WHAT TOPS MEANS FOR TRIATHLETES LOOKING FOR THAT WINNING EDGE AT KONA
Look at the chart showing combined swim/ bike percentages of finish time. What jumps out? First, the winner of the Ironman World Championship last year was, in fact, the slowest of the top 20 male finishers into T2. At nearly 66 per cent, his race strategy seems to indicate he raced his own race, not other athletes. Let ’em pass, he might have been thinking. Because his balanced approach up to the run was on track. More than on track. He charged on the run course with a plan, a good idea that he could execute, and finished with a 2:39 marathon and a two-minute victory.
Remember above when we looked at second-place finisher Lionel Sanders’s race in terms of time? Well, translate that to TOPS and you can see in this chart, with nearly a 64 per cent swim/bike per cent of finish time, he was doomed to spend the next 36 per cent running. A two per cent gap to Lange.
Remember when we emphasized the importance of a one per cent difference in TOPS finish per cent equals five minutes on the course? Sanders entered T2 10 minutes ahead of Lange, or two per cent TOPS. Lange steadily made up that two per cent and passed
Sanders to win by two minutes.
You couldn’t have a better illustration of the success or disappointment of applying TOPS. Balance your race. Don’t be afraid to take the swim and bike slower, to emerge with a higher TOPS percentage entering the run. If you’ve executed to plan, you’ll have a faster run and a better chance to win. That’s the kind of new edge pros are looking for.
Raymond Britt is CEO of WinSight.net Ecommerce Consulting, Publisher of RunTri.com, a 29-time Ironman and three-time Kona finisher. His email is RaymondBritt@WinSight.net.