Everyone dreams of competing here. It’s the fuel that drags many people out of bed at 5 A.M., ready to jump in the freezing pool or on the bike on a rainy day. It’s the thought of racing here, on the biggest scene, why many people endure hours and hours of hard training.
Of course, we are talking about the Ironman World Championships, the most prestigious long distance triathlon race in history.
It all started in 1977, when the Collins family decided that they wanted to organize a race around the island of Oahu for swimmers , bikers and runners. When they presented the idea at the Waikiki Swim Club banquet in October 1977 about a race swimming 2.4 mi ( 3.86km), cycling 112 mi (180km) and running a full marathon (26.4 mi, 42.2km), all subsequently…Everyone laughed , thinking it would be impossible to complete it.
In 1978 the race finally took place for the first time under the name of Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon, naming the winner, “the Ironman”. Proving that the race could be finished.
From that point onwards, the competition took place every year with the exception of 2020 and 2021, due to COVID restrictions. But this year it’s returning back home to Hawaii.
In 1997 the Australian John MacLean became the first person in a wheelchair to finish the Ironman gaining even more international traction. Today, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world finished the race and became an “Ironman”. Proving that “Anything is possible” – as the motto of the race says.
Qualifying for the World Championship is achieved through placement in one of the other Ironman races or some Ironman 70.3 races. Each Full Ironman race has some slots allocated. By default, one slot is available for the winner of each age group (male and female are counted separately). The rest of the slots are allocated proportionally on race day based on the number of participants in each age group.
There could be any number of slots allocated, between 40 and 100 per event. The exact number of slots given at each race should be announced by the organizer prior to the race. So don’t worry, you can plan ahead of time if you aim for a spot.
Some slots will also be available on half-distance events, allocated by the same criteria as in the full distance race.
The future of the World Championship
In 2021, for the first time ever, the World Championship took place outside of Kona, due to COVID reasons. St. George picked up the honors and they did a great job organizing it. Despite this, the organization decided that this race should be back in Hawaii and moved the 2022 race back to its origins. With the 2023 race already being decided to take place on the big island.
Although, this year’s race will have a twist. The event will be split in two. First part of the event will take place on the 6th and will be mainly composed of the women’s races, and the second will be on the 8th, for the men’s races.
The Ironman CEO Andrew Messick said about this year’s format: “Having two days of racing for the future of the Ironman World Championships is going to be critical. We’re hopeful we’ll have a long-term solution for two days of racing in Kona, but we’re going to learn a lot this fall, and we’ll see.”
According to Andrew, the reason behind this decision is to make enough space for a bigger field to race. The organization already applied this format in this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship, with great success.
What does it mean and what does it take to earn a spot for the World Championship?
First of all you have to know that usually the qualification process is a “multi-year deal” between you and the sport.
A lot of people struggle to finish an Ironman. It’s a really hard race. So you can imagine that when the qualification slots are awarded only for the top few in each category…it is not an easy feature to reach!
Expect failures along the way, hard training days and tough races. But with discipline comes greatness.
You have to train constantly and strive for improvement. Find a training schedule that works for you and stick with it. You would also want to stay injury free. It’s almost impossible to do all of these things without a coach…but a coach is difficult to find…and more so, one that can mold on to your needs and adapt with you. A coach like Athletica.
Set out goals, divide them into smaller time frames and start working towards them. It’s not easy , but no one said it would be. Get in great physical and mental shape and learn pacing and discipline on race day.
Remember the old saying “it’s a marathon not a sprint”? Well this is more than a marathon … in fact you do a marathon, but after 7 hours of racing. You can only succeed if you are smart about it.
Okay…we’ve seen what it takes to race in Hawaii. But what about what it means?
Well, to state the obvious, it means that you are one of the best in the world. You know that within your gender and age category, there are not many people that can compete with you.
Besides , racing in Kona means that you are a part of its history. And not only the history of the race…but the history of the sport altogether. You should be immensely proud of yourself just for being at the start line!