It was possibly the most telling non-answer in Ironman history – when asked if we might see future Ironman World Championship events held outside of Hawaii, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick made it abundantly clear that was very much a possibility.
“One of the things that’s happened thanks to the pandemic is that we’ve been able to find a way to have two days of racing in Kona,” Messick said, referring to this year’s race in October which will see the women and certain age group men compete on Thursday, with the rest of the men competing on Saturday. “Creating a two-day race has been transformative for our 70.3 World Championship. That’s been an extraordinary success. Two days of racing for the Ironman world championship is going to be critical.”
“We’ll see,” Messick said in conclusion. “We’re going to see where this will take us.”
The message is seemingly clear to the officials in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, which has hosted the Ironman World Championship since 1982 – if Ironman can’t hold two days of racing on the Big Island, it’s ready to start hosting the race at venues that will.
This weekend’s race will be only the third location for the Ironman World Championship – the race originated in Honolulu in 1978. In 1982 there were two events held – one in Honolulu in February, then another on Kona in October.
Things were set up for this event in St. George during last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship which was also held here in Utah last year.
“It was becoming increasingly clear that Hawaii wasn’t going to be ready to welcome us,” Messick said. “We had largely made the decision that there wouldn’t be a 2021 world championship at all. That weekend … we were able to come up with a solution that enabled us all to be here today.”
“We’re thrilled to be here,” Messick continued. “It’s been a hard two and a half years. It’s been a challenge for all of us, but we’re thrilled to be here and do a bunch of things that we’ve never been able to do before.”
“We’re excited to be able to be in a position to host athletes from all over the world again,” Messick said. “We’re excited to see what a different venue and race course is going to do for the racing.”