With ongoing COVID travel restrictions—and case numbers on the rise again in many places—changes to fall race schedules are to be expected. And so the first major championship adjustment announcement came today: The two-day 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah will be condensed to a one-day event on Sept. 18. And 2022 Worlds scheduled for New Zealand will instead be moved to Utah.
Ironman officials noted that as many as half of the qualified athletes were going to be unable to attend next month, because of ongoing travel and border restrictions. With a smaller field, the event is now being moved from two days (where men and women raced on separate days, as they have since 2017) to one day (when both genders will race on the same day). In 2019, there were over 5,700 athletes across the two days; this year is expected to be significantly smaller.
“It is increasingly clear that these restrictions are not likely to be relaxed in time for most international athletes to be able to race in St. George,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman.
Additionally, the 2022 70.3 World Championship race was scheduled to be held in Taupō, New Zealand—but New Zealand and Australia continue to maintain strict borders, making an international event difficult to plan for. Ironman officials said they also wanted to give athletes the chance for a full two-day event in St. George, Utah. And so the 2022 70.3 World Championships have been moved to St. George and moved to Friday-Saturday, Oct. 28-29, 2022. (The full-distance Ironman in St. George is also making its return next year.)
That will also mark the return of 70.3 Worlds to a post-Kona timeframe. The 2023 race will continue as planned in Lahti, Finland.
Taupō Mayor David Trewavas said the town, home of Ironman New Zealand, will look to host the world championship event in the future. “We are working closely with our stakeholders and Ironman to come up with a new date as quickly as possible.”
For those who have already qualified, existing deferral policy for the world championships states that those who qualified before April 10 are able to defer to 2022 or 2023, if they are unable to travel because of government restrictions or are uncomfortable doing so. Those who qualified after April 10, 2021, however, signed a waiver saying they understood the uncertainties surrounding events right now and would not be able to defer. But, if you can not attend because you’re coming from a country with travel restrictions to the U.S., then you still may be able to reallocate your registration fee to 2022, 2023, or 2024 depending on availability.
You can see the full world championship deferral policy here.
It is also not clear at this time if there will be any change to the Ironman World Championship scheduled for Oct. 9, 2021 in Kona. The state of Hawaii recently re-implemented restrictions on social gatherings, limiting them to 25 people outdoors and imposing 50% capacity on bars and restaurants. However, professional events of over 50 people will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the county they’re in. There are also ongoing travel restrictions to enter Hawaii, with quarantines imposed for non-vaccinated travelers and for those coming from outside the trans-Pacific countries or from the U.S. (See the full restrictions here.)
Ironman officials said they had no updates about Kona at this time.