More Than 2,300 Athletes Will Descend Upon Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Oct. 8 for World’s Most Iconic Endurance Event
TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2016) — More than 2,300 of the world’s top athletes will unite in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on October 8 for the most iconic one-day endurance event in the world – the 2016 IRONMAN® World Championship. IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Holding company, has produced this world class event since 1978.
The largest international athlete field in this race’s history will toe the line for the 38th year of the annual IRONMAN World Championship triathlon, representing 64 countries and territories on six continents. Athletes ranging in age from 19 to 83 have earned their championship opportunity by having finished among the best at one of more than 40 qualifying IRONMAN events worldwide.
Regionally, North America represents 40.5 percent of the field while Europe is close behind with 36.5 percent of athletes registered to race in the IRONMAN World Championship. Asia-Pacific brings 14.3 percent while South America represents just over six percent of the field.
“The inspiration that is generated by not only our amazing professional athletes but also our age-groupers, shows why the IRONMAN World Championship continues to be the pinnacle event of the endurance world,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of IRONMAN. “Over 2,300 of the world’s best athletes have traveled to this prestigious island to showcase their unwavering strength, passion and commitment while proving that truly ‘ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.’”
The United States leads the way with 804 competitors, accounting for just over 33 percent of registrants this year. Athletes from all 50 U.S. states are represented, with the greatest number coming from California (153) followed by Colorado (51), Hawaii (49), New York (46), and Florida and Texas with 45 athletes each.
Australia leads the international contingent with the second-most athletes competing (230), followed by Germany (195), Canada (137), Great Britain (124) and France (119). Other athletes from countries as far as Turkey, Slovenia, Iceland and Denmark are traveling around the globe for their shot at the title.
The competitive fields should provide for an exciting race with IRONMAN World Champions Jan Frodeno of Germany and Daniela Ryf of Switzerland returning to defend their titles. The men’s competition is packed with a strong veteran group that includes former IRONMAN 70.3® and IRONMAN World Champions. Sebastian Kienle (DEU), coming off a narrow second-place finish at the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, will provide Frodeno with a strong challenge alongside Brent McMahon (CAN), Tim O’Donnell (USA) Andy Potts (AUS) and Timothy Van Berkel (AUS). On the women’s side, Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae (AUS) is back for redemption following last year’s injury-plagued race which forced her to withdraw. Meanwhile, both Ryf and Carfrae will be challenged by last year’s top American finisher Heather Jackson, as well as Mel Hauschildt (AUS), Julia Gajer (DEU) and relative newcomer Kaisa Lehtonen (FIN) all of whom have IRONMAN titles to their names.
Racing alongside the talented pro field is an inspiring group of age-group athletes that includes IRONMAN Legacy Program athlete and basketball trainer to NBA stars, Joe Abunassar, proving that his clients aren’t the only ones to push physical limits; the courageous father and son team of Jeff and Johnny Agar; Iran’s first female IRONMAN triathlete Shirin Gerami racing to transcend cultural divides and inspire women around the world; the first female African-American fighter pilot to see combat in a major war, U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Christina Hopper; the globally inspiring 28-year old Australian brush fire survivor, Turia Pitt, who is proving doctors wrong after suffering burns to 65 percent of her body; and Japan’s Hiromu Inada who, at 83 years old, could become the oldest competitor to ever cross the IRONMAN World Championship finish line.
The 2016 field of athletes will tackle a 2.4-mile mass swim start in Kailua Bay, followed by a 112-mile bike along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi, exposing intense trade winds that buffet much of the western and northern coast of the Big Island. Athletes then take on a 26.2-mile run beginning on Ali’i Drive, where spectators pack the roads, up Palani Road to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway before making their way to the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority (NELHA). Athletes will complete their journey to the roar of tens of thousands of spectators as they cross the historic Ali’i Drive finish line.
Additional historical facts and stats on the field competing in this year’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i:
- This will be the largest athlete field ever at the IRONMAN World Championship, with over 2,300 competitors
- 70 percent of participants (1,683 athletes) are male
- 30 percent of participants (718 athletes) are female, which is up 2 percentage points from 2015 and also marks the largest female field in history at the IRONMAN World Championship.
- 43 is the average age of registrants this year
- 100 race participants (57 males, 43 females), or four percent of the total field, are professional athletes
- Hiromu Inada (Yachiyo, Chiba, Japan) is the oldest participant at 83, while Hiraya Shun (Asahi City, Chiba, Japan) is the youngest at 19
- Belarus is sending an athlete to the IRONMAN World Championship for the very first time.
- Eight athletes will be celebrating their birthday on race day
- All 50 U.S. states are accounted for, with the greatest number coming from California (153)
- Approximately 91,000 athletes register to compete in IRONMAN races each year, representing over 90 countries and territories
- Approximately 260,000 registered athletes representing over 155 countries and territories competed in IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 races this year
- 826 competitors representing 390 different TriClubs from around the world are racing at this year’s IRONMAN World Championship and total over 34.8 percent of the field
- 23 new IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 races were established in 2016
- More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the IRONMAN World Championship a success
The 2016 IRONMAN World Championship can be viewed live on www.ironman.com. Comprehensive coverage will capture every aspect of the race and feature a hosted show, athlete tracker and live blog.
In addition, NBC will air the IRONMAN World Championship special on Saturday, December 10 at 2:30 p.m. ET (check local listings for details).
A Wanda Sports Holdings company, IRONMAN operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, six of nine International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the UCI Velothon Majors Series, mountain bike races, premier marathons and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than 680,000 participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 260 events across 42 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.
IRONMAN World Championship
Since its inception in 1978 on the island of Oahu, the IRONMAN World Championship has etched its name in history through stellar performances, inspirational participants and emotional memories. In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i where it continues to take place to this day. The race sees over 2,300 athletes embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of IRONMAN World Champion. The most iconic one-day sporting event in the world is the culmination of over 40 global events with athletes around the world striving for one of the coveted qualifying slots.
About Wanda Sports Holding
Wanda Sports Holding is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media & marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.