Which Ironman event gives me the best chance of qualifying for Hawaii?

 

 

 

A discussion of the data for the 2005-2007 qualifying seasons

Qualifying for Kona

 

Before you go any further you should have read the article on the methodology of this anaylsis.

 

So letís take a look at the data for the last three qualification periods and see what we may determine from the data. Firstly here is a chart of the HQCs for each event by year. The table below that shows the HQCs by Age Group and the detailed breakdowns by AG by year can be found at the foot of the page. Letís discuss the races individually. Please also note that Wisconsin, Florida and Western Australia take place in the previous calendar year to Hawaii. Thus when I discuss IMoo for the 2007 season the race actually took place in 2006.

Average HQC

Season 

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

Arizona

18.7%

22.6%

19.6%

20.3%

Lake Placid

20.4%

17.3%

19.3%

19.0%

Coeur D'alene

17.6%

21.2%

18.0%

18.9%

Louisville

 

 

18.9%

18.9%

New Zealand

18.2%

 

18.5%

18.3%

Malaysia

 

20.8%

15.4%

18.1%

Canada

22.4%

15.5%

16.2%

18.0%

France

21.2%

16.8%

15.4%

17.8%

South Africa

19.7%

14.9%

18.0%

17.5%

Korea

15.9%

 

18.0%

16.9%

Wisconsin

16.4%

22.0%

12.1%

16.8%

Germany

14.5%

18.9%

14.9%

16.1%

Brazil

14.6%

17.9%

15.2%

15.9%

Lanzarote

17.8%

15.6%

14.2%

15.9%

Japan

14.9%

16.1%

15.9%

15.7%

Australia

14.2%

15.3%

14.3%

14.6%

Switzerland

15.0%

15.1%

13.5%

14.5%

United Kingdom

16.2%

12.7%

14.4%

14.5%

Florida

14.8%

12.5%

13.7%

13.7%

Austria

13.3%

15.0%

12.6%

13.6%

Western Australia

11.4%

15.5%

11.3%

12.7%

Average

16.7%

17.0%

15.7%

16.4%

 

Arizona tops the list overall rating 5th place in 2005 and 1st in both 2006 and 2007. Over the last three seasons it rates as the best event for qualification in the M18 and M25 age groups with 3rd in M30, 4th in M35, 6th in M40 and 4th in M45. This is what I love. Not only does it come out first but the other parameters that I like to see are all there. Notably the consistency over time and across all the age groups and the above average number of slots. Strangely enough, although perhaps linked to this, is the fact that Arizona is one of the few IMs in North America that does not sell out in minutes. For the last two years the registration has not been a problem. So how about the course profile. Well its calendar placement is not ideal for many athletes. This early season event means that you really need to be out there in the winter months building your base. The temperatures could potentially require a non-wetsuit swim and with WTC looking at the speedskin issue quite closely this could mean that the non-swimmers amongst us (and that includes me) will have to spend a little more time in the pool instead of relying on artificial buoyancy. Wetsuits have been allowed in the first three editions of the event but it is probably not a perennial guarantee. In 2007 the bike course was typified by high winds which combined with the desert sand gave the participants something to think about. Heat is of course an issue on the run but then again that is a likely scenario in the majority of IM races. IM Marathon times are of course way off the times posted by our single sport cousins. Much more so than the bike and swim times. We often remind them of the 2.4 mile swim and the 112 mile bike warm up as an excuse, but we should also include the fact that most marathon races start at an early hour and are over before the temperature can seriously trouble the serious competitors. It is a fact of IM racing that if you are looking to do Kona Qualifying times then in the pleasant destinations that WTC have selected you are probably going to be starting your marathon at around 1:30 in the afternoon in temperatures upwards of 30 degrees centigrade. If your goal is not only to get to Kona, but to put in a good performance once you are there, then events in these kinds of conditions are the ones you should be aiming for anyway.

So Arizona tops the list as the best bet for Kona qualification and you can expect to find me at the starting line there in April 2008.

 

Lake Placid and Coeur Díalene. It is appropriate that these two events should place next to each other on the list in 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The data show consistency across the age groups but fluctuate by year. Most triathletes will figure out immediately why this is. The decision of the WTC to create a North American Championship race and alternate this race between these two locations over the last few seasons certainly has an impact over the qualifying requirements. Firstly, if you have read studiously the theory behind my methodology (and by the way if you havenít then much of this isnít going to make much sense to you) then you will understand that I have to fudge the Elite Reference Time for the year in which the Male Pros do not attend each of the races. For the year that they do attend the races one could argue that the ERT will be better than it would have been had the course not been designated as the NA championship race as the pro field is likely to be artificially stronger. I have not made any adjustment for this factor as it is probably supposition. What is clear from the data is that the Age Group field does vary according to this effect. Thus another notable conclusion to draw, and therefore to take into account for race selection, is that the quality of the menís pro field most certainly impacts the Age Group field. So if you are mulling over Arizona as your race choice and you read that Normann Stadler, Faris Al-Sultan, Chris McCormack have just signed up for the race, then you should be aware that their presence will attract a lot of good Age Groupers. Also note that the presence of Johathon ďJonnyOĒ Caron is likely to attract the vast majority the Slowtwitch community and a higher participation of womens. Despite spending half their lives glued to the forum, praising Cervelo and refining their sarcasm, STers nevertheless seem to find the time to maintain a higher standard of IM performance than the general population. If the kona slot is your goal then you are best selecting either of these races on the year that the pros (of your gender) are not attending. Registering for the race may be a problem as they tend to sell out within minutes.

 

Average HQC

Category

Event

M18

M25

M30

M35

M40

M45

Average

Arizona

24.1%

17.3%

16.7%

17.7%

20.8%

25.3%

20.3%

Lake Placid

20.4%

17.0%

16.3%

16.9%

19.5%

23.9%

19.0%

Coeur D'alene

18.8%

15.1%

16.8%

18.7%

21.5%

22.7%

18.9%

Louisville

14.7%

12.0%

13.2%

18.9%

22.3%

32.2%

18.9%

New Zealand

17.6%

16.3%

15.6%

17.6%

18.9%

24.0%

18.3%

Malaysia

18.8%

11.4%

15.2%

17.3%

20.9%

24.7%

18.1%

Canada

16.5%

15.7%

14.8%

16.9%

19.7%

24.8%

18.0%

France

19.7%

12.0%

11.9%

14.7%

19.9%

28.6%

17.8%

South Africa

17.8%

16.4%

14.6%

15.9%

21.1%

19.3%

17.5%

Korea

9.1%

14.0%

12.7%

19.6%

20.5%

25.8%

16.9%

Wisconsin

16.3%

15.5%

14.5%

15.9%

18.2%

20.5%

16.8%

Germany

13.2%

11.7%

14.8%

16.5%

17.9%

22.7%

16.1%

Brazil

13.2%

12.8%

16.9%

15.9%

16.7%

20.0%

15.9%

Lanzarote

7.6%

11.0%

15.1%

18.4%

19.8%

23.3%

15.9%

Japan

15.4%

10.5%

13.5%

15.5%

16.7%

22.4%

15.7%

Australia

10.6%

11.2%

11.2%

15.3%

18.9%

20.5%

14.6%

Switzerland

11.4%

11.3%

12.0%

15.2%

17.6%

19.7%

14.5%

United Kingdom

11.1%

10.3%

12.9%

13.9%

17.6%

20.9%

14.5%

Florida

14.1%

11.2%

11.5%

13.1%

14.2%

17.9%

13.7%

Austria

9.6%

11.4%

12.2%

13.7%

16.3%

18.6%

13.6%

Western Australia

11.7%

8.8%

12.1%

12.8%

14.1%

16.9%

12.7%

Average

14.8%

13.0%

14.0%

16.0%

18.5%

22.2%

16.4%

Louisville came in 4th on the list on its inaugural year. A few notes about this race then. Firstly one yearís data is probably not enough to determine whether this is truly where the HQC will end up on an ongoing basis. As the time of writing I would anticipate that there should not be much difference between the standard in the second year. Many good or experienced Age Groupers are somewhat reticent about participating in the early years of an event and adopt a wait-and-see policy. The Louisville organization was flawless for 2007, however by the time that most athletes would have known about that, they would have already had to commit to the other large North American races (Canada, Coeur Díalene, Lake Placid) if they so desired since the registration for these races closed before the feedback from IMKY filtered back to the population. Also the issue of the time trial start and the non wetsuit swim may impact some of decision making processes of some athletes. However look for IMKY to stiffen up in terms of the HQC from 2009 onwards but also look for the registration window to become shorter as the event gains momentum. The calendar placement in late august means that you might get a good roll down because a lot of athletes will not want a 6 or 7 week turn around before Kona. If you just want to get to Kona then this is fine, however if you want to perform a Kona then this short turnaround will not allow you to peak properly.

 

New Zealand takes fifth place on the list. It is one of the oldest IMs on the circuit and also has 80 slots available for the event. NZ is going to be a long way to travel if you are not local which means that despite its longevity IMNZ is not an immediate sell out so you can always get into the race. Additionally the early season calendar placement (early march) will put off a number of athletes, although the advantage is that it gives you 7 months to recover and re-peak for Kona. Note that weather conditions in 2006 forced the cancellation of the swim and the reduction of the bike and run to half distance. Again, IMNZ is a long way to travel to risk your day being ruined or curtailed by the weather.

 

Malaysia is 6th on the list but Iím going to have to provide a long list of concerns about making this a viable Kona qualification selection. The calendar placement is barely out of the winter training section. There are only 35 slots total for the event it has one of the highest slot acceptance rates on the circuit. So you need to be hitting a podium place whatever your age group which leaves you exposed somewhat to who decides to make this their race. The HQC varied significantly between 2006 and 2007 and note that poor weather conditions forced a curtailed race in 2005. I would love to do this race some day just for the destination; however I would have to exclude it as a safe Kona bet.

 

Canada comes next on the list. This is a well established event that lots of IM racers dream about doing if they could just get into the race. Registration normally closes out on site on the day following the race each year. The HQC has been trending downwards (more difficult) over the 3 years of data covered in the scope so it will likely fall down further down this list in the next few years. Itís a race that a lot of IMers would love to check the box on, but its 80 slots has already attracted a lot of good Age Groupers who are loyal to the race and are likely to remain so. Also its calendar placement of late august leaves a short turn around for Kona

 

France. Ahh Nice. My favourite IM on the circuit. If they could do something a little more interesting on the run then this race would be absolutely perfect. The positives for Nice are a great mid-june calendar placement, a wonderful swim and bike course, a great location and running temperatures that will certainly come close to those at Kona. However the HQC is coming down as the event gains popularity and the bike course requires a lot of climbing which is atypical of the Kona bike course. Thus your bike preparation will need to be different for both events. Nice has about the fastest swim course on the IM circuit. The conditions are idea, a salt water swim, wet suit legal and a ripple less, current less Mediterranean sea. So if you are a good swimmer then you will not be able to gain much advantage, but if you are a poor swimmer then this course will certainly limit the damage. Be certain to say hello to me if you see me in Nice in 2008 as I wouldnít miss this IM for anything.

 

South Africa. Contrary to Nice, which is absolutely the best course for poor swimmers, South Africa is a race that you should definitely consider if swimming is your strong suit. And letís go further and say that you need to be a strong ocean swimmer. The waves, swell, chop and current will leave more unclaimed bikes in T1 than any other IM on the circuit. In 2007 only 6 athletes exited the water in under 1 hour. Port Elizabeth can be extremely windy so you need to be comfortable and confident on the bike and wheel selection can potentially make or break your day. South Africa does not have a lot of slots, but the Rand exchange rate can be very prohibitive for South Africans to envisage a Kona trip. There are typically only a dozen or so South Africans a Kona each year. So the roll down can give you a break but this is by no means guaranteed. A great destination, but not the safest qualification bet.

 

Korea along with Louisville, Canada and the UK has the most unfavourable calendar placement at the end of August giving the shortest turnaround for Kona. It didnít seem to hurt Chrissie ďWhoĒ Wellington too much though. Many lay claim to the title, but Korea IS the hardest IM on the circuit with the slowest elite reference time. The course record is 8h37 and in only 2 of the last 5 years has the winning male gone under 9 hours. Inclement weather forced cancellations of the swim in 2004 and 2006 and its also going to be very hot. There are two many variables here to make this a recommended place to qualify, although a great destination event.

 

Wisconsin through my stats all over the place in the 2007 qualifying season. Along with Florida and Western Australia this is one of three events which take place in the previous year. So to qualify for Kona in 2008 you need to have already done Wisconsin in 2007. Hope you did well!! For my analysis I have only included the data up to the 2006 event since it is qualifying for the 2007 season. Wisconsin looked like a good bet for qualification if of course you are not already competing at Hawaii in the same calendar year. This means that all but the most hardened of the perennial Hawaii participants will not do IMoo (as it is affectionally known) so there might be some softness in the Elite reference time and the qualifying field. Up to the 2006 event the HQC look failry high and then it came in with a mind boggling 12%. Yes the elite reference time was even softer than usual, but the qualifying times really did stiffen up compared to 2005 and before. Qualification for 2008 held to the new standard so this has moved of my radar of good qualifying events

 

Germany. On initial perusal you would think that Germany should be a great event for qualifying with at total of 120 slots. This turns out to be highly misleading and there are a number of factors going against IM German as your qualifying event. The event sells out immediately. This is incredible as WTC made a tough call in 2005 to move away from one of the darling events on the calendar (Roth) and started another IM Germany in Frankfurt. Roth is still thriving without WTC but IM Germany managed to outsell it immediately and did so again in 2006 and 2007. These Germans are good no doubt about it and consequently Germany is the second most represented nation in Kona after the US. IM Germanyís 120 slots and the status of IM Europe combined with a nice mid-season calendar placement attracts the best that Germany and the rest of Europe has to offer. An additional attraction is the presence of Germanyís best Ironman Normann, Faris and the rest If you want to measure yourself against the best pros and age groupers in Europe then here is the place to do it, but if youíre borderline qualifying then you may want to wait for a few years to improve before having your Kona hopes dashed in Frankfurt. Timo Brachtís 8h15 meant that Germany was the fastest IM qualifying course in the 2007 qualifying season, a claim usually held by Austria.

 

Well that covers the top 12 of the 21 IM qualifying courses. Obviously that means that Brazil, Lanzarote, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, UK, Florida, Austria and Western Australia are in the tougher half of the qualifying circuit (in that order) so I wonít waste my time or yours by discussing them.

 

Finally Iíll leave you with an interesting piece of information which really demonstrates the importance of your race selection and also speaks volumes about IM racing in general. In IM Western Australia on Dec 2nd, 2006 there were two qualifying slots in the Menís 40-44 age group. 44 year old Sandy Burt recorded an astounding 8 hours 59 minutes and 43 seconds in this age groupÖÖ.. and failed to qualify. How sick is it that a 44 year old male can go sub 9 in an IM and not qualify for Kona? Yet he was beaten on the day by Stephen Hemy (8:55:57) and 44 year old Dave Boyes (8:56:15) who both took their slots. In fact Dave aged up to 45 when he got to Hawaii in 2007. Sandyís Kona 2007 dream did not end there though as he went to IM Korea 7 weeks prior to Kona and qualified in the M45-49 category with a 10h46 IM which won this age group.

 

AGE GROUP HQC TABLES

 

M18

Season

 

M25

Season

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

 

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

Arizona

25.5%

24.8%

22.0%

24.1%

 

Arizona

13.5%

21.7%

16.6%

17.3%

Lake Placid

23.9%

18.9%

18.3%

20.4%

 

Lake Placid

19.8%

14.0%

17.2%

17.0%

France

21.4%

17.5%

20.3%

19.7%

 

South Africa

21.0%

15.0%

13.3%

16.4%

Coeur D'alene

16.3%

23.8%

16.3%

18.8%

 

New Zealand

17.2%

 

15.3%

16.3%

Malaysia

 

24.9%

12.7%

18.8%

 

Canada

21.5%

11.9%

13.6%

15.7%

South Africa

21.8%

14.6%

17.0%

17.8%

 

Wisconsin

15.0%

21.9%

9.8%

15.5%

New Zealand

13.0%

 

22.2%

17.6%

 

Coeur D'alene

13.2%

17.0%

15.2%

15.1%

Canada

21.9%

13.2%

14.5%

16.5%

 

Korea

14.3%

 

13.8%

14.0%

Wisconsin

15.8%

23.2%

9.8%

16.3%

 

Brazil

11.5%

14.4%

12.5%

12.8%

Japan

17.2%

15.1%

13.8%

15.4%

 

Louisville

 

 

12.0%

12.0%

Louisville

 

 

14.7%

14.7%

 

France

13.6%

13.1%

9.3%

12.0%

Florida

20.7%

14.1%

7.5%

14.1%

 

Germany

12.2%

11.4%

11.5%

11.7%

Germany

11.0%

18.2%

10.4%

13.2%

 

Austria

9.9%

15.0%

9.3%

11.4%

Brazil

12.5%

13.4%

13.6%

13.2%

 

Malaysia

 

15.7%

7.1%

11.4%

Western Australia

10.2%

9.7%

15.1%

11.7%

 

Switzerland

12.4%

10.5%

11.0%

11.3%

Switzerland

12.7%

12.6%

9.0%

11.4%

 

Florida

13.4%

8.0%

12.1%

11.2%

United Kingdom

8.2%

11.9%

13.3%

11.1%

 

Australia

9.6%

12.5%

11.5%

11.2%

Australia

12.6%

12.8%

6.5%

10.6%

 

Lanzarote

9.2%

11.7%

12.2%

11.0%

Austria

11.4%

10.7%

6.7%

9.6%

 

Japan

10.2%

11.4%

9.8%

10.5%

Korea

7.8%

 

10.4%

9.1%

 

United Kingdom

11.9%

9.7%

9.3%

10.3%

Lanzarote

10.7%

4.9%

7.2%

7.6%

 

Western Australia

6.7%

12.0%

7.5%

8.8%

Average

15.5%

15.8%

13.4%

14.8%

 

Average

13.5%

13.7%

11.9%

13.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M30

Season

 

M35

Season

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

 

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

Brazil

15.0%

21.6%

14.2%

16.9%

 

Korea

16.9%

 

22.3%

19.6%

Coeur D'alene

16.0%

17.1%

17.1%

16.8%

 

Louisville

 

 

18.9%

18.9%

Arizona

13.7%

19.3%

17.1%

16.7%

 

Coeur D'alene

17.3%

19.9%

18.8%

18.7%

Lake Placid

17.3%

15.8%

15.9%

16.3%

 

Lanzarote

23.1%

16.8%

15.2%

18.4%

New Zealand

14.9%

 

16.4%

15.6%

 

Arizona

16.2%

20.4%

16.7%

17.7%

Malaysia

 

17.8%

12.6%

15.2%

 

New Zealand

17.4%

 

17.8%

17.6%

Lanzarote

18.5%

16.0%

10.8%

15.1%

 

Malaysia

 

16.2%

18.5%

17.3%

Canada

16.2%

14.1%

14.2%

14.8%

 

Lake Placid

17.4%

15.5%

17.8%

16.9%

Germany

13.0%

18.1%

13.2%

14.8%

 

Canada

19.2%

15.9%

15.5%

16.9%

South Africa

17.6%

11.4%

14.9%

14.6%

 

Germany

15.4%

17.4%

16.7%

16.5%

Wisconsin

14.3%

18.9%

10.5%

14.5%

 

South Africa

18.7%

13.9%

15.2%

15.9%

Japan

10.9%

15.5%

14.0%

13.5%

 

Wisconsin

16.5%

20.5%

10.6%

15.9%

Louisville

 

 

13.2%

13.2%

 

Brazil

14.7%

16.9%

16.0%

15.9%

United Kingdom

17.9%

8.0%

12.8%

12.9%

 

Japan

12.8%

10.7%

23.1%

15.5%

Korea

10.7%

 

14.6%

12.7%

 

Australia

13.8%

15.5%

16.6%

15.3%

Austria

10.7%

12.5%

13.2%

12.2%

 

Switzerland

15.3%

14.6%

15.9%

15.2%

Western Australia

10.9%

13.3%

12.0%

12.1%

 

France

16.3%

15.1%

12.9%

14.7%

Switzerland

12.6%

12.3%

11.0%

12.0%

 

United Kingdom

16.4%

12.9%

12.3%

13.9%

France

12.6%

12.1%

11.0%

11.9%

 

Austria

13.3%

14.4%

13.3%

13.7%

Florida

11.6%

10.0%

12.9%

11.5%

 

Florida

12.7%

12.7%

14.0%

13.1%

Australia

11.3%

11.4%

10.9%

11.2%

 

Western Australia

7.9%

16.3%

14.3%

12.8%

Average

14.0%

14.7%

13.5%

14.0%

 

Average

15.8%

15.9%

16.3%

16.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M40

Season

 

M45

Season

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

 

Event

2005

2006

2007

Average

Louisville

 

 

22.3%

22.3%

 

Louisville

 

 

32.2%

32.2%

Coeur D'alene

18.0%

26.6%

20.0%

21.5%

 

France

40.6%

23.0%

22.3%

28.6%

South Africa

19.0%

16.9%

27.4%

21.1%

 

Korea

25.4%

 

26.1%

25.8%

Malaysia

 

23.4%

18.5%

20.9%

 

Arizona

23.8%

27.4%

24.8%

25.3%

Arizona

19.6%

22.1%

20.6%

20.8%

 

Canada

32.2%

20.4%

21.7%

24.8%

Korea

20.1%

 

20.8%

20.5%

 

Malaysia

 

26.7%

22.8%

24.7%

France

22.5%

20.3%

16.7%

19.9%

 

New Zealand

25.5%

 

22.6%

24.0%

Lanzarote

21.4%

19.2%

18.7%

19.8%

 

Lake Placid

22.3%

20.7%

28.5%

23.9%

Canada

23.6%

17.8%

17.7%

19.7%

 

Lanzarote

24.0%

24.7%

21.2%

23.3%

Lake Placid

21.5%

18.8%

18.1%

19.5%

 

Germany

18.3%

29.0%

20.8%

22.7%

Australia

18.2%

19.2%

19.3%

18.9%

 

Coeur D'alene

24.6%

22.9%

20.6%

22.7%

New Zealand

21.2%

 

16.5%

18.9%

 

Japan

22.0%

24.7%

20.4%

22.4%

Wisconsin

18.1%

22.9%

13.8%

18.2%

 

United Kingdom

23.3%

17.6%

21.8%

20.9%

Germany

17.3%

19.4%

16.9%

17.9%

 

Wisconsin

18.5%

24.9%

18.0%

20.5%

United Kingdom

19.4%

16.3%

17.1%

17.6%

 

Australia

19.7%

20.7%

20.9%

20.5%

Switzerland

20.4%

16.1%

16.2%

17.6%

 

Brazil

19.0%

21.1%

19.9%

20.0%

Japan

16.2%

19.4%

14.6%

16.7%

 

Switzerland

16.6%

24.4%

18.0%

19.7%

Brazil

15.2%

20.0%

14.8%

16.7%

 

South Africa

20.0%

17.8%

20.2%

19.3%

Austria

14.3%

19.6%

15.2%

16.3%

 

Austria

20.0%

17.6%

18.1%

18.6%

Florida

13.4%

14.8%

14.4%

14.2%

 

Florida

17.1%

15.5%

21.2%

17.9%

Western Australia

13.1%

23.2%

6.0%

14.1%

 

Western Australia

19.5%

18.3%

12.9%

16.9%

Average

18.5%

19.8%

17.4%

18.5%

 

Average

22.8%

22.1%

21.7%

22.2%

 

 

Any comments  corrections and critique of this analysis will be warmly received and considered for improvement. Please send to neil@neilhammond,com