Data Dive: The Fastest and Slowest Ironman Races of 2022
The numbers are crunched, and the results are in. Data scientist Alfredo Molinas takes a look at the fastest and slowest Ironman races in 2022
As we wrap up 2022, we look back at a year that has not been a typical one in the long distance triathlon world: We celebrated not one, but two Ironman world championship races, and Asia has still been opening up only slowly. Still, the triathletes are all right, and this year we have seen more than 51,000 racers cross the finish line of Ironman-branded races. With over 45 races worldwide in 2022, we once again take a look at the fastest and slowest races and draw some observations that may help you prepare next year’s racing calendar. (Looking for the fastest and slowest 70.3 races instead? We’ve got you covered.)
RELATED: Triathlete’s 2023 Race GuideSection divider
2022 Ironman racing: a snapshot
Below is a snapshot of all the Ironman races that took place around the world sorted by average completion time (x-axis) and total number of finishers(y-axis). We also group those races by region, such that red stands for races in North America, blue for Europe, and yellow for Rest of World (South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania).
Just from looking at the graph we can make a few observations. The first is that North American races tend to be BIG, the majority of those hosting between 1000 and 2000 racers (the average is 1400). This is a big contrast with races in the rest of the world (ROW), which are much smaller and host half as many racers (average: 750). European races, meanwhile, seem to come in all sizes.
The second observation we can make is that North American races are generally slower than races elsewhere in the world. This is consistent with what we observed last year, especially as some Asian races, which typically led the slowest race ranking, are still making their way back to the competition.
If you’re looking to compare this to previous years, take a look at our 2021 analysis of the fastest and slowest Ironman times, or even pre-pandemic with our 2019 roundup of the fastest and slowest Ironman courses.
Fastest/Slowest Ironman Races 2022Section divider
Zooming in, we can look at the top 5 fastest and slowest races this year. (Note: Some races had their swims shortened or canceled, and they have been removed from this analysis.)
Fastest Ironman Races 2022
|# Racers||Mean Time||Swim||Bike||Run||Region|
Slowest Ironman Races 2022
|# Racers||Mean Time||Swim||Bike||Run||Region|
We see some familiar names in these tables. Mallorca and Brazil were in the top 5 in 2019 and 2021, respectively, while Philippines (2019), UK, and Waco (2021) are names we are used to seeing in the slowest 5. Not featured? Copenhagen and Tallinn, both of which were in the last two rankings, but this year only made it to 6th and 11th, respectively.
We also examined the data by only looking at the top 20 of each division to “level the field” in case any one race seemed to attract more beginners or slower racers, which would lower the average finishing time. In fact this did not alter the rankings significantly.
Looking to PR in a particular leg? Keep reading for our analysis of swim, bike, and run legs at 2022 Ironman races.Section divider
Fastest and Slowest Ironman Swim Times: 2022
For the swim, this year people blitzed through the downstream swim course at Chattanooga. Some of the others are also well known for being fast, like Brazil or Mallorca (though we have a detailed breakdown of historically fast and slow swim courses).
On the other hand, the swims at Asian races were more than 50% slower than Chattanooga. That’s a lot of extra time to spend in the water!
Fastest Ironman Average Swim Times 2022
Slowest Ironman Average Swim Times 2022
Fastest and Slowest Ironman Bike Times: 2022
Of course, the biggest gains are on the bike. Europe has you covered for speedy bike splits – just don’t land in hilly UK or Lanzarote.
Fastest Ironman Average Bike Times 2022
Slowest Ironman Average Bike Times 2022
Fastest and Slowest Ironman Run Times: 2022
For the run, stay in Mallorca or Italy if you’re looking to end early, or for a run + swim PB combo head down to Brazil. For a longer day, Tulsa, Waco and Des Moines are for you if you are looking to enjoy the view. If you do well in hot, humid weather, Philippines and Taiwan have you covered.
Fastest Ironman Average Run Times 2022
|Aix en Provence||4:23:08|
Slowest Ironman Average Run Times 2022
We are almost back to a “normal” racing season. Compared to last year we have seen more European races than in North America, and races in other parts of the world are slowly starting to come back. In any event, most of the fastest races are still located in Europe, partly due to course design, but also, as we have discussed before, due to a more dedicated, niche racer profile. As you’re drawing up your racing calendar for next year, use this data to better understand what kind of race you can expect on the day.
RELATED: Your Tri Season Planning Worksheet