KAILUA-KONA (KHON2) — The IRONMAN World Championship is leaving the islands — at least partially.

The organization announced Wednesday that the races will be split between two locations starting in 2023.

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The women’s race will take place in Kailua-Kona on Oct. 14, 2023 while the men’s race date and location is still being determined.

According to IRONMAN, the men’s and women’s race will be changing locations in 2024.

It’s news that hit many competitors and coaches hard.

Grueling, but romantic, the Ironman’s marriage with the west side of the Big Island began back in 1981.

With dual host locations and different dates of race weeks, people will be able to focus on both races.

“I’ve been an IRONMAN athlete for 25 years, and Kona has always been the thing, just like we see it on NBC productions every year and for so many people, it’s a dream and for a long time, I could almost say that like Kona owned me as an athlete,” 18-time IRONMAN finisher and 4-time World Championship participant Michelle Simmons said.

“it kind of made me a little bit sad,” former Ironman competitor and coach Raul Boca Torres said. “I came to Hawaii to do this race because the Ironman, because the images I saw.”

He’s been here 33 years since, opening Boca Hawaii as a center for multi-sport training & racing.

The Big Island community’s concerns were evident this year as two races were held over two days. Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said that he’s pleased it will return in 2023 but “More than one race day during IRONMAN week is too many for the community to manage.”

KHON2 heard from several businesses that had to close or adjust their hours due to the race in 2022.

“It was a lot for the community over there to take in and you know, the traffic disruptions and road closures and police being rerouted to take care of this event like it’s, it’s a really big disruption to the community,” Simmons said.

It raises concerns that after 2024 the Ironman World Championship could leave entirely.

“I think the Ironman it is what it is because of Kona and I think they are walking on a very thin line and if they realize what an impact it will have in the future,” Torres said.

The women’s race is slated for Oct. 14th of 2023 with the site of the men’s race scheduled to be announced in January.

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“Hawai`i County has long enjoyed partnering with IRONMAN and this year’s epic races were another example of world-class athletic competition held on the traditional Kona-Kohala world championship course,” said Hawai`i County Mayor Mitch Roth.

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All athletes who have previously qualified and registered for the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship are said to be contacted directly with additional information.

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He continued, “We learned, however, that more than one race day during IRONMAN week is too many for the community to manage. We are pleased that IRONMAN plans to return to Kailua-Kona as a co-host of the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship and look forward to more exciting events in the future.”