08:25:22 -12:53 25
23 Blake Becker USA 00:58:52 04:21:52 03:02:17 08:28:17 -21:44 25
24 Seppe Odeyn BEL 01:09:15 04:21:15 02:53:41 08:30:07 -07:46 25
25 James Capparell USA 00:49:32 04:21:43 03:15:45 08:32:24 -00:54 25
26 Jozsef Major HUN 00:59:12 04:27:30 03:02:51 08:37:28 20:47 25
27 Raymond Botelho USA 00:58:57 04:20:20 03:17:31 08:43:03 -07:33 25
28 Jordan Monnink CAN 00:56:53 04:33:08 03:06:53 08:43:40 06:41 25
29 James Lubinski USA 01:07:13 04:24:34 03:09:21 08:47:01 03:34 25
30 Mike Schifferle SUI 01:03:43 04:26:35 03:18:31 08:58:03 17:22 25
31 Peter Kotland CZE 00:59:00 04:34:34 03:24:48 09:05:49 -09:12 20
32 Per Bittner GER 00:54:47 04:33:03 03:41:52 09:15:13 1:08:13 20
33 Tripp Hipple USA 00:53:42 04:18:37 03:56:42 09:15:16 58:44 20
34 Max Biessmann USA 00:52:25 04:25:18 03:53:10 09:16:20 -23:30 20
35 Ohad Sinai ISR 01:05:52 04:28:26 03:46:25 09:27:14 -04:17 20
36 Christopher Stock USA 01:09:25 04:31:12 03:59:04 09:50:11 n/a 20
37 Ignacio Rubio Gomez ESP 00:59:20 04:42:53 05:15:08 11:06:53 25:48 20
Michael Fox AUS 00:49:08 04:10:54 DNF
Sean Donnelly GER 00:49:06 04:15:29 DNF
Mikolaj Luft POL 00:53:52 04:16:51 DNF
Trevor Delsaut FRA 00:54:52 04:48:43 DNF

Tim Berkel lost hos timing chip in the swim and his maraton time in the results (2:51) does not correspond to how the race developed. By his own data he swam in the 49-minute group, rode a 4:10 (coming off the bike in 4th place) and then ran a 2:43. Jeremy Jurkiewicz probably also had issues with his chip, I’m not sure how accurate his marathon time is.

Female Race Results

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time (Diff to exp.) Prize Money KPR Points
1 Melissa Hauschildt AUS 00:59:07 04:29:55 02:57:07 08:31:05 -17:16 US$ 30,000 4000
2 Jodie Robertson USA 01:00:42 04:27:30 03:08:52 08:43:16 -14:10 US$ 15,000 3400
3 Lesley Smith USA 00:57:50 04:39:56 02:58:47 08:43:51 -23:04 US$ 8,000 2890
4 Michelle Vesterby DEN 00:56:05 04:33:11 03:11:20 08:45:47 -04:10 US$ 6,500 2455
5 Sara Svensk SWE 00:59:33 04:32:33 03:09:53 08:46:49 -19:54 US$ 5,000 2090
6 Meredith Kessler USA 00:53:47 04:34:32 03:13:27 08:47:44 03:37 US$ 3,500 1670
7 Jen Annett CAN 01:02:23 04:25:10 03:16:52 08:49:27 -12:11 US$ 2,500 1335
8 Kimberley Morrison GBR 00:56:23 04:27:45 03:21:54 08:50:59 -13:47 US$ 2,000 1070
9 Tine Deckers BEL 00:59:29 04:35:01 03:17:18 08:57:34 02:50 US$ 1,500 855
10 Darbi Roberts USA 00:56:19 04:41:32 03:15:27 08:59:03 -19:31 US$ 1,000 685
11 Caroline Gregory USA 00:59:31 04:43:00 03:17:18 09:05:06 -1:00:29 515
12 Helena Kotopulu CZE 01:12:20 04:45:39 03:09:55 09:15:02 -08:51 385
13 Lauren Brandon USA 00:48:19 04:38:15 03:48:20 09:20:16 19:18 290
14 Kelly Fillnow USA 01:07:56 04:46:43 03:20:33 09:21:26 -04:56 215
15 Robyn Hardage CAN 01:03:18 04:50:34 03:22:02 09:22:13 -14:54 160
16 Amanda Wendorff USA 01:02:26 04:34:46 03:56:19 09:39:51 09:49 120
17 Kimberly Goodell USA 01:03:46 04:52:41 03:40:03 09:43:13 07:45 90
Jocelyn McCauley USA 00:56:51 04:32:12 DNF
Dimity-Lee Duke AUS 00:59:39 DNF
Helena Herrero Gomez ESP 01:03:45 DNF
Ashley Paulson USA 01:19:00 DNF

Kona Qualifying Implications

Here are the top men and their Kona qualifying chances:

  • Automatic Qualifier: Matt Hanson, Frederik Van Lierde (validated his AQ as former Kona champion)
  • Safe: Tim Van Berkel, Ivan Tutukin and Andy Starykowicz
  • On the Bubble: Brent McMahon, Jan Van Berkel
  • Close (but more points needed): Ruedi Wild, Will Clarke, Jeremy Jurkiewicz

And a look at the females and their race to Kona:

  • Automatic Qualifier: Mel Hauschildt
  • Safe: Lesley Smith
  • On the Bubble: Tine Deckers
  • Close (but more points needed): Jodie Robertson, Michelle Vesterby

7 Responses to Ironman Texas 2018 – Analyzing Results

  1. David April 29, 2018 at 2:40 am #

    What were the actual distances? How about stating the facts outright instead of speculating? The 2018 IM TX course isn’t a legit 140.6 mile full IM course. The bike course is said to be 151kms instead of 180kms. What about all of the blatant drafting and doping, by pro’s and age group athletes? How about addressing reality?…….This sport is going down the tubes, nothing like it once was.

    • Edward May 1, 2018 at 12:00 am #

      The bike course is no where near that short. it was about 3 km short, not 29 km short. I have not seen a lot of blatant drafting in 11 IM 70.3’s and 3 IM’s. The main exception was IM70.3 World Champs in Austria in 2015. But this race in Texas looks like it might be the worst in history – likely because there were no officials on the course and it is flat and fast.

  2. Rob April 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm #

    Hey Thorsten,
    My Garmin files which were similar to other athletes I spoke to afterwards including Johann Ackerman had the swim as being long at just under 4K (obviously sighting and swimming off course can affect this for AG’rs but Johann is one of the top swimmers)
    Bike was between 176.8 and 178 depending on who you talk to.
    Run was 41.9-42k

    For what it’s worth it was the worst drafting I’ve ever seen at any race. The flip side is that the conditions were exceptionally fast, no wind for the early part of the bike and we were lucky enough to be also be aided by a decent tailwind for the last hour.

    I didn’t see one single draft marshal and i also didn’t see one athlete in the penalty tent.

    I loved the race but I won’t be back and I won’t race another flat one again.

  3. Edward April 30, 2018 at 11:54 pm #

    From the Garmin files I have seen, the bike course was exactly the same last year as this year – about 110 miles. That statement that they did a last-minute course shortening seems less than truthful.

  4. Michael May 3, 2018 at 6:19 pm #

    IMTX tried to lengthen the course in 2018 because the course in 2017 was 110 miles give or take. I participated in both 2017 and 2018 IM events. I have the GPS paths and although there are some differences in the route, the length of IMTX-2018 was actually about 300 m longer than IMTX-2017 (I download the GPS and then use GoogleEarth for a better and consistent measurement of the distance … gets away from the “is GPS accurate” debate … while GE may not be accurate either it is at least consistent). I used the same gear this year as last year (except a better helmet, so maybe I gained a minute in time). I did not draft at all in either 2017 or 2018. My training was about the same both years. This year I was 20 minutes faster than last year. The difference is the wind. This year, barely any wind, maybe 5 mph or so. Texas winds can be 20 mph sustained. Wind (or lack of it) made a big difference. Having said that, I did see at least 5 large pelotons of maybe 30 people on average. Maybe IM needs a new rule: if you are caught in a peloton, immediate DQ and off the course, your day is over.

  5. Greg May 22, 2018 at 9:48 pm #

    First, thanks for the write up. Appreciated as always.

    Here’s the skinny from someone who was there:

    – The swim was wetsuit legal.
    – Drafting on the bike was very bad. Drafting will save you only about 10-15 minutes for most though. The drafters arriving at T2 with fresh legs is maybe the bigger issue.
    – The course was ONLY a couple miles short. There are shorter IM races on the circuit and nobody complains about them.
    – The biggest factor on the bike wasn’t the drafting (a close second) or the short course. It was that there was practically no
    wind and the pavement is hot (low rolling resistance) and relatively smooth. There is more elevation than you would think. It is not “flat”
    -The marathon was just about bang on distance-wise. It was hot.

    What I learned from this race? If you’re competitive in your AG, stay away from courses with easy bike legs. It plays to the advantage of the weak and the cheaters. Lanzarote, now there’s a real test!

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