Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Kona Slot - Can I do it?

As the excitement of watching live streaming video from the 2015 Kona Ironman Championship passes, my thoughts turn to grabbing a Kona slot for myself. To do that I'll have to best a field of what will undoubtedly be a host of well trained and experienced triathletes.  All anyone can do is their best and that's what I plan to do. Not only is qualifying dependent upon ones fitness, but it's also a numbers game. Will my fitness put me in a position to receive one of the few available slots allocated for my age-group and will there be enough participants in my age-group to receive ample slots. 

The 2015 Ironman Chattanooga race, often referred to as IMChoo or IM Chatt, has just finished and I'm registered to race there next year. With that in mind I thought I'd try to find out who qualified for the Kona slots in the 2015 race for my age-group and if there was any rolldown.  A rolldown is when a finisher completed the race and qualifies for a Kona slot but chooses not to accept.  The slot then moves on to the next eligible participant. Each age-group is allotted a certain number of slots depending upon the number of eligible participants who finished the race in that age-group.  Ironman has a formula for the whole thing.  Some age-groups receive 1 slot and others may receive 3 slots.  Different races have varying numbers of slots.  In the case of Ironman Chattanooga there are 50 available Kona slots to spread across 12 age-groups and both genders.  Below is a list from the 2015 IMChoo awards presentation and Kona slots allocation ceremony which took place on the Monday after the race. The information was provided by an attendee at the ceremony and posted the slot information on the forum. One must attend the ceremony to accept the slot. The folks at World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owner of the Ironman branded races, won't

The list below is the age-groups followed by the gender and the finishing position at the 2015 IM Choo race for those participants who received a Kona slot.  For example for the 50 to 54 age-group male competitors, Kona slots went to the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th place finishers.  The 3rd place finisher either declined the slot or didn't attend the ceremony therefore the slot rolled down to allow the 5th place finisher to collect the 4th and final available slot. As you can see, only 3 age-groups rolled down, 18-24, 35-39, and 50-54 all in the men's divisions.  If one were to add all the 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s they would see they add up to 50.
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Kona Slot Allocations by Age-Group, Gender & Place
25-29w-1st, 2nd
25-29m-1st, 2nd
30-34w-1st, 2nd
30-34m-1st, 2nd, 3rd
35-39w-1st, 2nd, 3rd
35-39m-1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th
40-44w-1st, 2nd, 3rd
40-44m-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
45-49w-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
45-49m-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
50-54w-1st, 2nd
50-54m-1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th
55-59w-1st, 2nd
55-59m-1st, 2nd
70-74w-only 1 finisher, declined slot, reallocated to 45-49w
75-79w-0-not sure which AG this was reallocated to
75-79m-0-not sure which AG this was reallocated to
The allocation of slots at IMChoo was further complicated by the fact that those who wore wetsuits for the swim segment were ineligible to receive awards or Kona slots. They were still eligible to received finisher's medals. Only those who swam without wetsuits were eligible for age-group awards and Kona slots. The decision to make a race wetsuit legal or not is solely dependent upon water temperature. A water temperature warmer than 76.2 degrees is the cutoff.
 *athletes who choose to wear a wetsuit in water temperatures between 76.2 degrees Fahrenheit (24.55 degrees Celsius) and 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit (28.8 degrees Celsius) will not be eligible for age Group awards, including IRONMAN World Championship slots or Rolldown slots.
In this race 601 athletes chose to swim with a wetsuit and 1653 athlete chose to swim without. That's a total of 2254 participants on race day including those that Did Not Finish (DNF) or were Disqualified (DQ). That total is only 84 percent of the original 2674 participants who registered to race. So, 420 people paid $700, or $1,400 for an Ironman Foundation slot, to register for this race but chose not to compete.

2015 Ironman Chattanooga Top 10 Finishers in the 55-59 Male Age-Group 
More specifically, these three participants all finished in the top 10 percent overall. You'll note that the difference in Mr. Lewis' finish time and that of Mr. Gutowski is over 50 minutes. Mr. Swartzel finished only 5 minutes after the second place finisher but since the Kona slots didn't rolldown he was out of luck.

2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 1st Place Finisher Results
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 2nd Place Finisher Results
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 3rd Place Finisher Results
I post these results to remind myself what is required for me to gain one of these coveted Kona slots and that I won't know if I even have a chance unless I attend the awards ceremony. Unfortunately Ironman doesn't post the names of those who received Kona slots as they did in years past.  Now, those who are interested have to do a bit of investigative work. It's not a big deal. I just like knowing what to expect before race day.

I guess what I can glean from this is I need to finish the race in about 10:30.  Subtract about 10 minutes for transitions and that leaves 10:20 of racing. I'm not expecting my swim to improve much so lets go with a 1:05 there.  That leaves 9:15 for the running and cycling. I may be optimistic but I'm hoping for an average speed of 22 mph on the bike. That puts the bike right at 5 hours which leaves just 4:15 minutes for the run. It sounds so easy!

I give massive kudos to Mr. Lewis, Mr. Gutowski, and Mr. Swartzel for an awesome race. I hope I can do as well next year.

2011 Ironman Florida Results
2013 Ironman Florida Results
To boost my self esteem I've included my 2011 and 2013 Ironman Florida results.  For some reason my 2013 results don't show my swim time. They were combined in my T-1 time. I know I completed that wetsuit legal swim segment in just over 1:20:00. Taking into account that the Chattanooga swim is downstream and my swim pace at the 2013 Ironman August 70.3, also with  the current, was 1:29/100m means I could have a chance. If I could just use my run time from 2011 and my bike time from 2013 I think Susan and I could be on our way to Kona.

Everyone who has done an Ironman knows that these races are just and much mental as they are physical. Right now I'm working on the mental part by asking myself - Can I do it?

Maybe I'm over thinking this. Nah!!!

Thanks for reading.

Update: The World Triathlon Corporation has decided to reduce the number of available slots in next year's IMChoo race from 50 to 40.  Well that's gonna change things a bit!