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Ironman

How Hot Was Kona 2015? Comparing Marathon Times

We look at the marathon times of the top 10 professional men and women from 2015 and 2014.

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In nearly every post-Ironman World Championship interview with the top pros, you hear them say that the marathon featured brutally hot conditions. Three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander spectated the race for the first time on Saturday and after the race commented “the conditions were tough and the athletes were tougher.”

The reality is that the actual recorded temperature in Kona doesn’t mean a lot. Comparing the temperatures from 2015 to 2014 shows little discrepancy. According to Weather.com archives, the temperature in Kona on Saturday reached 89 degrees F—compared to a high of 86 degrees F in last year’s race. The biggest difference this year? There was virtually no breeze and no cloud cover, leaving athletes exposed to the heat from the sun and from the asphalt that covers the entire Ironman World Championship run course. So, how did these tougher conditions affect the race? Here, we look at the marathon times of the top 10 professional men and women to get an idea. There are definitely other factors that could contribute to these differences—specifically how the bike plays out. The general consensus—especially on the men’s side—is that the bike ride was fairly conservative, so if anything we’d probably expect to see faster marathon splits. That was definitely not the case on Saturday.

The men’s marathon times on average (just based on the top 10) were 2:57:38 this year versus 2:52:24 last year. While on the women’s side, this year’s average was 3:11:42 versus 3:06:17 last year. That’s a difference of more than five minutes on both sides. To be fair, Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) broke the marathon course record in 2014 with a time of 2:50:26 and then didn’t make it to the marathon this year due to a sore back, so that does skew the women’s data slightly. Taking Carfrae’s time out of the average still shows a difference of more than three and a half minutes.

2015 Top 10 Men Marathon Times

1. Jan Frodeno 2:52:21
2. Andreas Raelert 2:50:02
3. Timothy O’Donnell 2:55:46
4. Andy Potts 2:53:45
5. Tyler Butterfield 2:56:19
6. Cyril Viennot 2:53:05
7. Eneko Llanos 3:04:10
8. Sebastian Kienle 3:06:08
9. Brent McMahon 3:06:02
10. Boris Stein 2:58:48
Average: 2:57:38

2014 Top 10 Men Marathon Times

1. Sebastian Kienle 2:54:36
2. Ben Hoffman 2:51:25
3. Jan Frodeno 2:47:46
4. Andy Potts 2:48:18
5. Cyril Viennot 2:51:55
6. Nils Frommhold 2:52:45
7. Timothy Van Berkel 2:50:53
8. Frederik Van Lierde 2:56:21
9. Bart Aernouts 2:50:12
10. Romain Guillaume 2:59:58
Average: 2:52:24

2015 Top 10 Women Marathon Times

1. Daniela Ryf 3:06:37
2. Rachel Joyce 3:08:42
3. Liz Blatchford 3:06:25
4. Michelle Vesterby 3:17:14
5. Heather Jackson 3:07:53
6. Susie Cheetham 3:06:55
7. Sarah Piampiano 3:06:33
8. Camilla Pedersen 3:25:23
9. Caroline Steffen 3:15:27
10. Lucy Gossage 3:15:51
Average: 3:11:42

2014 Top 10 Women Marathon Times

1. Mirinda Carfrae 2:50:26
2. Daniela Ryf 3:07:00
3. Rachel Joyce 3:06:27
4. Jodie Swallow 3:08:45
5. Caroline Steffen 3:08:43
6. Julia Gajer 3:04:39
7. Elizabeth Lyles 3:03:24
8. Gina Crawford 3:01:49
9. Mary Beth Ellis 3:21:24
10. Liz Blatchford 3:10:16
Average: 3:06:17
Average Without Mirinda Carfrae’s Time: 3:08:03