Pandemic forces IRONMAN World Championship to move out of Kona for first time in 40-plus years

Coronavirus

FILE – Athletes compete during the run portion of the IRONMAN World Championships brought to you by Amazon on October 13, 2018 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — For the first time in more than 40 years, the IRONMAN World Championship will move outside of Hawaii due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The inaugural event will instead take place in St. George, Utah, on May 7, 2022, prior to returning to Kona with a new two-day race format in October.

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“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 Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “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.”

IRONMAN organizers said the ongoing uncertainty regarding Hawaii’s ability to host the event in February required a change in venue — Kailua-Kona has been the host to the inaugural event since 1978.

Also for the first time, the pinnacle event for the triathlon will take place over two days, allowing for an expanded field of 50 women to race on Oct. 6 and 50 men to race on Oct. 8. Details on the age-group races will be released in the coming weeks.

“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.”

Luana Hospitality Principal, Eric von Platen Luder, added that the loss of the past two IRONMAN World Championship races dealt Hawaii an economic blow.

“Our restaurants have always received a big boost from the race, athletes, and their families,” he said. “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.”

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

IRONMAN athletes registered for the 2021 and 2022 editions of the triathlon, along with those currently registered for the 2022 IRONMAN St. George, will be contacted directly.

For more information and event details, click here.

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