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Hawaii 2023: Triathlon world in turmoil – Men’s Ironman not in Hawaii

Triathlon Hawaii 2023

Triathlon world in turmoil – Men’s Ironman not in Hawaii

2023 should mark the return of Jan Frodeno to Hawaii.  Nothing will come of it 2023 should mark the return of Jan Frodeno to Hawaii.  Nothing will come of it

2023 should mark the return of Jan Frodeno to Hawaii. He wanted to go to Kona one last time. Nothing will come of it

Those: pa/dpa/BELGIAN/David Pintens

The Triathlon World Championships and Hawaii have been closely linked for decades. This is now changing. Only one of two races will be held on the island next year. The organizer has apparently made a complete mistake.

Ihe triathlon world is rumbling. And huge. It is about the place that marks the origin of the long distance. The place that marks a longing for many, that combines tradition and world class like no other: the myth of Hawaii, the most legendary race in this sport, the Ironman World Championship.

The first age group athletes have booked their accommodations in Hawaii for October 2023. For yourself, for family, for friends. Your qualification is set, your vacation is submitted, the trip to Kailua-Kona is often a lifelong dream. And the men’s professional race is already electrifying with the return of three-time champion Jan Frodeno. One day he wants to go to Hawaii. It will be his farewell, his last showdown. Against the young savages. Against the reinvigorated Patrick Lange.

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The date was announced by Ironman long ago: the women are scheduled to start on October 12th and the men on October 14th on the Big Island. And now everything will probably be different, as “tri-mag” reports in agreement with international media. Accordingly, the starting field should not only be spread over two days, but also over two places: the women (professionals and age group athletes) in Hawaii, the men somewhere else. There is no official statement from Ironman yet.

According to “tri-mag”, there is a lot to be said for Nice as the venue for the men’s race. The excitement is great. The scene is waiting for official information.

Two days? That led to discussions

The background: For the first time ever, an Ironman World Championship was not held in Hawaii this year – but in Utah, and in May instead of October. This was due to the corona pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the Hawaii races in October 2020 and 2021. The 2021 edition was then made up for in Utah in May 2022, and the 2022 World Cup took place in Hawaii as usual in October.

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What was new, however, was that the starting field was spread over two days. Due to the canceled world championships in the pandemic, there was a backlog of athletes, since most of the other Ironman events took place during this time and Kona starting places were fought for. The mass of athletes could only be managed in two days.

Kailua-Kona Bay is a rallying point for many athletes during race week

Kailua-Kona Bay is a rallying point for many athletes during race week

Source: Donald Miralle

At the end of July, Ironman announced as the organizer: The world championship should also be a two-day event in Hawaii in 2023. There is still a small backlog of athletes from the Corona period – the qualified age groupers had the choice of starting in Utah, Hawaii in 2022, 2023 or 2024 – and the size of the women’s field will be adjusted to that of the men for more equality and support for women. Overall, however, significantly more age group starters can qualify. The slots have been allocated since this August. In the scene, the decision met with mixed reactions. The critics say that the appeal of triathlon is that women and men start together. And: Ironman is all about profit.

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However, the organizer had reckoned without the local community in Hawaii. It’s paying off now. The athletes suffer.

Will the men start in Nice?

The premiere this year as a two-day event provided a topic of conversation on site, the opinion of the population of the Big Islands was divided. The extension to two days is not set in stone, Mayor Mitch Roth told the local press. Apparently, local people were annoyed that Ironman had already announced a two-day World Cup for 2023 at the end of July 2022, “without all the affected departments being involved”. The Hawaii Police Union also had concerns. In the meantime there should be a decision to approve only one race day for next year.

To reduce the starting field again for 2023 so that the World Cup in Hawaii can be held in just one day? It’s far too late for that. The organizer can no longer catch what he started. Going to a different location with a two-day event? Would be fatal. The Ironman World Championship is largely about the Hawaii myth – not for everyone, but for most. It’s easy to see from the fact that few age group athletes went to Utah and most to Hawaii. Because the attention for the races in Hawaii was many times higher. Because many people outside of the triathlon scene don’t necessarily know that the race in Hawaii is a world championship – it’s quite simply the legendary Ironman Hawaii, for which only the world’s best qualify.

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With a division into two different places, Ironman at least gets the myth. At least in part. It can be assumed that the women’s field and the men’s field will always be allowed to go to Kailua-Kona in alternation. But the calls for a reduction to one day, for a “back to basics” for 2024 and beyond are likely to grow louder.

Why the women will probably start on the Big Island in 2023 is likely to be related to the fact that they were already at a disadvantage when it was split over two days: a competition on Thursday is significantly less attractive than on Saturday. Offering men the more attractive alternative now would hardly go down well. But where will they start?

The Dutch website “Tri-Today” already mentions the place and date: September 10, 2023 in Nice. Nice is not an unknown place in the triathlon world, but has a long tradition on the long distance with the first race in 1982.

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