Ironman World Championship set for 7 May 2022 in St. George before returning to Kona for a two-day championship in October.
In a huge announcement, Ironman has confirmed that the Ironman World Championship will take place in St. George next May. The event will be the first to take place outside of Hawaii in the history of the Ironman World Championships. Meanwhile, Ironman has also introduced a new two-day format for Kona’s return in October 2022.
Ironman World Championship St. George – 7 May 2022
Having played host to the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championship and already confirmed to hold the same event next year, St. George, Utah, will now have the distinction of hosting the Ironman World Championship on 7 May 2022. The move marks the first Ironman World Championship to be held outside of Hawaii since the inaugural race in 1978 and replaces the previously planned February Kona race.
The race will give pro athletes the chance to earn an Ironman World Championship title as well as a slice of the $750,000 prize purse. The move to a new course could see a new selection of favourites emerge, rather than purely favouring those who perform well in the unique climate of Hawaii’s Big Island.
Ironman president and CEO, Andrew Messick, also appeared to confirm that whoever wins the event will be labelled as 2021 Ironman World Champions:
“We are fortunate to have built such a strong and trusted relationship with our friends in the greater St. George region over the past 10-plus years,” said Messick.
“St. George stepped up to ensure Ironman athletes will have a 2021 world championship, even if delayed into 2022. We all just witnessed why this special place has been dubbed the ‘Land of Endurance’ and we are confident that we will have an outstanding championship in May.”
“The honour to host the first Ironman World Championship outside of Hawaii is as humbling as it is thrilling,” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office. There are few events that hold the prestige and respect of the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
“I think we understand the weight and responsibility we now have to carry forward the cherished significance of the Ironman World Championship and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. We have the deepest respect for the Ironman World Championship’s legacy in Hawaii and all that has gone on before – the passion, the dreams, the gut-wrenching persistence, and the human spirit of caring for one another as we push forward to be the best version of ourselves.
“Hosting the Ironman World Championship here gives us the opportunity to truly honour that legacy with our own brand of enduring success, and once again I’m certain we will rise to it.”
Ironman World Championship Kona – 6 and 8 October 2022
For the first time ever, the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, will feature a two-day format with pro women racing on Thursday 6 October and pro men on Saturday 8 October.
The move to two days of competition for the professional athletes will allow an expanded field of 50 women to join the 50 pro men at the event, giving parity across the men’s and women’s field for the first time.
Providing two days of racing will also help Ironman host a large cohort of age-groupers who have earned qualification for the event since late 2019.
Details on the age-group races are yet to be announced, though Ironman says it will be contacting both athletes qualified for Kona and those registered for Ironman St. George 2022 directly. This hints that St. George’s World Championship status in May 2022 may also extend to age groupers.
“We expect the races in October of 2022 to be unique and historic,” said Messick. “Two days of racing in Kailua-Kona addresses the overwhelming demand from athletes to race in a World Championship and will allow us to host our deferred athletes and place more emphasis on showcasing our women’s and men’s professional races.”
Hawaii County Mayor, Mitch Roth, added: “We are excited to work in collaboration with Ironman to bring two events home to Hawaii Island in October of 2022.”
“As our island’s premier sporting event, Ironman has been a trusted community partner for over 40 years, and we’re ever grateful for their willingness and ability to adapt to our community’s needs and contribute to its vibrancy. That said, we would like to send a sincere mahalo to the city of St. George, Utah, for allowing Ironman competitors a stage to compete, as we ready our shores to welcome back our Ironman ʻohana in anticipation of next year’s events.”
Other voices referenced the economic benefits of Ironman to Hawaii and the ongoing effects the pandemic is having on the economy.
“Hawaii Island, and Kona in particular, have had a wonderful 40-plus year relationship with Ironman and its origins,” said Ross Birch, Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau Executive Director. “While the iconic event has provided long-lasting economic benefits to our island, what’s sometimes missed is the transformation of Kona as a lifestyle destination because of Ironman. We are in full support of Ironman’s change to host a two-day race format that enables the opportunity for all qualifying athletes from the past two-plus years to compete as well as giving the local economy a chance to benefit and recoup lost tourism opportunities.”
Luana Hospitality Principal, Eric von Platen Luder, added: “The loss of the past two Ironman World Championship races certainly dealt us an economic blow. Our restaurants have always received a big boost from the race, athletes, and their families. We are very excited to hear that with two races next October we can plan to make up for the economic losses from the past two race cancellations.”
Diana Bertsch, Senior Vice President, World Championship Events for The Ironman Group, summed up the situation: “It has been a challenging few years, however we have stayed true to our goal to create exceptional experiences for our ‘ohana.”
“We are grateful to our host communities in St. George and Kailua-Kona as well as their local and state officials, for their willingness to trust us. Our team is committed to putting on incredible race weeks as we add pages to the Ironman World Championship history books in May and October 2022.”