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This October, the Ironman World Championship will return to the Big Island (knock on wood!) for the first time since 2019 and in a new format: a two-day race with the pro women on Thursday and the pro men on Saturday.
When the new format was announced in September one of the major questions was which age groups would be competing on Thursday and which would be on Saturday. We now have an answer. Released today, the men’s and women’s starts show the women’s age groups all competing on Thursday after the pro women, with a few of the men’s age groups (50-54, 60-64, 65+, and 25-29) starting behind the women. See the full start schedule below.
Ironman first utilized age-group waves in the 2019 world championship race, getting rid of the mass women’s and men’s starts. The race had previously, in 2016, moved from the mass age-group melee to separate men’s and women’s starts for the amateur athletes (who began their days after the pros).
At the time, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick said the move was a result of the density of high-caliber athletes exiting the water together in Hawaii, and an attempt to reduce course congestion and create a fairer race by spacing out waves based on the number and relative speed of the athletes.
Why then for 2022 are some men on one day and some on another?
It’s due to overall field size. Although there will be an equal number of pro men and women this year, age-group women still make up only about 26-28% of the slots awarded for Kona (per the most recent statistics). In order to even out the days to roughly the same number of total athletes, race organizers had to add men’s waves to the Thursday. Each day will now have about 2,500 athletes competing.
For comparison, the 2019 Ironman World Championship race had just under 2,400 starters total and the largest age groups were the M40-44 and M45-49.
The 2022 October races will include age-group athletes who have qualified for the previous two years and rolled their spots to this fall after those events were canceled, as well as athletes who qualify through the end of July.
2022 Ironman World Championship Wave Start Times
|Thursday, Oct. 6|
|PRO Women||6:25 am|
|Saturday, Oct. 8|
|PRO Men||6:25 am|