(This post & accompanying viz are inspired by my brother, Matt Jones, who will be competing in his first full Ironman competition in Wisconsin in two weeks)

A triathlon is a particularly interesting race to visualize because racers compete in three very different sequential events: first swim, then bike, and finally, run.

The below interactive Tableau Public viz shows the top 100 finishers (out of 2,098) in my brother’s most recent tune-up half triathlon, the Vineman 2011 in Guerneville, California.

See if you can use it to determine how individual racers could approach the next race if they want to improve their overall rank:

When I showed this viz to my brother, he was quick to point out the results for racer John Dahlz who had very different rankings for the three different parts of the race:

John Dahlz (Overall: 52nd)

  • Swim: 3rd
  • Bike: 37th
  • Run: 218th

Obviously, the strategy for John to move up in overall rank next time would be much different than the strategy for Philip Regnier, who ran a very different race:

Philip Regnier (Overall: 86th)

  • Swim: 734th
  • Bike: 106th
  • Run: 46th

It seems that a winning strategy for John would be to focus on improving his run time, while Philip could make the greatest jump in the standings by knocking down his time in the water and on the bike.

Creating a cool-looking viz is one thing, using a viz to inform strategy is another thing all together.

What did you see?