The IRONMAN Group operates many events worldwide, including the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, along with other multisport races and series, such as the The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, IRONKIDS®, and others. It is the largest participation sports platform in the world.
Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with more than 235 events across 55+ countries. Since its inception as a single race, athletes have now crossed the finish line at challenging endurance races around the globe.
Brief History of IRONMAN
The first-ever Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon was held on February 18, 1978. In 1980, the event gained worldwide recognition when ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” aired the IRONMAN race in Hawai’i.
Two years later, the world saw what has become one of most iconic moments in IRONMAN history. San Diego college student Julie Moss was the frontrunner in the race. She collapsed during the marathon, just yards from the final finish line. She ultimately crawls to the finish line, but does not capture the title. Kathleen McCartney passed her for the win. (I can still remember watching the event in awe.)
Since 1993, the IRONMAN Hall of Fame as recognized many of the people who have epitomized the spirit of competition with invaluable contributions to the event, including Dave Scot, Julie Moss, Paula Newby-Fraser, Mark Allen, John MacLean, founders John and Judy Collins, and many others.
Read about these and many other fascinating accomplishments by IRONMAN athletes and promoters: https://www.ironman.com/hall-of-fame
IRONMAN World Championship in Kona
The IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i is the global event that remains the pinnacle of triathlon competitions worldwide. Triathletes from around the world compete in qualifying events to earn a spot in this iconic race. Qualifying athletes who make the cut embark on a 140.6-mile journey that will test the limits of their body, mind, and spirit (channeling Julie Moss, perhaps?). Athletes begin the race with a swim, entering the water in assigned groups or waves. More info: IM World Championship (ironman.com)
2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaiʻi and Nice, France
Through decades of jaw-dropping athletic achievements, the IRONMAN World Championship has established a reputation as the pinnacle triathlon to become an iconic global sporting event. The IRONMAN triathlon includes a swim race, bike race, and ends with a full marathon. Completing the 140.6-mile quest is the ultimate test of body, mind, and spirit.
In 2023, IRONMAN takes the next step in World Championship evolution, by shining a spotlight on women at the KONA® race, while the men’s Championship event is hosted on new ground in Nice, France. IRONMAN embraces change as the competition Holomua, Avançons ensemble…”move forward”…because Anything Is Possible.
- September 10, 2023: Men’s Race in Nice, France. For the first time ever Nice, France will co-host the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship. The very best male professional and age group triathletes from around the world will complete with an ocean swim, hinterland bike course, and coastal run, racing from the Mediterranean to the Mountains in the glamourous French riviera. Nice promises old town architecture, an azure coastline, and sunshine in the iconic Côte d’Azur. More info: Men’s VinFast IRONMAN World Championship Nice, France
- October 14, 2023: Women’s Race in Kona, Hawai’i. The VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi will host the very best female professional and age group triathletes from around the world. The historic KONA® race will take athletes through the clear waters of Kailua Bay, along the wind-swept coasts and barren lava fields of the Island of Hawaiʻi in the historic village of Kona. More info: Women’s VinFast IRONMAN World Championship Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i
IRONMAN race courses in Hawai’i
Here are the course details for each leg from the 2022 event:
- Swim: 2.4 mile (3.86 km) sunrise swim through ocean currents, out and back from Kailua Bay in the heart of Kona. Wetsuits are not allowed, except for athletes 70 ages and older. Each athlete must complete the swim in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less.
- Bike: 112 mile (180.2 km) along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, from Kailua-Kona to Hawi on the northwest corner of the Big Island and return. Trade winds can be a challenge for the bicyclists throughout the course. Each triathlete must complete the bike race in 10 hours 30 minutes or less.
- Marathon: The 26.2 mile (42.2 km) marathon race course extends from Pahoehoe Beach Park (4-about 5 miles south of Kona town) northward to the Natural Energy Lab near the Keahole Airport. Racers return to Kona amid the cheers of the spectators at the finish line hear Kailua Pier, where their long, long day began.
Professionals complete the IRONMAN in about 8-9 hours. Non-professionals who are well-conditioned typically come in around 13-14 hours. Anyone finishing the grueling IRONMAN in under 17 hours achieves something relatively few people in the world have done. The race cutoff time is 17 hours after the racer’s designated IRONMAN start time.
2021 Edition IRONMAN World Championship in St. George, Utah
Due to COVID-19 the Island of Hawai`i resources were stretched to the limit. Ironman organizers lacked confidence that the Big Island would be ready for the 2021 race. St. George, Utah rose to the occasion. The Land of Endurance mixes the striking and austere landscapes of the desert to create a one-of-a-kind World Championship experience.
Kumukahi – new beginnings – are ahead.