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Ironman Triathlon Money List

In other sports – such as golf – the main way of ranking athletes is by the amount of prize money they make. With all the data from the qualifying races, I’ve built one for Ironman Triathlons. It is also a convenient way of putting men and women in the same list.

Overall Money List

Here are the 20 athletes – both from the men and women – that have earned the most prize money in “official”, full-distance Ironman races in the Kona 2011 qualifying cycle:

Rank Name Total Prize Money (US $)
1 Mary Beth Ellis 28.500
2 Heather Wurtele 27.500
3 Chrissie Wellington 24.000
4 Eduardo Sturla 23.500
5 Mathias Hecht 21.000
6 Amy Marsh 20.000
7 Caroline Steffen 19.500
8 Lucie Zelenkova 19.000
9 Tyler Stewart 18.500
9 Erika Csomor 18.500
11 Silvia Felt 18.000
12 TJ Tollakson 17.500
13 Yvonne Van Vlerken 17.000
14 Timo Bracht 16.500
14 Kim Loeffler 16.500
16 Jordan Rapp 16.000
16 Jan Raphael 16.000
18 Catriona Morrison 15.000
18 Eneko Llanos 15.000
18 Jackie Arendt 15.000

Obviously, this does not include money from IM Hawaii as this would seriously skew the data. Also, IM 70.3 races are not included.


Men vs. Women

John Newsom (from the IMTalk podcast) asked if it was “easier” to make money in the sport as a woman. Here is my take on it based on the numbers:

  • There are fewer women overall on the money list than men (105 female vs. 121 male). Therefore it seems to be easier to earn some money – there were even a few races (IM Korea comes to mind) where not all price money was handed out for lack of eligible pro women in the race.
  • With the number of women in the TOP20 list above, it also seems to be easier for a woman to earn price money. I think this is mainly caused by fewer women battling for money, so you have a better chance to earn decent money when starting in a couple of races.

But can you live from it?

So it seems to be a good idea to become a Pro when you’re a women – but then I would be very surprised if the prize money from IM races is sufficient for any athlete to live from it. Especially after adding in the travel costs there won’t be too much money left. Also, every Pro athlete has to pay a pro fee to WTC (if I remember correctly 750$). It is always hard to compare athletes between different sports, but in golf the Top 99 athletes on the money list earn more than 1 million dollars – triathlon still has a long way to go before reaching that level of money!

It would be interesting to see how much money people were able to make from 70.3s, but the larger number of races is offset by the usual smaller prize money – so I’d be surprised if a significant number of athletes makes more than a few thousand dollars. Other (even long distance) races exist, maybe even paying decent prize money – but again, I don’t think that this will be a main source of income.

So how can people survive doing long course triathlons? Other than a select few top athletes, I don’t think that appearance money plays a significant role. The same is true for sponsorship money – the typical athletes will probably mostly get “paid” in free product, rather than money.

So unless you are a TOP 10 in Kona, I don’t think you can live from long course triathlon. And unless you win in Kona, I don’t think there’ll be much money left over after your career to retire from or even to live comfortably for a few years. Economically, your time will be better spent going to a decent university and getting your professional career started in a traditional “desk job”. But who wouldn’t rather train all day?

IM Western Australia 2011 – Analyzing Results

Race Conditions

This year was one of the slower races for Western Australia – the adjustment was 7:30 compared to the new course rating of 11:16 (down from 11:54), so it was about four minutes slower than the average of the last years.

Male Results

Timo Bracht had to come up with another strong run to catch a courageous Clayton Fettel:

Rank Name Nation Actual Time Expected Time
1 Timo Bracht GER 08:12:39 08:17:14
2 Clayton Fettell AUS 08:19:02 08:37:14
3 Jason Shortis AUS 08:27:31 08:50:51
4 Joshua Rix   08:30:59 09:14:24
5 Aaron Farlow AUS 08:34:09 08:31:27
6 Petr Vabrousek CZE 08:35:08 08:51:14
7 Mitchell Anderson AUS 08:35:57 08:37:58
8 Simon Billeau FRA 08:38:06 08:48:05
9 Luke Whitmore AUS 08:54:35 08:59:20
10 Maik Twelsiek GER 08:56:10 08:32:29
11 Luke McKenzie AUS 09:03:44 08:35:03
12 Leon Griffin AUS 09:03:49 08:32:23
13 Guy Crawford AUS 09:10:50 08:55:10
14 Shinya Suganuma JPN 09:19:15 09:10:15
15 Mike Gee   09:22:49 n/a
16 Dion Harrison GBR 09:57:07 09:21:10
17 Hirotsugu Kuwabara JAP 10:47:05 10:03:18

Maik Twelsiek and Luke McKenzie were predicted to go quite a bit faster, but they already lined up their “validation” IM, so now they can – as well as  Timo Bracht – focus on their Kona 2012 prep.

Female Results

On the female side, IM rookie Michelle Bremer won her first IM. Pre-race favorite Kristin Moeller was 40 minutes slower than expected, so she dropped out of the prize money spots:

Rank Name Nation Actual Time Expected Time
1 Michelle Bremer NZL 09:25:38 n/a
2 Michelle Mitchell AUS 09:28:07 09:37:28
3 Carrie Lester AUS 09:32:44 09:36:25
4 Elly Franks AUS 09:37:51 10:21:46
5 Hillary Biscay USA 09:39:41 10:08:20
6 Kate Bevilaqua AUS 09:43:37 09:49:58
7 Yvette Grice GBR 09:53:33 10:12:04
8 Emi Shiono JPN 10:00:23 10:00:23
9 Kristin Moeller GER 10:07:05 09:26:48
10 Suzanne Blackborrow   10:31:51 n/a

IM Western Australia 2011 – Predictions

The final race of the Ironman 2011 season is coming up this weekend: Ironman Western Australia.

Previous Results

Western Australia is one of the quicker courses with the same course rating as IM Germany (11:54). Last year’s winners were Courtney Ogden (8:14) and Kate Bevilaqua (9:19).

Male Participants

Defending champion Courtney Ogden faces some very strong competition for his title – he has only the 8th best rating! (Still, he has the second highest odds for winning.) The favorite has to be Timo Bracht – apparently he is repeating his last season with an early qualifier to secure his spot for Kona:

Rank Name Nation Expected Time Rating Rank
1 Timo Bracht GER 08:13:08 08:24:14 7
2 Aaron Farlow AUS 08:27:14 08:38:39 28
3 Leon Griffin AUS 08:28:09 08:39:36 31
4 Maik Twelsiek GER 08:28:15 08:39:42 33
5 Luke McKenzie AUS 08:30:48 08:42:18 40
6 Clayton Fettell AUS 08:32:58 08:44:31 47
7 Mitchell Anderson AUS 08:33:41 08:45:15 54
8 Courtney Ogden AUS 08:34:32 08:46:07 59
9 Simon Billeau FRA 08:43:43 08:55:31 113
10 Jason Shortis AUS 08:46:28 08:58:19 125
11 Petr Vabrousek CZE 08:46:51 08:58:43 128
12 Guy Crawford AUS 08:50:45 09:02:42 150
13 Luke Whitmore AUS 08:54:52 09:06:55 175
14 Shinya Suganuma JPN 09:05:43 09:18:00 257
15 Chris Dmitrieff AUS 09:05:53 09:18:11 257
16 Dion Harrison GBR 09:16:32 09:29:04 345
17 James Bowstead NZL 09:24:40 09:37:23 401
18 Hirotsugu Kuwabara JAP 09:58:19 10:11:47 627

The odds for winning are as follows:

  • Timo Bracht: 60%
  • Courtney Ogden: 14%
  • Luke McKenzie: 9%
  • Mitchell Anderson: 7%
  • Jason Shortis: 4%
  • Maik Twelsiek: 3%
  • Aaron Farlow: 2%

Female Participants

Similar story on the women’s side: The defending champ (Kate Bevilaqua, ranked 4th) faces strong competition, even if the females athletes before her are not that well known:

Rank Name Nation Expected Time Rating Rank
1 Kristin Moeller GER 09:22:07 09:34:47 22
2 Carrie Lester AUS 09:31:40 09:44:32 46
3 Michelle Mitchell AUS 09:32:42 09:45:36 48
4 Kate Bevilaqua AUS 09:45:05 09:58:16 78
5 Emi Shiono JPN 09:55:25 10:08:50 110
6 Hillary Biscay USA 10:03:19 10:16:54 145
7 Yvette Grice GBR 10:07:01 10:20:41 157
8 Elly Franks AUS 10:16:38 10:30:31 183
9 Jodie Scott AUS 10:27:01 10:41:08 207
10 Michelle Bremer NZL n/a unrated n/a

The odds for winning are as follows (again the defending champ looks better in the odds than in the ratings):

  • Kristin Moeller: 35%
  • Kate Bevilaqua: 22%
  • Michelle Mitchell: 18%
  • Carrie Lester: 16%
  • Emi Shiono: 4%
  • Yvette Grice: 3%
  • Hillary Biscay: 2%
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