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Kona Pro Rankings (KPR) – Some more Analysis

Now that I have all the Ironman results from the last few years in my database, I am able to have a look at the impact of the KPR and how some changes would influence the list of qualified athletes. If you have some more questions that I can look into, please drop me an email or let me know in the comments. I’ve got at least one more question I want to look into, but I’m saving that for another post.

Switching to a two year qualifying cycle

This was a question John Newsom from the fabulous IMTalk podcast had asked quite a while back. It is a bit tricky to answer because you first have to establish some ground rules. So here is what I think would be reasonable for a two year qualifying cycle in order to select athletes for Kona 2011:

  • the first race that counts is IM Wisconsin 2009 (instead of 2010 as it was for the one year cycle), the last ones are IM Canada and IM Louisville 2011 (the same as now)
  • you have to race at least one additional Ironman to IM Hawaii to be eligible

While these are pretty obvious and not an area for discussion, the following two may be a bit controversial

  • only IM Hawaii 2010 counts towards qualifying for 2011
  • the total number of results counting towards the KPR remains at five

However, I think these two are sensible choices for a two year qualifying cycle.

First, a little disclaimer: As I don’t have all the 70.3 results in my database, I just used the 2011 results. Therefore, my calculations are not 100% accurate – but they should give us a good indication of how things chance.

With that out of the way, let’s have a look at some athletes that wouldn’t have qualified under my “KPR 2 year rules”:

  • Male: Michael Lovato, Mike Schifferle, James Cunnama, Dirk Bockel, Paul Amey, Joe Gambles, Michael Goehner
  • Female: Maki Nishiuki, Sam Warriner, Miranda Alldritt, Jackie Arendt, Jackie Gordon

Most of these athletes were pretty close to the one-year-cutoff-line and were just overtaken by athletes with relatively better 2010 results:

  • Male: Scott Neyedli, Christian Brader, Uwe Widmann, Stephen Bayliss, Mike Aigroz, Paul Ambrose
  • Female: Meredith Kessler, Eva Dollinger, Meike Krebs, Hillary Biscay

Some of these were injured and couldn’t rack up enough points in 2011 (Neyedli, Bayliss, Kessler) and some ended their career (Widmann?). Hillary Biscay just had some more races that she could score at, which helped her get decent points races count toward the five races.

All in all, from a points perspective nothing much would have changed. But there is still some more room for speculation: What influence would the “relaxed” requirement of “one IM outside of Hawaii in two years” (instead of one year) have had?

  • No change for Crowie – he hadn’t raced an IM outside of Kona for quite some time
  • Andreas Raelert would probably have skipped IM Regensburg – we won’t be able to assess what impact this race is going to have on his race until after Kona
  • Macca would have been eligible for Kona 2011 – now this would be an interesting point: Would he have changed his mind late in the summer after his DNF in London to switch back to IM racing and another Hawaii start? (I for one think it’s too bad that the champ is not going to be back to defend his title.)

I think this last point is the only one that leads to a potential improvement for the Kona field: Lower the requirements for past Kona champions to get back into the race. While it is understandable that WTC wants to have everyone qualify by racing in an IM during the year, the addition of a past winner could change the dynamics of the race. I would propose something like a one or two year automatic spot for the winner of a race or lower the requirement to “just” a 70.3 race.

No points from 70.3 races

One more question that I have seen discussed is weather results from 70.3 races should be included in the Kona points.

First let’s have a look at athletes that wouldn’t have qualified without points from the 70.3 races:

  • Male: Andy Potts, Chris Lieto, Rasmus  Henning, Andi Boecherer, Paul Amey
  • Female: Linsey Corbin, Caitlin Snow, Sam Warriner, Amanda Stevens

Who would have made it in instead:

  • Male: Dirk Wijnalda, Mike Aigroz, Stephan Vuckovic
  • Female: Hillary Biscay, Jackie Arendt, Fernanda Keller

Both “fields” are pretty close to one another, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d probably choose those that made it in with their 70.3 points. However, this is not a sign that the KPR is “good” at choosing the “right” athletes – it is more a consequence of people knowing that they could get enough points in 70.3 races and planned their season accordingly. From a business standpoint, WTC’s decision to count 70.3 points toward Kona is helping the 70.3 races. If they didn’t do this, the 70.3 series would have been seriously impacted by the requirement to race at least one Ironman race to validate a spot. Also, it favors the WTC core market (North America) which has a lot more 70.3 races than the rest of the world.

Overall, I don’t see any pressing need to change the current scheme.

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