IRONMAN Announces Safe Return to Racing Event Guidelines Through IRONMAN Smart Program

May 28, 2020

- Leaning on standards from the World Health Organization and guidance from the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, IRONMAN releases guidelines for the future of operating IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events

TAMPA, Fla. (May 28, 2020) – IRONMAN today announced its Safe Return to Racing event guidelines, a series of comprehensive operating principles prepared in accordance with industry standards for open air mass participation sporting events. Based on standards from the World Health Organization (WHO) and developed with guidance from the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board (IGMAB), the best practices are designed to allow for IRONMAN® and IRONMAN® 70.3® triathlons to be organized in a manner consistent with each of IRONMAN’s local community objectives and within the expectations set by public health entities around the world as they relate to the impacts of COVID-19. IRONMAN, through its IRONMAN Smart™ Program under which these guidelines fall, is committed to conducting races in a way that reduces risk for athletes, volunteers, and host communities.

IRONMAN benchmarked races around the world in order to identify and measure concentrations of physical touchpoints, proximal interactions, and density, focusing on every aspect of the race experience, from when athletes arrive at an event until they leave the venue post-race.

As a result, the Safe Return to Racing operating principles are organized around five broad areas of contagion risk mitigation:

  • Enhanced Hygiene: Hand sanitizer, hand washing stations, and disinfectant wipes will be readily available around our venues. Cleaning of common venue areas will be enhanced. Staff and volunteers will be provided with face coverings and gloves to be used while working in all athlete-facing areas. Athletes will be provided with face coverings at packet pickup and are expected to wear a face covering around event venues.
  • Screening and Education: Appropriate personal health, personal hygiene and safe support education and training will be provided for staff and volunteers in necessary functional areas. This includes the future expansion of the IRONMAN Smart Program to provide Volunteer Smart™ guidelines for volunteers. Athletes and volunteers will be required to fill out a pre-race health questionnaire. Additionally, in many venues no-touch body temperature screening will be instituted. Per the World Health Organization guidelines, individuals with a body temperature of greater than 100.4º Fahrenheit or 38º Celsius will not be allowed to race, volunteer or work.
  • Density Reduction: We will institute measures to increase space for athletes and supporting personnel in areas such as swim start, transition, and finish line. Modification or elimination of non-essential race services and functions, such as banquets may also occur.
  • Touchpoint Minimization: We will reduce or remove touchpoints and points of interaction between staff, athletes, and volunteers without compromising event safety and security, through redesign and reconfiguration of event village areas as well as race course zones such as aid stations.
  • Athlete Self-Reliance: Through the Athlete Smart™ program, athletes will be empowered to determine their individual level of self-reliance to further minimize interaction and touch points with race officials and volunteers. Athletes will be encouraged to Race Smart™ by carrying nutrition and hydration while utilizing items such as hydration vests and event offered special needs stations. Athletes should review and embrace Athlete Smart Self Reliance Tips which can be found here ironman.com/return-tips.

“Safety and community have always been the north stars of our organization, and while the decision around when to host races will ultimately depend on local communities and public health authorities, we have been working with experts and race stakeholders on how to conduct events in a post-COVID environment that allows for the economic, mental and physical benefits endurance events provide,” said Andrew Messick, President & CEO of The IRONMAN Group. “We have created a plan for returning to racing and believe that these guidelines keep our athletes, volunteers, staff and communities safe.”

Implementing these best practices across IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events, including our Athlete Self-Reliance recommendations, has the ability to eliminate up to 90 percent of total touchpoints and interactions for athletes in a typical race.

“These guidelines are designed to help our communities with the return to healthy and safe racing so they can once again secure the benefits of hosting our races. These guidelines are crafted in close consultation with the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, our communities, and others who are an integral part of the race ecosystem,” said Messick.

IRONMAN has also developed a Return to Racing Athlete Pledge that emphasizes the renewed athlete and participant responsibility for competitive cooperation, providing space and time for everyone to participate safely. The Pledge will remain a component of the IRONMAN Smart Program and serves to empower athletes to have their best race day possible by racing safely and considerately. Upon taking the pledge, athletes can download a digital badge in acknowledgement of their commitment and cooperation. 

IRONMAN continues to monitor for pandemic updates from public health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and respective national organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will continue to follow the guidance of local authorities, when determining the status of IRONMAN events and programs. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, IRONMAN is dedicated to adapting the Safe Return to Racing guidelines in line with the current environment. Additional COVID-19 resources and updates from IRONMAN are available at www.ironman.com/updates.

For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to press@ironman.com.


About The IRONMAN Group

The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running™ Series, IRONKIDS®, ITU World Triathlon Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and The Sun-Herald City2Surf® presented by Westpac, Ultra-Trail® World Tour events including Tarawera Ultra and Ultra-Trail Australia™, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with more than 235 events across 55+ countries. On March 26, 2020, Wanda Sports Group (Nasdaq: WSG) entered into an agreement to sell The IRONMAN Group to Advance; closing is anticipated in mid-2020. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board

Established in January 2017, the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board (IGMAB) was assembled to provide the highest level of preventative, emergent and post care recommendations for medical standards on a global basis. As an independent medical advisory group focused on health and safety, the board supports The IRONMAN Group by providing guidance, reviewal and medical recommendations for general athlete health questions, event medical plans, and significant medical developments globally. Additionally, the IGMAB has developed a comprehensive Event Medical Guide, which serves as a general reference and resource for organizing medical services or providing care to the participants of IRONMAN® and IRONMAN 70.3® triathlons and other IRONMAN Group endurance events.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the board has been recognized as one of the preeminent global resources in advising and collaborating with international health and sporting organizations with expertise in outdoor mass participatory endurance events. The board is currently engaged with:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) – Mass Participatory Events steering committee
  • World Athletics (formerly IAAF) Pandemic Advisory Committee
  • International Institute of Race Medicine
  • International Olympic Committee (IOC)
  • International Triathlon Union (ITU)
  • USA Triathlon (USAT)

Appendix A: 

IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board – Current Sitting Board Members 

Thomas “TK” Miller, MD, VA, USA – Board Chairman

  • Vice Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Chief, Section of Sports Medicine Carilion Clinic
  • Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Carilion Clinic Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences
  • Chief Physician, Race Day Medical Services, IRONMAN World Championship – current (medical staff since 1990)
  • Team Physician, Virginia Military Institute – current
  • Team Physician, Southern Virginia University – current
  • Assistant Medical Director, Pittsburgh Marathon, 1985
  • Medical Director USA Triathlon, 1990-2004
  • ITU Medical Committee, Subcommittee on Long-Distance Events, Research, Race Day Acute Care, 1996-2004, Medical Control (Doping) Commission,1995-2002
  • Medical Coordinator (local) Tour DuPont, Tour de Trump (Roanoke time trials and stage race)
  • US Olympic Medical Staff, Lake Placid, NY, 1999
  • Medical Staff Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon; Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach
  • A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at UPMC followed by a fellowship Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy at the Hughston Clinic in Columbus Georgia, Dr. Miller holds academic appointments as Clinical Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine where he serves as Vice Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief of the Section of Sports Medicine.
  • As part of his 30+ year sports medicine practice, he has been involved with triathlon medical services since 1989, acting as Medical Director for USA Triathlon from 1990-2004, the ITU Medical Subcommittees on Long-Distance Events, Research, Race Day Acute Care, ITU Medical Control (Doping) Commission, and as a member of the IRONMAN World Championship Medical staff, Hawai`i since 1990 – including his current position of race day Chief Physician. In addition to acting as Chair of the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, he is a member of the Triathlon Rules Harmonization Task Force and World Athletics OPMER Advisory Group.

Patrick Basset, MD, France

  • PHTLS, NAEMT Prehospital Trauma Life Support 9th Edition Instructor Update course
  • Training of trainers in Medical Simulation University of Chambery
  • Diploma of Medicine and Emergency in Mountain University of Grenoble & Toulouse
  • Specialty in Anesthesiology & resuscitation University Catholic of Louvain
  • Doctor of Medicine at University Catholic of Louvain Belgium (+ European equivalence)
  • French SAT science Division
  • Specific Medical courses to Rescue and Medical team for PERF SANTÉ
  • Founder & President of Ultra Sports science Foundation
  • President of the International Trail Running Association Health Commission (ITRA)
  • Practice rescue medicine in Mountain helicopter team
  • Medical Director of “PERF Santé” education and research in health science
  • Medical Director of Marathon of Paris 60 000 runners 10k & Half Marathon
  • Medical Director of “Étape du tour de France” 15000 Cyclist / year
  • Medical Director of UTMB
  • Medical Director of International Aéroport of Lyon & Marseille
  • Private practice Anesthetist in Department of Anesthesiology
  • Medical Director of DOKEVER Medical Assistance Company 

Paul A Berlin, MS, NRP, AZ, USA

  • IRONMAN World Championship Medical Director
  • Paul A Berlin, MS, NRP, is nationally recognized for his contributions to emergency medical education with forty-five years of emergency medical service and shares his passion for teaching and advances in emergency medicine with all areas of healthcare education. He holds a Master of Science degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Paul reaches beyond the traditional functions of emergency medicine to be a catalyst and advocate for providing education that promotes change, development and improvement in delivery of patient care.
  • Paul has been a volunteer with the American Heart Association since 1976 and was a major contributor to development of the Advanced Cardiac Life Support for Experienced Provider material, as well as the 2000 ACLS Provider and Instructor Manuals. He has participated in updating International Resuscitation Guidelines for several years.
  • Paul remains involved with medical support for many sporting and large events including disaster response, as a member of a Department of Homeland Security Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. He has been attending the IRONMAN World Championship Triathlon for 25 years and has served as the Medical Director in Kona, Hawai`i since 2014. He has successfully completed 8 full IRONMAN and 16 IRONMAN 70.3 events.

Teresa Bertsch, MD, MA. AZ, USA

  • Vice President of Medical Affairs, The NARBHA Institute
  • Chief Medical Officer (CMO), The Guidance Center
  • She is responsible for overseeing the development, quality and management of hospital, clinical staff, programs and services.
  • Since 2010, she has also practiced integrated care at North Country HealthCare, an FQHC. As adjunct faculty for AT Still School of Medicine and faculty for NCHC Family Practice Residency, she teaches medical students and residents to provide compassionate, trauma-competent psychiatric care.
  • Appointee to State of AZ COVID-19 Pandemic BH Clinical Leadership Advisory Group.
  • Prior member of Coconino County Health Department (CCHD) Disaster Response Incident Management Team and chair of Pandemic Flu Behavioral Health sub-committee.
  • Bertsch received her BA and MA from Stanford University, Medical Degree from Case Western Reserve University, and was Chief Resident at University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry.
  • Endurance athlete

Fred H. Brennan, Jr., DO, FAOASM, FAAFP, FACSM, FL, USA –

  • Brennan is currently an assistant program director for the University of South Florida/BayCare Sports Medicine Fellowship Program in Clearwater, Florida.
  • He has published multiple book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles with a special interest in endurance sports medicine. Dr. Brennan is a two-time Boston Marathon finisher, a former NCAA Division 1 football player, and an IRONMAN World Championship finisher.
  • Brennan is a senior consultant physician to the IRONMAN World Championship and has been the Chief Medical Officer of Finish Line Medical Tent B at the Boston Marathon since 2011. He has over 25 years of experience as a team physician and a finish line medical tent physician.
  • As an active duty Army officer/physician/educator, Dr. Brennan earned twenty-four military awards and medals – including the Bronze Star Medal for service as a trauma and family physician in Baghdad, Iraq. He also served in the New Hampshire Air National Guard and retired in 2017 as the commander of the 157th Medical Group.
  • He specializes in the medical aspects of athletic care, the full scope of non-surgical musculoskeletal medicine, endurance medicine, post-concussion medical care, and musculoskeletal/sports ultrasound.
  • Brennan is a team physician for the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Yuri Hosokawa, Ph. D, ATC, JAPAN – IGMAB adjunct

  • Safety and Performance Optimization Laboratory
  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences Waseda University
  • Medical and Science Advisory Board Member, Korey Stringer Institute
  • Ambassador, International Institute for Race Medicine
  • Heat Adviser, Japan Coast Guard Fifth Regional Coast Guard
  • Adviser, Sport Safety Japan
  • Member, IOC Adverse Weather Impact Expert Working Group for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
  • Advisor, Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 

Robert Laird, MD, FL, USAMember emeritus

  • IRONMAN Hall of Fame Inductee
  • IRONMAN World Championship Med Dir (past)
  • Robert Laird received a BA at Vanderbilt University and his MD at the University of Tennessee Medical campus. He did a straight pediatric internship and residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital and was chief resident in pediatrics at Kauikeolani Children’s Hospital in Honolulu.
  • Laird provided medical care for athletes at the Nautilus International Triathlon held in Kona in February 1981. He served as medical director of the IRONMAN World Championship, competing in 1988, until 2003 when he retired from the medical tent to complete the 25th anniversary IRONMAN with his son and best friends. He returned as medical director in 2009 and retired permanently after the 2013 event. He has attended every IRONMAN event in Kona, currently serving as Medical Ambassador for the IRONMAN World Championship as well as co-chairman for the IRONMAN Sports Medicine Conference held in Kona.
  • Laird has volunteered in a medical capacity at many triathlons, marathons, and other sporting and/or charity events as well as participating in sporting activities including triathlons, marathons, swimming, outrigger canoe paddling, kayaking, trekking, mountain climbing and, most recently skiing. 

Francis G. O’Connor, MD, MPH COL(R), MC, USA

  • Past President, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
  • Medical Director, Consortium for Health and Military Performance
  • Professor and Immediate Past Chair, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Professor and past Chair of the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, and the current Medical Director for the Consortium on Health and Military Performance, Uniformed Services University, has been a leader in sports medicine education and research for the military for over 30 years. Dr. O’Connor has authored over 100 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals and numerous book chapters/technical reports/health promotion resources for the military. In addition, Dr. O’Connor is the editor of eight texts on sports medicine including, the Textbook of Running Medicine, and Sports Medicine for the Primary care Physician 3rd Edition and ACSM’s Sports Medicine: A Comprehensive Review. He has been on the board of several leading organizations in sports medicine including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the American Medical Athletic Association and is a past President of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine.
  • A retired Colonel in the United States Army, Dr. O’Connor is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and prior to his most recent posting at Uniformed Services University in the Department of Military Medicine, he served one year as a Command Surgeon with Special Operations in the Middle East. Dr. O’Connor is recipient of several awards for excellence in sports medicine research and education including the Korey Stringer Institute’s Korey Stringer Institute Lifesaving Research Award, presented by the NFL and Gatorade in 2012, and he was recently selected for an ACSM 2016 Citation Award. Dr. O’Connor has been a medical volunteer with the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) for over twenty-five years. He is a subject matter expert on exertional illness and exertional collapse and has been the lead author on collapse algorithm’s in mass participation events that are utilized at the MCM and events across the country. Dr. O’Connor is additionally an assistant team physician at George Mason University.

Tracey O’Connor, AUSTRALIA

  • A subject matter (SME) expert in triage and sports emergency care, Ms. O’Connor strategically advances the level of emergent care and communication coordination providing qualitative administration in endurance sports venues. Tracey has a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition with Distinction, University of Liverpool, UK. Is the owner and managing director of ASSIST First Aid based out of Queensland, Australia, providing expert medical personnel and services to major sporting and community events throughout Oceania and Asia since 2005.
  • Oversees the planning, training, implementation and operation of large venue remote medical triage facilities while prioritizing acute care patients with appropriate level of care algorithms optimizing and elevating emergency medical services procedures for global standards.
  • Tracey is the current Medical Coordinator for the Standard Charter Singapore Marathon, Melbourne Marathon, Noosa Tri, IRONMAN Cairns Asia Pacific Championship, 2021 ITU Multisport World Championships, Reef to Reef Mountain Bike Race, IRONMAN 3 Western Sydney, IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast, Runaway Noosa, Mooloolaba Triathlon, Sunshine Coast Marathon, Velothon Sunshine Coast, Brisbane Cycling Festival, Australian National Track Cycling Championships, Queensland Tri Series in Caloundra, UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Brisbane, Australian Half Marathon Championships.

Michael Ofner, AUSTRIA 

  • Medical Director – IRONMAN events in Austria, Bahrain, Dubai
  • Supervision and Guidance of athletes in hobby- and competitive sports
  • Consulting activities for companies in healthcare, sports and nutrition
  • Personal- and Fitness trainer at Parkhotel Pörtschach, Austria
  • Residencies in Trauma Surgery, Orthopaedics, Physical and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine, General Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Dermatology,
  • Gynecology and ENT in Private Clinic MariaHilf, Hansa
  • Private Clinic and Trauma Hospital Klagenfurt, Austria
  • Senior Consultant at Stronach Medical Group, Toronto, Canada
  • Chief Medical Officer at Schletterer Inc., Austria
  • CEO at Medyco International, Dubai (UAE); Vienna (Austria)
  • Scientific Director of the International Society of Regenerative Research
  • Private Practise for Sports- and Nutrition Medicine, Munich, Germany
  • Board member of the Austrian Society for Sports Nutrition
  • Prof. for Sports, Nutrition and Scientific Methods at Danube University Krems, Austria. Prof. for Sports and Nutrition Medicine at Medical University Graz, Austria


  • Executive Board Member – International Institute of Race Medicine
  • Medical Director – Dublin Marathon
  • Experienced passionate General Practitioner with a demonstrated history of working in the facilities services industry providing health and wellbeing to corporate companies by empowering their wellness journey. Strong healthcare services professional skilled in Management, Healthcare, Basic Life Support (BLS), Sports Medicine, and Customer Service.
  • Ui May Tan has gained her medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Having trained in a variety of fields to include Trauma and Orthopaedics, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Palliative Medicine, General and Geriatric Medicine and Psychiatry, subsequently completed her GP training and become the member of the Irish College General Practitioner (ICGP). Dr. Ui May Tan also completes her executive MBA in DCU.