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Today, after 33 years of calling races, well-loved race announcer, author, and speaker, Mike Reilly announced his upcoming retirement on Instagram. Over the course of his career, “Voice of Ironman” Reilly had been behind the microphone at over 1,000 endurance events, bringing tens of thousands of athletes home across the finish line.
In his message to fans, Reilly cited family, and the ability to spend time with the ones he loves as the biggest reason he’ll be hanging up the mic at the end of this year. “I almost lost it when talking about my brothers and sisters [in the announcement],” Reilly told us, via telephone, from his home near San Diego, California, just hours after his emotional online statement.” They’re older than me, and I don’t know how much time I’ll have left to spend with them.”
Reilly said he’s kept going—particularly in light of the pandemic—even as he said it was “physically getting a little tougher and the voice was taking a little longer to recover.”
“The pandemic took all of us out of our norm and helped me realize what was important in life,” he said. “I wanted to give 2021 as much as I could and do a full race schedule in 2022.” Between 2021 and 2022, Reilly called roughly 23 races, a demanding schedule for anyone, let alone someone whose “70s are closer than my 60s,” as he put it. (Reilly prefers never to give his true age—an occupational side effect of always announcing racers’ ages as they cross the finish line, he says.)
Reilly’s last North American race will be Ironman Arizona on November 20, and his final event will be at Ironman New Zealand on December 10—it’ll be his 214th Ironman that he’s announced.
As for his last Ironman Hawaii experience in October? Reilly said his biggest worry was when a friend joked that there’ll be 20 triathletes waiting at the finish line on midnight of the last day of racing—all hoping to be the last one to get that historic final call.
But don’t worry diehard Voice-of-Ironman fans, Reilly said he “isn’t going away”—he’ll continue to release his podcast, do some public speaking—but starting after his last event in New Zealand, it’ll be on his terms. “I want to control my own time, and do the things that I want to do,” he said. “When other families take trips with us, they would always have to check in with me first, and I never felt good about that. I’m looking forward to saying, ‘I’m free.’”