This year, for the first time in the 40-plus year history of triathlon’s pinnacle event, the 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship will take place over two days in Kona on October 6 and 8. IRONMAN, in collaboration with local and state officials in Hawai`i, also recently announced that the 2023 championship will continue with the two-day format in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. IRONMAN will have a dedicated day of racing for the women’s field on Thursday and the men’s field on Saturday, allowing for full focus and coverage on each race and its competitors as well as the Island of Hawai`i like never before.
“The County of Hawai`i and IRONMAN have a long history of working together closely to ensure this global event is conducted safely and with due respect for the needs of the athletes, county residents, and worldwide visitors,” said Hawai`i County Mayor, Mitch Roth. “With the 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship occurring over two days in October, the County of Hawai`i is excited to once again host these champions in Kailua-Kona and Kohala, and looks forward to another epic VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in 2023. The partnership with IRONMAN has stood the test of time and we are grateful and humbled that the culture here has fed into the culture of IRONMAN, reflecting the aloha spirit and the theme of Holomua — to move forward — for the 2023 IRONMAN season.”
“We are grateful for our partners in Hawai`i and Kailua-Kona, for their support for over 40 years of this homegrown event that has captured the imagination of the world and turned into the pinnacle event of the sport of triathlon,” said Andrew Messick, President and Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “We look forward to an incredible two-day event in 2022, and the ability in 2023 to further advance what a two-day format can look like with a focused women’s race day and a men’s race day.”
Dedicated female and male race days will also now bring about increased qualifying opportunities, including expanded slot allocations at regional championships as well as increased opportunities for women at 17 IRONMAN triathlons from around the world, designated as Women For Tri® events. These events will consist of the 2022 IRONMAN Chattanooga, IRONMAN Arizona, and IRONMAN Western Australia, and the 2023 IRONMAN New Zealand, IRONMAN African Championship, IRONMAN Texas, IRONMAN European Championship, IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene, IRONMAN France, IRONMAN UK, IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz, IRONMAN Lake Placid, IRONMAN Kalmar, IRONMAN Ireland, IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant, and IRONMAN Copenhagen.
I’m thrilled by the news that the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship will hold a dedicated women’s race for the first time in 2023. Women have a long history of stealing the spotlight in Kona! A separate day of racing guarantees the professional and age group women their time to shine. These amazing athletes deserve the opportunity to showcase their talents, separate and apart from the men. This is truly a cause for celebration.”IRONMAN Hall of Famer Julie Moss
Those Women For Tri designated events will aim to further grow participation and celebrate women in the sport while also creating more than 1,200 additional opportunities to qualify for the biggest stage in the sport at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. These designated events were determined based on a number of factors including time of year, regional race calendars, as well as their propensity to grow female participation based on relatively higher levels of female participation or areas where further growth opportunities exist.
While the number of athletes racing in IRONMAN events each year has increased considerably over the last 20 years, the number of athletes able to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championship has remained relatively flat. With a two-day format, top age-groupers deserving a chance to compete on the world’s stage will now have additional opportunities to qualify. Even with increased slots, however, it is expected that less than 6% of yearly IRONMAN participants around the world will ultimately make it to the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship. As one of the most sought-after experiences in all of mass participation sport, those who have made it to the IRONMAN World Championship continue to be among the world’s elite, equating to approximately 0.00006% of the world’s population.
“Creating a two-day race has been transformative for our IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship, allowing for deeper and larger fields with men and women racing on different days, and ultimately providing benefit to all with cleaner races and focused coverage and attention on each race,” Messick continued. “We are excited to now implement these principles into the IRONMAN World Championship with two days of racing in Hawai`i.”
In 2017, IRONMAN first held a two-day IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship with women racing on one day and the majority of men racing on the other, and has seen correlated growth of female participation at IRONMAN 70.3 events since that time, both globally and regionally where the world championship was held. After the pandemic impacted the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, resulting in a one-day event, the two-day format returns in 2022 and will continue for 2023.
Like the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship, the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place in Lahti, Finland, will also see dedicated women’s and men’s race days. Additionally, the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will include increased female qualifying opportunities at 20 designated Women For Tri events around the world.