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Let’s start with the first things simple: Yes, there are two Ironman World Championships in 2022. No, they are not both the 2022 world championship. (Yes, just to make things extra confusing there are two world championships in St. George, Utah. No, they are not both full Ironman races.)
Your cheat sheet, Cliffs Notes version:
|2021 Ironman World Championship||May 7, 2022||St. George, Utah|
|2022 Ironman World Championship||Oct. 6 & 8, 2022||Kona, Hawaii|
|2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championship||Oct. 28-29, 2022||St. George, Utah|
How did we get here?
The last Ironman World Championship was held on Oct. 12, 2019. Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug won that race. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has not been another Ironman World Championship since then.
The 2020 world championship race, typically held in October, was originally postponed to February 2021. That race was then canceled and we were to return again to the Big Island for the 2021 world championship—but that race was then postponed to February 2022. During the 2021 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah, Ironman officials hinted (and later announced) that the February race would move to May and move to St. George, Utah. The 2022 race would continue at the October 2022 date in its traditional Hawaiian location. The 2022 race would also feature a two-day event due to backlog—with women and a few men’s waves competing on Thursday, and the rest of the men competing on Saturday. (See the full 2022 Kona waves here.)
- 2020 Ironman World Championship: postponed, then canceled
- 2021 Ironman World Championship: postponed, then moved to May 2022 in St. George, Utah
- 2022 Ironman World Championship: two-day event hopefully happening as planned in Kona this October
Why (and when) did St. George happen?
Ironman St. George has been a cult classic since it debuted in 2010. But after three years, the course was widely considered “too hard.” The last edition, in 2012, famously had a 29% DNF rate due to the heat, hills, and wind. Winners Ben Hoffman and Meredith Kessler finished in a slow (for the pros) 9:07:04 and 10:12:59, respectively.
Since 2013, St. George, Utah has instead hosted a 70.3 event every year in May (except 2020) and that event has been home to the North American 70.3 championship a number of those years. Notably, Heather Wurtele has won the full twice and half-distance twice, and Kessler won the full the last year it existed and then the half-distance the two following years.
In 2020, the full Ironman St. George was set to return on a rotating basis—where it would be home to a full Ironman distance event every three years and a 70.3 the other two years—but COVID forced the cancellation of that race. In 2021, the town hosted both a 70.3 in May and the 70.3 World Championship in September.
The region has fully embraced triathlon, and jumped in to host both another 70.3 World Championship when New Zealand was forced to pull out because of COVID restrictions and the Ironman World Championship this May.
- 2010: Ironman St. George debuts in Utah—but the tough and challenging course lasts only three years
- 2013: 70.3 St. George debuts in May; it becomes a popular season opener and the North American 70.3 championship
- 2020: A full Ironman is set to return, but COVID cancels it
- 2021: St. George hosts a 70.3 in May and the 70.3 World Championship in September
- 2022: St. George hosts the 2021 Ironman World Championship in May (first Ironman back in town since 2012) and the 2022 70.3 World Championship in October