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Thorsten’s Triathlon Rating “TTR” – First Results

I’ve worked on a first version of a triathlon rating system, focused on long-course athletes. For now, the races I have analyzed are limited to the males pros in IM Hawaii races from 2005 to 2010. (A big thank you to Craig Harris, who was making these available as an Excel file to me. Craig has an interesting little stats site.) I plan to extend that to female pros and add more races in the future, but even with this limited data there are some pretty interesting results.

TTR Top10 Rated Athletes

In TTR, a rating is expressed as a time. This time is based on the previous results if the athlete and represents the expected finishing time in an “average” race in “average” conditions.

Here are the Top10 Athletes:

Rank Name Rating
1 Raelert, Andreas 08:16:45
2 McCormack, Chris 08:18:05
3 Alexander, Craig 08:18:33
4 Bockel, Dirk 08:24:56
5 Tissink, Raynard 08:25:25
6 Al-Sultan, Faris 08:26:10
7 Llanos, Eneko 08:26:29
8 Vanhoenacker, Marino 08:30:52
9 Brown, Cameron 08:32:50
10 Potts, Andy 08:33:15

In order to be included in this list the athletes have to have more than one race and the last race cannot be more than four years old. (In fact, all these athletes have raced in IM Hawaii 2010.)

A lot of big names in this list, and certainly no surprises in the first three names. In order to validate the list, let’s have a closer look at the results of Andreas, Macca and Crowie:

Name 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Andreas 8:24:32 8:12:17
Macca 8:23:52 8:13:07 8:15:34 8:25:20 8:10:37
Crowie 8:19:04 8:17:45 8:20:21 8:16:53

Between Andreas and Macca, the two races that they went head-to-head in Hawaii are pretty even, probably with a little advantage to Macca. However, Macca has had some slower races in the past, and that leads to a slightly better rating for Andreas. (That advantage should get a bit larger when this summer’s IM Germany is included in the ratings.)  Looking at Macca and Crowie, Macca was able to win two of the three races that both finished. Again, it makes sense that Macca comes a little bit ahead.

Comparing the Years

Here are the numbers comparing the results of the different years:

Year Adjustment
2005 n/a
2006 128
2007 309
2008 -68
2009 -500
2010 298

What the “adjustment” means is that for example 2009 was 500 seconds (or about 8 1/2 minutes) slower (compared to the base number of the 2005 race). If you look at the results of the top 3 rated athletes in the previous section, you can notice that the 2009 times were quite a bit slower than the 2010 races. In fact, on average the 2010 times should be 500+298 seconds = 798 seconds or 13 minutes 18 seconds quicker than in 2009. Macca was even a little bit better (almost 15 minutes, so he consequently placed higher up and won the race), while Crowie’s PR time (but only 3 1/2 minutes faster)  was not good enough for a top 3 finish in 2010.

Another observation is that both of Macca’s wins (in 2007 and 2010) came in “fast” races – probably consistent with his observation that he struggles in hotter conditions.

Averaging these adjustments, you get a “course rating” for IM Hawaii of –33 seconds. This course rating will get more important in the future when I’m going to analyze results on different courses that will help compare the different courses.

TTR Top10 Performances

Another interesting look is at the top 10 adjusted performances in Kona. The adjusted result accounts for “harder” and “easier” races:

Rank Name Adjusted Result Actual Result Race
1 Alexander, Craig 08:12:01 08:20:21 IM Hawaii on 2009-10-10
2 Stadler, Normann 08:14:04 08:11:56 IM Hawaii on 2006-10-21
3 Al-Sultan, Faris 08:14:17 08:14:17 IM Hawaii on 2005-10-15
4 Lieto, Chris 08:14:36 08:22:56 IM Hawaii on 2009-10-10
5 McCormack, Chris 08:15:15 08:13:07 IM Hawaii on 2006-10-21
6 McCormack, Chris 08:15:35 08:10:37 IM Hawaii on 2010-10-09
7 Raelert, Andreas 08:16:12 08:24:32 IM Hawaii on 2009-10-10
8 Alexander, Craig 08:16:37 08:17:45 IM Hawaii on 2008-10-11
9 McCormack, Chris 08:17:00 08:25:20 IM Hawaii on 2009-10-10
10 Raelert, Andreas 08:17:15 08:12:17 IM Hawaii on 2010-10-09

(The absence of any 2007 results looks a bit suspicious to me, I’ll have a closer look at this and may adjust the scoring system accordingly – after all this is pretty much “work in progress” and if you spot any more inconsistencies, please let me know in the comments!)

Interestingly, this time Crowie has the best result (from his win in the “slow” 2009– 8:20:21 minus 500 seconds). What is evident is the “Aussie dominance” of Crowie and Macca – they both have three results in the Top 10 which is not surprising when you look at the success these two athletes have had in Hawaii.

Looking closer at the Macca results, his best performance was not in the two years he has won the race, but in 2006 when he lost to Normann Stadler – a year when he was really happy with his performance and some of his comments rubbed some people the wrong way.


I want to continue to work on TTR and extend it a bit. Here are some pointers on what I have in mind:

  • As noted above, I’ll investigate some of the questions I have with regards to some inconsistencies and oddities and probably adjust the algorithm a bit. I also have to work a bit more on my data base to make sure I can correctly group the results for an athlete.
  • I want to extend the results to include female pros. At this point I’m not sure if I want to just “lump” them into the male results (probably okay for a Chrissie Wellington, but maybe a bit harsh for second or third tier athletes).
  • I want to extend the analysis to more races, both on the IM calendar and for other big IM races (notably the Challenge Series), but that depends on getting more results. I’ll also have to think about getting the results into my database without too much manual overhead.
  • For now I’ve looked at the final times, it would be great to extend this to the individual disciplines and draw some more conclusions from that.
  • It should be possible to do the rating for agegroupers and shorter distances (IM 70.3 and Olympic distance). There would be too many athletes and races to cover – probably a bit too much work for a side project.

Let me know what else you would like to see covered.

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