According to plan, the Ironman World Championship 2021 should actually take place on October 9, 2021 as usual in Hawaii. But in view of the high Corona infection figures in Hawaii, the competition was initially moved to February 5, 2022.
At the end of September 2021, the organizers announced that the Ironman World Championship will now take place on May 7, 2022, not in Hawaii, but in St. George in the US state of Utah. This is the first time that the tradition-steeped Ironman World Championship will not be held in Hawaii.
Ironman Hawaii is one of the most challenging endurance events in the world. It is over the long distance of 3.86 kilometers (2.4 miles) swimming, 180.2 kilometers (112 miles) cycling and the marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles) running.
Hawaii is the cradle of the Ironman. In 1977, the US American John Collins and several fellow competitors decided to combine the three most challenging endurance sports competitions on the island into one race. This was the birth of the long-distance triathlon, which was first held on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu in 1978 as the forerunner of today's Ironman World Championship. Since 1982, the competition has been held annually under the trademarked name Ironman World Championship, always on the main island of Hawaii.
The relocated Ironman World Championship 2021 will be the first Ironman World Championship not to be held in Hawaii. In October 2022, however, the competition will return to its old home.
With the initially determined corona-related postponement of Ironman Hawaii from October 2021 to May 2022, a new problem revealed itself to the organizers and participants: February is the main travel season, especially of US tourists to Hawaii. With accommodation, rental cars and other infrastructure already in short supply, the organizers were no longer convinced that the World Championships would run smoothly.
Ironman competitions near St. George in Utah are not new: From 2010 to 2012, Ironman St. George was part of the Ironman World Series and offered the opportunity to qualify for the World Championships in Hawaii. The event was scheduled to return in 2020. However, because of Corona, the event was moved to 2021, and later to May 7, 2022. So the Ironman World Championship is a comeback and - at least one-time - upgrade of Ironman St. George all in one.
The weather in St. George that can be expected in May is very different from the usual conditions in Hawaii in October:
|St. George in May||Hawaii in October|
|average temperature in °C||22.4||25.6|
|average rainy days||2||11|
|average humidity in %||17||73|
A total of US$650,000 in prize money was paid out at the last event in 2019:
- The winner and the female winner each received US$120,000.
- Position 2 still earned $60,000
- Third place received $40,000.
- The tenth-place finisher and the tenth-place finisher each received an additional $10,000.
In 2020, the Ironman World Championship was cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. At the last event in 2019, Germany had reason to cheer: Jan Frodeno won the men's race with a course record of 7:51:13 hours. Anne Haug triumphed in the women's race.
The top 3 of 2019 at a glance:
- Jan Frodeno (Germany)
- Timothy O'Donnell (USA)
- Sebastian Kienle (Germany)
- Anne Haug (Germany
- Lucy Charles-Barclay (Great Britain)
- Sarah Crowley (Australia)
It is not sure yet whether the two individual triathlon Olympic champions from Tokyo will be there. But the organizers of the Ironman World Championships have already invited Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway and Flora Duffy from Bermuda. At least the Norwegian is likely to participate. Blummenfeldt had wanted to qualify anyway via the Ironmann Frankfurt on 15.8. and has also won three times at the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain. Duffy, on the other hand, has enjoyed her greatest successes over the shorter distances.
The last athlete to win both the Ironman World Championship and the Olympic Games is Germany's Jan Frodeno.
In contrast to other events such as the Berlin Marathon, where amateur runners as well as the world's best can start, the starters for the Ironman World Championship must first qualify. For the 2021 competition, this was/is possible at the following events:
- Ironman Tallinn, 5.9.2020
- Ironman Cairns, 27.9.2020
- Ironman Florida, 7.11.2020
- Ironman Cozumel, 22.11.2020
- Ironman New Zealand, 3/27/2021
- Ironman Tulsa, 5/23/2021
- Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, 6/5/2021
- Ironman Cairns, 6.6.2021
- Ironman 70.3 Lubbock, 6/26/2021
- Ironman Coeur d'Alene, 6/27/2021
- Ironman 70.3 Finland, 7/3/2021
- Ironman Lanzarote, 7/3/2021
- Ironman UK, 7/4/2021
- Ironman Lake Placid, 25.7.2021
- Ironman Tallinn, 7.8.2021
- Ironman Gdynia, 8.8.2021
- Ironman Finland, 8/14/2021
- Ironman Frankfurt, 8/15/2021
- Ironman Copenhagen, 22.8.2021
Jan Frodeno is with three victories on Hawaii the most successful among the active men. But the Cologne native is still far away from the record of the US Americans Dave Scott and Mark Allen of six victories each.
A woman won even more often: Paula Newby-Fraser (first Zimbabwe, later USA) dominated the competition in the 1980s and 1990s. The most successful currently active athlete is the Swiss Daniela Ryf with four titles.
Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf are also the ones who hold the current course records:
Men's course record: 7:51:13 hours
Women's course record: 8:26:18 hours
Jan Frodeno improved the world record over the Ironman distance to 7:27:53 hours on 18 July 2021 at the Tri Battle Royale in Allgäu.
On the women's side, Germany's Anne Haug holds the world record time over the triathlon long distance with 8:31:32 hours at Ironman Copenhagen 2019.
The Ironman World Championship is also an hour-long battle with one's own psyche. Distractions such as music on the ears are strictly forbidden. Likewise, the use of wetsuits during the swim is not permitted, at least for official world championship starters.
The professional participants cannot use their own food during the competition. Instead there will beThere will be stations every 7 miles on the bike course and every mile on the run course, where runners can refresh themselves with food and drinks. This is the selection:
- Gatorade Endurance
- Red Bull
- Himalayan Salt Kettle Chips
- Quantum Energy Bars
- Fig Newtons
It is not yet known whether the Ironman Hawaii 2021 will be shown on German free TV. However, the popularity of the past editions, which were broadcast by ARD and ZDF respectively, with the German public speak for a renewed broadcast. At the last edition in 2019, the TV broadcast started at midnight. Who wanted, could follow via Livestream already from 6 pm German time the complete race.
With English commentary, the Ironman World Championship 2021 can be seen via livestream on the Facebook page Ironman Now.