It should come as no great surprise that Cameron Brown won the Tauranga Half, again. It was a decidedly average performance for him. By which I mean that his average time over the last ten years has been 3.54.53 and he recorded 3.54.10 in 2014 (OK – slightly better than average). So only average by his standards.
For those debating course distances – yes the swim was long. But overall the conditions were good. Read on for the usual race analysis
The chart below shows the overall averages for the last ten years worth of results. Note that I haven’t been diligent with keeping notes over the years for this race so a bit thin in the comments column.
It’s immediately clear that 2014 suffered from the slowest swim of the last ten years. And that the advent of a competitor race two weeks later has had a negative effect on participant numbers.
To dig a little deeper we turn to the recidivist analysis – looking at athletes who have participated more than once.
This shows that it was a year for performing exactly at your average (take a bow Mr Brown). However – this was largely thanks to the swim. It would have been a relatively quick year with the correct swim distance. So how far was the swim? Looking at experienced, consistent athletes like Cameron Brown, Graham o’Grady and Jo Lawn – they all took 8% longer than their average swim time. But the chart above shows that the average discrepancy was 3.8%. So the distance was somewhere between 80m and 180m too long.
The bike conditions were as fast as we’ve had on this course, so a good day for personal bests there.
The run was a little slow – possibly thanks to the long swim, or the heat or maybe athletes going too hard on the bike.
One athlete for whom the run was not slow was Candice Hammond (again) – she was only 16s slower than than Nicole Copes long standing run time – recording a 1.20.49. Here are the rest of the best times that I’ve been able to collate.
I vaguely recall a 1.12 run in the pre 2000 days, possibly on Walters record day but don’t have results to verify with.
The womens Total, Bike & Run time records were all threatened this year but stood fast.
As commented earlier the number of finishers has dropped. Further – if you look at the recidivist table you’ll note a heavy fall in the number of long time competitors (only 276 this year who have competed more than once in the last 10 years). While racing on Saturday I felt that there was less depth at the front of the race than in years gone by, so I did a little more analysis.
I’ve compared the spread of Total times from 2014 to 2012 (the last race before the Auckland 70.3 started). The rightwards shift (towards slower times) shows that a major part of the loss of athletes for Tauranga Half has come at the front of the Age Group race – presumably athletes wish to chase 70.3 WC spots.
This explains some things like the average bike time – the whole field average is roughly the same between ’14 and ’12 despite the recidivism analysis showing ’14 to be faster conditions. A loss of a chunk of the faster athletes slowed the average down for ’14.
So the technical official claiming that there were fewer drafting penalties than usual probably has the drop in field strength to thank, rather than a new level of competitor diligence.
Overall a good year for the Tauranga Half – good conditions, good racing in the elites and lead age groupers. But the organisers will need to have a look at addressing the falling competitor numbers.