Another reason for the high DNF rate at IM World Championship – athletes pulled from the course early

We reported on the high “Did Not Finish” (DNF) rate at last weekend’s Ironman World Championship yesterday. Almost 22 per cent of the field didn’t make it to the finish at Saturday’s challenging race, but that number might have been inflated because some athletes were incorrectly pulled off the course at the final run cut off point.

There were a number of cut off times throughout the course in St. George – athletes had 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim, 10:30 to complete the swim and the bike, and 17 hours to complete the race. There were intermediate cut offs on the bike – 95 km by 2:37 pm, and 152 km by 6:38 pm. On the run athletes had to reach 21.2 km by 9:53 pm, and the aid station at 28.8 km point by 11:04 pm.

“Women had a disadvantage over the men by starting later,” Olivia Myszkowski pointed out in an email message. “I was in the second to last wave, which meant I started over an hour after the men’s first wave. A lot of females had less time to make it to the intermediate cut off because of how much time there was between waves.”

A number of athletes who had easily made the 28.8 km cut off time, including Myszkowski, were shocked when they were running back through the aid station (at 32 km), and were told they hadn’t made the cut off time and had to give back their chips.

“Some race officials/volunteers were pulling athletes off the course when they shouldn’t have,” Myszkowski continued. “The last checkpoint for the race was at mile 17.9. According to the athlete guide, the checkpoint must have been met by 11:03 (which was later adjusted to 10:53 based on the last swimmer entering the water). Instead, race officials were pulling athletes off the course at mile 20 at 10:53 instead (2 miles past the checkpoint!!!!). They refused to listen to the athletes and pulled approximately 50-75 athletes off the course despite us having time to finish the last 6.4 miles. I, personally, had about 2 hours to finish the rest of the race based on the 17 hour maximum time allowed for the race.”

Sam Page was another athlete pulled off the course after clearly making the cut off time. Page, who qualified for the world championship event at Ironman Texas last year, made it to the 20 mile point of the race at 10:58 pm, only to be told to hand over her chip and get in a van to go back to the finish line. On Sunday morning she “went to sleep with a DNF from having my chip pulled … to Sunday afternoon having a finish time posted without me knowing my status was changed.”

Page heard from Diana Bertsch, Ironman’s senior Vice President World Championship events, who apologized and changed her “DNF to an estimated finish time.” On the official results, Page’s time is 16:59:30, along with a number of other athletes, who presumably were also pulled from the course.

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Page was also told by Bertsch that she would be receiving her “finish line swag.”

We’ve reached out to Ironman for more information about the issue, but have not heard back. It is uncertain how many athletes were incorrectly pulled from the course.

Myszkowski’s finishing time now also appears on the athlete tracker as 16:59:30. Some other athletes have expressed frustration with that time being posted as they were on track to come across the line faster than that. Many are also extremely frustrated that they weren’t given the opportunity to cross the finish line at a world championship event.

Page went back on Monday morning to complete the last 6.4 miles of the course.

“My hubby called me across the ‘finish line’ – he just might put Mike Reilly out of a job,” Page said. “He and my sister in law provided the best finish line ever!!!! My sister in law made the absolute best ever finish line medal that will be framed and it will hang on ‘my wall.’”

We’ll continue to follow this story and provide updates as they become available.

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