Kona 2012 - by the numbers
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Added: Mon Oct 15 2012
A repeat of 2011 seemed likely again, with talk of a showdown between Chris McCormack, Craig Alexander and other pre-race favorites with more experience in Kona. A likely scenario still had Pete Jacobs on the podium, but not the top step.
At first it appeared 2012 would be no different from 2011 as Potts once again exited the water first. But the margin between Potts and the chase group was less than a minute this year, whereas in years past he enjoyed a lead of several minutes heading into the bike. Pete Jacobs was in the chase group with other strong swimmers including fellow Australian Luke McKenzie.
At this point, on the bike, the race began to diverge from expectations, and what took place over the following four and a half hours surprised everyone.
McKenzie took off with the group of early favorites including Alexander, Al-Sultan, Marino Vanhoenacker, Paul Matthews, Michael Raelert, Potts and Jacobs. At around 6 miles, he passed Potts with an aggressive 12-second surge of 523W (7.2 w/kg) and all this datacame via his SRAM Quarq.
Despite a few attempts by Alexander to lead, McKenzie continued to press the pace for the next 37 miles mostly in the lead, collecting the Timex bike prime. This was a tough hour and a half effort off the front, where McKenzie averaged 288W (4 w/kg) and 25.5 mph, and put in his Peak 1-hour Power of the day at 295W (4.1 w/kg). This was nearly 11% higher than his overall average power output for the day of 265W (3.7 w/kg).
With Vanhoenacker and Kienle setting a fast pace off the front it would have been reasonable to expect Jacobs to fall back and allow Van Lierde, Bockel or Al Sultan to lead the chase, especially considering the effort he put in during the first half of the ride and his confidence in knowing he had the previous year’s fastest marathon times.
Jacobs held a steady effort of 268W (3.8 w/kg) between mile 70 and 112 to maintain his front position and minimize the loss to Vanhoenacker. This effort minimized losses to Vanhoenacker to 8 minutes and earned Jacobs a new experience from his previous three years at Kona: 2nd off the bike.
Variability Index analyzes how smooth or consistent an athlete’s power output was during a race. A ride with a lower index produces similar power with less fatigue and will set the athlete up for a better run. Below we see that Faris’ ride was the “smoothest” among the three, with McKenzie’s being the “punchiest”.
Comparing the Variability Index
Faris Al-Sultan VI 1.01
Pete Jacobs VI 1.04
Luke McKenzie VI 1.06
Faris’ smoother pacing strategy resulted in lower average watts/kg than Jacobs (3.8 w/kg vs 4.0 w/kg) but still kept him in the top 5 off the bike, only 46 seconds behind Pete. In 2011, when the conditions allowed for record-setting times, Faris finished the marathon in 3:01. In 2012, despite harder conditions, Faris leveraged his pacing strategy for a 2:56 marathon.
Direct number comparison
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