Ironman Corporation reversed its decision to disallow course bests at Ironman Texas. This means Andrew Starykowicz’s 3:54:59 bike split will stand, as both a course best and a worldwide brand best, as well as Jen Annett's 4:25:11, fastest ever at the Ironman distance for the women.
Here was Ironman’s original statement: "Earlier this morning, IRONMAN made the decision to cut a portion of the bike course reducing the distance from the standard 112 miles to approximately 110 miles. The decision was made in the interest of athlete safety. Because of the shortened distance, no course records will be recognized.”
Then, in a change of posture, Ironman released the following statement this morning: "After review by the IRONMAN Global Race Operations Committee, it has been determined that athletes who completed the three-discipline course prescribed at the IRONMAN North American Championship Texas triathlon will be recognized as eligible for world bests. Congratulations to all athletes who set world best times in both overall and individual discipline categories."
The popular Texas race has come under harsh social media scrutiny for the large age group draft packs coupled with the lack of enforcement. Reports from the race state that motos were ordered off the course after the first lap of the bike, at between 9am and 9:15am, due to unauthorized motos banditing the course and causing unsafe conditions.
Ironman, "received multiple reports of erratic and unsafe driving behavior of two-wheeled motor vehicles that were on course. In addition, there were reports of several unauthorized and uncredentialled scooters on course,” according to a statement released by Ironman. “Our system was in this case compromised and the removal of all motos from the bike route was necessary to ensure athlete safety.”
Ironman did not say whether the decision to pull the motos from the course was its own or was made by local law enforcement. Not only did this have an impact on race coverage, it meant athletes rode with no enforcement. Predictably, large packs formed even though the swim was contested using a streamed start. Times up and down age groups were absurdly fast as a result.
Pro athletes like Jen Annett and Starykowicz were livid. "This is total BS,” said Annett, "as the course was short last year as well.” Starykowicz pointed out that several other 177km courses were used for world bests, and it appears by the statement today that Ironman considered Starykowicz’s argument valid.
Still, while Starykowicz argued that the course is “within tolerance” compared to bike courses in other Ironman races, Ironman has not decided what that tolerance is. Should such bike splits be subject to a conversion, just like metric to imperial conversions in footracing? Ironman hasn't broached this subject.
While the run times at IM Texas are curiously, suspiciously fast, unreasonably fast by some accounts, the GPS files of Slowtwitchers who’ve volunteered their data are presented here both for the run and the ride. They both show good consistency, good grouping, and the run course seems the legitimate distance or very close.