THE TOPS EDGE CON­FIRMED

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - KONA PREVIEW -

We took an in-depth look for var­i­ous pat­terns that re­sulted in great­est suc­cess. The first had seemed ob­vi­ous: NBC an­nouncer Al Trautwig would an­nu­ally re­peat some form of the fol­low­ing:

• As the swim lead­ers ex­ited the wa­ter, “You’re not go­ing to win with a great swim.”

• Al­most breath­less commentary about who’s in the “lead pack,” or “chase group” on the bike, and who had the best chance to en­ter T2 “in the lead” as if fastest bike could por­tend chance for vic­tory

• The drama kicked in as the first off the bike quite of­ten was passed early in the marathon, prompt­ing Trautwig to point out, “You win Kona on the run.”

One thing Trautwig, and many coaches and ex­perts I’ve spo­ken with about win­ning Kona ap­pear to have missed in em­brac­ing thik­ing like Trautwig’s: the state­ments were, for the most part, anec­do­tal. Yes, true to a de­gree, but what I hadn’t heard was an an­a­lyt­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion about the best way to ap­proach swim, bike and run to win.

Our anal­y­sis of the top 20 male and top 20 fe­male fin­ish­ers and their time splits don’t tell the whole story, they lead to a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion: that bal­anc­ing your race per­for­mance by the TOPS guide­lines, ac­cord­ing to your skill level, will re­sult in a bet­ter fin­ish.

Look­ing for pat­terns to ex­plain top per­for­mances on a swim, bike, run per­cent­age ba­sis re­vealed a very sur­pris­ing find­ing: to achieve and op­ti­mal fin­ish time, go slow, then go fast.

More specif­i­cally, the closer we looked, the clearer it be­came.

ABOVE Peter Reid rac­ing at the 2004 Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship

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