Yes, I know the obvious answer, 1:10.49 but what I want to look at this week is how that time compares to other historically fast finishes.
American Ninja Warrior City Qualifiers have changed significantly from Season 1 to Season 9. In Seasons 1-3 the City Qualifiers were equal parts a test of obstacle skill and a race, because only the 30 fastest finishers moved on to the City Finals. Not only did the rules format change, but the courses changed as well. In recent years we've seen much more endurance based upper body intensive obstacles, we've even seen obstacles that are slightly modified versions of obstacles we've previously only seen Stage 3 such as the Bar Hop (a modified Flying Bar) and I-Beam Cross (a modified Spider Flip - sorta).
With this shift to more grueling obstacles we've seen slower and slower City Qualifying completion times. This is true for both average completion times:
That being said, Drew Drechsel's Daytona City Qualifier was unlike any we've seen before. Now unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years you probably recognize how unbelievable Drew Drechsel has been on Ninja Warrior courses. Just in case, here's some of the highlights: Back to back Stage 3 appearances on American Ninja Warrior (he went further than any other competitor last season), 3 straight trips to Stage 3 in Sasuke (he went further than any other competitor last season). He came in first in the National Ninja League Finals (he got second the year before), He finished second in the Wolfpack Ninja Tour, and he finished second at Ultimate Backyard Warrior. There's a lot more but I think you get the point.
Drew completed the Daytona City Qualifier in 70.49 seconds (I use total seconds just to make math easier instead of having to convert everything into minutes/seconds). If we were to ignore what season they occurred in and compared this to all the fastest City Qualifying times (only looking at the single fastest time in each of the show's 32 City Qualifiers to date) in American Ninja Warrior history it doesn't seem all that impressive, ranking as just the 19th fastest City Qualifying time. When we add seasons back into the equation, we see 70.49 is faster than any City Qualifying run last season. Additionally, only two fastest City Qualifying runs were faster in Season 7, Kevin Bull in LA: 56.4s (remember this one as you'll see it again) and Lorin Ball in Denver: 58.34s.
Being the fastest City Qualifying time in over a season is impressive, however the real impressiveness of Drew's run the other night comes when we factor in the rest of the field. Drew finished 36.65 seconds faster than the next fastest ninja, Travis Rosen,107.14 seconds. This is the largest gap between the fastest finisher and the second fastest finisher in any of the 32 city qualifiers in the show's history.
As you can see by the graph above Drew's completion time was in the middle of the pack but the difference between his time and the second fastest finisher was staggering. The only other ninja to finish more than 25 seconds faster than the second fastest finisher was Kevin Bull in Venice Beach Season 7.
Another way to gauge Drew's speed compared to the rest of the field is to look at the percentage of time the second fastest finisher (Travis Rosen) was on the course, compared to Drew. Rosen was on the course over 150% (151.99%) of the time that Drew was. This means if Drew and Travis's runs were started at the same time and run on a loop, Drew would complete the course 3 times before Travis would complete it twice.
The only time a City Qualifier's second fastest finisher was on a course for a larger percentage of time than Travis to Drew, was again in the Season 7 Venice Beach City Qualifier where Alan Connealy was on the course for 156.6% of the time Kevin Bull was. Bull finished that Qualifier in just 56.4 seconds. Although his margin of victory was smaller 31.92 seconds compared to Drew's 36.65 seconds, Connealy's total time divided by Bull's time leaves a larger remainder than Rosen's total time divided by Drechsel's total time.
Sometimes you have two speed demons in a region that completely outpace the field (like we saw in San Antonio). In which case, it makes sense to look at the fastest City Qualifying time compared to the average City Qualifying time, instead of the second fastest finisher. Drew finished the Daytona City Qualifier 104.82 seconds faster than the average City Qualifying completion time, 175.31 seconds. This ranks as 5th largest difference between a city qualifier's fastest finishers and the average City Qualifying completion time.
The only four fastest City Qualifying finishers to finish with a larger difference between their times were: Elet Hall in Pittsburgh Season 7, 128.94 seconds faster than the average completion time of 211.65 seconds; Lorin Ball in Indianapolis Season 8, 117.61 seconds faster than the average completion time of 214.05 seconds; Kevin Bull in Los Angeles Season 8, 109.23 seconds faster than the average completion time; and David Campbell in Venice Season 6, 105.73 seconds faster than the average completion time of 105.73 seconds.
The raw differences between these fastest finishers and the average completion time ridiculous! Elet Hall was over 2.5 times faster - or put in percentages, the average city qualifying finisher in Pittsburgh in Season 7 was on the course for 255.89% of the time that Elet was was.
For his Season 9 Daytona City Qualifier the average City Qualifying finisher was on the course 248.7% of the time Drew was again, nearly 2.5 times as long. Looking at the data above, we see only two runs where the average City Qualifying finisher was on the course for a larger percentage of time than Drew in Daytona. There is the aforementioned Elet Hall run in Pittsburgh in Season 7. However the largest such difference was in Season 6, when the average finisher of the Miami City Qualifier was on the course for 272.76% of the time of the fastest finisher of the night. That fastest finisher just so happened to be some guy named Drew Drechsel.
So that's just 4 different ways explaining how fast Drew's City qualifying time was:
- The largest difference between the fastest and second fastest finisher in any of the 32 city qualifiers
- The second fastest finisher was on the course just over 1.5 times as long as Drew, the second largest difference in history
- There was a 104.82 second difference between Drew's time and the average City Qualifying completion time, the 5th largest difference in history
- The average City Qualifying finisher took nearly 2.5 times as long to complete the course, the third largest gap in history (a record that Drew already holds for his Season 6 Miami City Qualifying run)
- John Loobey at 65 years old increased his record as the oldest man to complete an obstacle, and he completed 2, nearly 3. Also he hilariously lost his teeth and had to fish them out of the water.
- Kevin Carbone was the first competitor in show's history to face and complete and obstacle he submitted
- We had our second proposal of the season, Casey Suchocki joining Max Soria from San Antonio.
- Kevin Carbone did propose to the buzzer when he finished, and although I think it said yes, I'm not counting that.
- Travis Rosen completed his 7th straight City Qualifier, this was the first time in all those years that he finished with the second fastest time
- Tyler Gillett had to wait 7 years before he turned old enough to compete, but he cleared the City Qualifier with ease in his rookie season.
I'm including this table, because a lot of research went into these figures this week and instead of leaving it to rot in an Excel file I probably won't look at until sometime next season I figured I'd post it for everyone to see.