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How fast do the pros need to go to make it to Kona?

A look at the stats behind the professional qualifiers for the Ironman World Championship.

According to data analysis done by Thorsten Radde on Trirating.com, a sub-8:15 men’s performance and a sub-9:15 women’s finish is what it takes for pros to make it to the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Lucy Charles, Anne Haug and Sarah Crowley celebrate on the podium at the 2019 Ironman World Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

You can read Radde’s full story here.

Men’s summary

  • All the men who finished an Ironman qualifier race between 8:00 and 8:15 got themselves a pro spot on the Big Island, except for Braden Currie, who finished just 92 seconds behind Andrew Starykowicz (8:07:32 for Starykowicz, 8:09:04 for Currie) at Ironman New Zealand. Currie went on to win Ironman Cairns, the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, to nail his Kona slot.
  • Three men made it to Kona with times slower than 8:30 – Will Clarke and Frank Silvestrin in Brazil and David Dellow in Cairns. The strongest fields were, not surprisingly, at regional championships – South Africa topped the list followed by Germany and Texas.
  • Oh-so-close finishes that meant an athlete just missed a Kona slot included Franz Loeschke, who was just 11 seconds behind Jesper Svensson in Barcelona. Other close calls included Brent McMahon, who finished just 73 seconds behind Marc Duelsen in Lake Placid and Peru San Alfaro, who ended up 97 seconds behind Josh Amberger in Vitoria.
Brent McMahon at the finish of Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant. A month later he would just miss a qualifying slot for Kona at Ironman Lake Placid.

Women’s summary

For women to make it to the start line in Kona as a pro, they pretty much need to go under 9:15. There were a few qualifiers who went over 9:30, but they needed folks ahead of them to decline their spots. That happened for Danielle Mack did that in Boulder, Martina Kunz in Hamburg and Kelsey Withrow in Canada.

Even though there are fewer women’s slots for Kona, there were more rolldown slots (13) taken for the 2019 championship by women then men (11).

The strongest fields at Ironman qualifying events weren’t regional championships for the women – Ironman Arizona topped the list, with Ironman Mar del Plata next up.) The regional championships in South Africa, Texas and Cairns were next, but New Zealand and Copenhagen were close behind.

In terms of close calls, Canada’s Angela Naeth ended up just 45 seconds behind winner Svenja Thoes at Cozumel. In Texas Kim Morrison was passed near the line to finish 28 seconds behind Lesley Smith.

Angela Naeth on the bike at Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast. She just missed qualifying for the 2019 Ironman World Championship in Cozumel, but won Ironman Chattanooga last fall to nail her 2020 Kona slot. Photo: @higgybabyphotography