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Rwanda looks to build back tourism through new Ironman event

Fourth country in Africa to host an Ironman event

Photo by: Andy Martin Photography

Turns out we should have seen this coming. In a story posted on its website on May 19, 2021, The New Times, “Rwanda’s leading daily” newspaper reported that the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was planning on using sports as “an avenue to recover from the effects of Covid-19 and diversify tourism offerings in the country,” according to the board’s CEO, Clare Akamanzi. “Sports cannot be held online because people have to meet for competition.”

Akamanzi also told the newspaper that the RDB “is organizing a major international event ‘Ironman Triathlon’ in which people will come from abroad for competition namely cycling, marathon, and swimming, an event which is expected to be held in Rwanda in June 2022.”

“We will invite about 1,500 people to participated in the Ironman competitions,” Akamanzi said. “Thos are the kind of activities we are planning in order to speed up tourism recovery.”

Today we learned that the date will be slightly different, and who knows if that number will pan out, but Ironman Rwanda is slated to take place in the city of Rubavu on Aug. 14, 2022.

“Rwanda becomes the fourth country in Africa to host an IRONMAN 70.3 event,” said Thomas Veje Olsen, Managing Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for The Ironman Group. ”’We know from our work in South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt that there is a huge appetite for endurance sports on the African continent, and we are excited to add Ironman 70.3 Rwanda to our race calendar. We look forward to putting this unique region on display, athletes and travelling spectators can have so much to look forward to when visiting the district of Rubavu in Rwanda.”

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“Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa and with its incredible biodiversity, including wildlife living amongst volcanoes, mountainous rainforests, magnificent gorillas and scenic plains, athletes will enjoy an adventurous experience like none other,” today’s press release continued. “The event host city, Gisenyi situated in Rubavu, is a waterfront town on the shores of Lake Kivu, an hour away from the Volcanoes National Park, and makes a good stopover for relaxation after gorilla tracking. Rubavu has red sandy beaches, warm, clean water, and an easy-going tropical character. It is a great place to unwind, soak up the tranquil vibe while bird watching.”

“Athletes participating in Ironman 70.3 Rwanda will take on a 1.9km swim at the waterfront of Gisenyi in Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes,” today’s release continued. “Lake Kivu, is just south of the equator and lies at an altitude of 1463 meters above sea level. Athletes will then take on a 90km bike course which takes them out and back through rural Rwanda towards Mount Karisimbi, situated in the Volcanoes National Park, the home of the worlds remaining mountain gorillas. Lastly, the multi-lap 21.1km run course spans the shoreline of Lake Kivu along the Rubona peninsula with beautiful vistas of the shoreline.”

Ironman 70.3 Rwanda will offer 30 qualifying slots for the 2023 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Lahti, Finland.