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Vaccine passport means Canadian athletes likely to miss out on huge Kona-qualifying event

150 qualifying slots almost four-times the regular Ironman World Championship allotment

Yesterday we reported that vaccine passports have arrived in triathlon, at least at one Ironman event. Ironman has confirmed to us that athletes will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to compete at Ironman Lake Placid on July 25, 2021. Canadian athletes looking for a chance to race at the Ironman World Championship will likely be missing out on a great opportunity to compete on the Big Island this year. Since few Canadians are likely to be fully vaccinated by the end of July, they won’t be able to compete for one of the 150 qualifying slots on offer in Lake Placid this year. Even if they were willing to go through the 14-day quarantine required when returning to Canada, they would likely not be able to participate in the race.

The 150 qualifying slots on offer at this weekend’s Ironman North American Championship and at Ironman Lake Placid are twice as many as are available at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, which will offer 75 Kona qualifying spots this year, or the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Australia, which will also offer 75 qualifying slots. Most Ironman events offer 40 qualifying slots, with a higher number typically available at regional championships like Frankfurt, Cairns or Tulsa.

Deferring entries to 2022

“We are aware of the new requirements by the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba and ROOST with regards to hosting events this summer in the community,” Colby Gorniewicz, communications director at Ironman, wrote in an email today. “Those requirements now include athletes showing proof of vaccination in designated athlete-only areas. Based off this new requirement, our team will be developing new event protocols that will be communicated to our athletes once confirmed with the Village, Town and ROOST.” (ROOST is the Regional Office of Sustainability Tourism.)

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Related: Will this be the easiest year to qualify for Kona?

“We do know that this year’s race will look a bit different, and that the event venues will be restricted to athletes,” Gorniewicz continued. “This includes Ironman Village, transitions, as well as the start and finish lines. All athletes have received communications yesterday informing them that they have the ability to defer to 2022 up until race day or transfer to select 2021 races while limited quantities allow. As it relates to other specific onsite procedures, we are still working through the details with the Town and Village officials to sort through the execution of our plan. Once the event plans are fully approved, we will communicate the additional details that could impact athletes.”

In a story posted on the Adirondack Daily Enterprise website, staff writer Elizabeth Izzo reports that race director Greg Borzilleri anticipates “registrations to stay in the mid-2,000s because many people are still concerned about traveling.” In 2019 there were 3,000 athletes registered for the race, but only 2,400 competed on race day. We also learned in Izzo’s story that because of construction at the Lake Placid Speed Skating Oval, the transition for this year’s race will be moved and the finish will take place on Main St. across from the Oval. The swim will also have a new route to accommodate the new transition area.

“Borzilleri told the town council last week that ‘people are so excited to come back here,’ and Ironman hopes to be a ‘world leader in event operations with this model,’” Izzo reports.