While there have been media reports that Ironman intends to hold the men’s Ironman World Championship in Nice, France next year, the company has been steadfast that no announcement about the other site is coming until January. That likely means that Ironman is still in the process of finalizing the deatails for the event – everything from road closures to license fees are probably being ironed out. There’s also a chance that Ironman is negotiating with a few different venues in order to ensure that they get a two year deal – in our interview with Ironman CEO, Andrew Messick, he was clear that the intention was to remain at a venue for at least two years to the women would get the same opportunity as the men.
So, where could this mystery venue be? We have some thoughts.
As we reported last month, there’s been lots of talk indicating this will be the site of the men’s Ironman World Championship next year. That makes a lot of sense – Nice is one of the sport’s longest and most famous venues. There’s been an Ironman there since 2005 and the inaugural Nice International Triathlon took place in 1985, just three years after the Ironman World Championship moved to Kona. Nice has more than enough infrastructure to host a world championship event, too, it hosted the 70.3 worlds in 2019. Having the men race in Europe to start this new rotating process off would be huge, too.
There are a lot of things the Canary Island closest to the coast of Africa has going for it in terms of a go at hosting the Ironman World Championship. Just ask Ironman Lanzarote race director, Fabio Cabrera, who suggested that Lanzarote would be a great spot for the worlds on his Instagram feed today.
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So what does Lanzarote have going for it as an Ironman World Championship venue? Since 1992 Lanzarote has hosted one of Ironman’s most iconic events. It is considered one of the sport’s toughest races, making it an ideal challenge for the world’s best athletes. A tourist destination, Lanzarote has lots of hotels, which means there won’t be any issues hosting all the athletes. The Ironman race there is world-renowned and is a bucket-list event for many, especially European Ironman athletes.
Most importantly, though, the island has received lots of European Union support over the years to help promote tourism. That support would hopefully provide the financial backing that will likely be required to pay for any licensing fees Ironman would want for the event.
Abu Dhabi/ Bahrain/ Qatar/ Saudi Arabia
As we just witnessed with the World Cup in Qatar, there’s an appetite for oil- and natural gas-rich countries in the Middle East to host international events. Qatar hosted the cycling world championships in 2016. Abu Dhabi hosted the World Triathlon Grand Final last month and used to host a major international long-distance race, too (pictured above). Bahrain supports the sport’s richest triathlon team. Saudi Arabia is said to be in the hunt for the 2030 World Cup – it’s not hard to imagine that hosting the Ironman World Championship would help boost an international sporting image. The upside for Ironman with any of these venues would be each country’s ability to pay very large license fees.
When Ironman chose to start rotating the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Mont-Tremblant was the first venue it chose. The spectacular race site in the Laurentians is as close to a near-perfect venue as you can get – lots of accommodation, an enthusiastic and supportive community, along with the kind of government support that is willing to shut down roads and even pave them to improve the race conditions.
Whether or not the region could come up with the necessary funding to get the worlds would likely be the biggest challenge for this to be a viable venue, especially in 2023.
They’ve done it before – why wouldn’t it work again? If Ironman doesn’t find a permanent alternate site and does, in fact, rotate the world championship, slot St. George, Utah in at some point. It’s not likely a great option for 2023, though – after hosting three world championship events in a 13-month span the community is likely ready for a bit of a break!
While we can think of nothing more exciting than the Ironman World Championship taking place in a place like Cairns (host of the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship) or Taupo (long-time venue for Ironman New Zealand), it just doesn’t seem like a realistic option for 2023. Ironman is going to be dealing with enough unhappy men from the northern hemisphere who want to be racing in Kona. While a race in Australia or New Zealand would be huge for athletes from those countries, it’s not likely an option for 2023.