Ironman about Kona: “Several cities have inquired if the IM World Championship will rotate”

Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Triathlon’s history originates on Hawaii and since 40 years the Long-Distance triathlon of the year has returned tot the island, however that’s about to change with the Ironman World Championship taking place in St. George in May 2022. That led to a discussion: shouldn’t the Ironman World Championship rotate and be hosted by different cities around the world, just like the Ironman 70.3 World Championship? If you ask the organizers behind different Ironman events, it should. That’s what Ironman said according to an article on Big Island Now: “We have not been urged to keep it in Utah, however, several other cities from around the world have inquired if the Ironman World Championship will rotate similar to the Ironman 70.3 Championship.”

However, Ironman also mentions they would much prefer to stick to Kona as their home base. Whether the race would be spread out over two days – one day for the women’s pro race and one day for the men’s – remains the question, but for now Ironman would love to return to Hawaii. “Kona is a special place and an important part of our history, and it is our intention is to continue to make Kona home and return every year”, Ironman’s Senior Vice President for World Championship events, Diana Bertsch, commented.

Not everyone feels the same way, though. Besides several race organizations that would love to see the Ironman World Championship move around, also some Kona locals and pro athletes wouldn’t mind a rotating system. Kona’s small town is usually overcrowded during this one week in October, not to everyone’s liking. The infrastructure can hardly deal with these huge crowds.

In a column for Triathlete pro triathlete Heather Wurtele shared her opinion on the topic: “No, there’s nothing quite like swimming in the ocean in Kona. The Speedo-clad posturing and people-watching at Dig Me Beach during race week is pretty spectacular, but look away from the people in the water, and you’ll see understandably grumpy locals rolling their eyes as thousands of triathletes descend on their small community.”

She adds that a rotating format would force athletes to adapt to different climates instead of being specifically accustomed to the Hawaiian climate. Not all athletes like the heat, so it would create a fairer chance for athletes that usually prefer racing in colder and less humid climates.

Earlier this week, Patrick Lange also mentioned that the COVID-19 situation on Kona remains worrying due to the few IC beds that are available. In that regard, he feels certain about St. George taking place next year, but still questions the chances for the Ironman World Championship on Kona to be feasible by that time.