If history tells us anything, there are four men who have the best odds at taking the 2018 Kona crown.

If history tells us anything, there are four men who have the best odds at taking the 2018 Kona crown.

The last few years we’ve written about a trend in the professional men’s race at the Ironman World Championship that we noticed, and it continues to hold true each year.

It turns out experience (and past success) means a lot on the Big Island—and specifically in the men’s professional race. In 21 out of the last 22 years, the men’s winner at the Ironman World Championship finished in the top four the previous year. The only exception to that rule was when Germany’s Normann Stadler won in 2006 after a DNF in 2005 (the famous “too much glue” incident), but he had won the race in 2004. Twenty years ago, in 1996, Belgian Luc Van Lierde came out of nowhere to win the race, setting the course record (which was later broken by Craig Alexander and then by Patrick Lange) in his Kona debut.

If history is any indication, the 2018 Ironman Hawaii men’s champion will likely come from the top four men in 2017: winner Patrick Lange (GER), runner-up Lionel Sanders (CAN), third-place finisher David McNamee (GBR) or fourth-place finisher Sebastian Kienle (GER). Both Lange (2017) and Kienle (2014) have won the race before, but it would be a first for Sanders or McNamee.

Do you think this trend will hold true in 2018?

2017 winner: Patrick Lange (GER)
→ 2015 result: 3rd

2016 winner: Jan Frodeno (GER)
→ 2015 result: 1st

2015 winner: Jan Frodeno (GER)
→ 2014 result: 3rd

2014 winner: Sebastian Kienle (GER)
→ 2013 result: 3rd

2013 winner: Frederik Van Lierde (BEL)
→ 2012 result: 3rd

2012 winner: Pete Jacobs (AUS)
→ 2011 result: 2nd

2011 winner: Craig Alexander (AUS)
→ 2010 result: 4th

2010 winner: Chris McCormack (AUS)
→ 2009 result: 4th

2009 winner: Craig Alexander (AUS)
→ 2008 result: 1st

2008 winner: Craig Alexander (AUS)
→ 2007 result: 2nd

2007 winner: Chris McCormack (AUS)
→ 2006 result: 2nd

2006 winner: Normann Stadler (GER)
→ 2005 result: DNF (2004 result: 1st)

2005 winner: Faris Al-Sultan (GER)
→ 2004 result: 3rd

2004 winner: Normann Stadler (GER)
→ 2003 result: 4th

2003 winner: Peter Reid (CAN)
→ 2002 result: 2nd

2002 winner: Tim DeBoom (USA)
→ 2001 result: 1st

2001 winner: Tim DeBoom (USA)
→ 2000 result: 2nd

2000 winner: Peter Reid (CAN)
→ 1999 result: 2nd

1999 winner: Luc Van Lierde (BEL)
→ 1998 result: 2nd

1998 winner: Peter Reid (CAN)
→ 1997 result: 4th

1997 winner: Thomas Hellriegel (GER)
→ 1996 result: 2nd

1996 winner: Luc Van Lierde (BEL)
→ 1995 result: Did not race (1996 was his debut in Kona)