Which are the world’s most competitive swimrun races? We are currently trying to wrap our heads around this question and it is not as straightforward as you might think. This is going to be very nerdy.
We’ve tried simple measurements such as dividing the 10th finisher’s time by the winner’s time (“1/10” hereon) finisher’s time and run all 50 races in our database through that:
|1.||ÖTILLÖ World Series 1000 Lakes 2017||92.62 %|
|2.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2018||92.05 %|
|3.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin 2015||91.97 %|
|4.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin 2019||91.80 %|
|5.||ÖTILLÖ World Series Engadin 2018||91.77 %|
|6.||ÖTILLÖ World Series Hvar 2018||91.31 %|
|7.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes 2016||90.85 %|
|8.||ÖTILLÖ World Series Utö 2018||90.41 %|
|9.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö 2016||90.20 %|
|10.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin 2016||90.11 %|
We’ve tried first by 20th, 30th and so on (purple in figure below). We’ve also tried dividing front average by back average with different scopes (blue in figure below).
We’ve also tried the The Salamander Ranking (TSR) 2019 race selection algorithm for our purposes, just exluding their ÖTILLÖ World Championship bias and run it over our database. TSR counts the number of finishers that are within +20 % from the winner’s time in relation to number of participants, which renders a similar result as the method of dividing first to x-th. The real difference is the participants component of their algoritm, giving a boost to Ångaloppet:
|1.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2018||806|
|2.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2019||791|
|3.||Ångaloppet 22 km 2017||790|
|4.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2016||764|
|ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö 2016||764|
|6.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2017||752|
|7.||ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2015||745|
|8.||ÖTILLÖ World Series Utö 2018||725|
|9.||ÖTILLÖ World Series Engadin 2018||701|
|10.||ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö 2019||691|
Now, what’s the problem? Well, take ÖTILLÖ Worlds 2017–2019. Just by sense and talk of the town, perception would be that competition is getting tighter every year. However, ranking the top three Worlds events we get this order:
Competitiveness by 1/10:
This interestingly enough coincides with ÖTILLÖ Worlds weather:
Isolating ÖTILLÖ Utö by TSR-like (1/10 gives similar) with weather:
Other examples are that 1/10 suggests that ÖTILLÖ Engadin 2015 was more competitive than 2018 and 2019, which I doubt.
To summarize, there might be instances where newer editions actually are less competitive than old ones, but it looks as if elites are less affected by the weather component in swimrun than second tier athletes, resulting in that time-difference-based algorithms do not fully reflect the actual level of competition.
Some of the tables mentioned: https://swimrun.watch/toplists/ (trivia sub section)
Author: Andreas Ribbefjord