Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
UPDATED: May 16, 2020
In the wake of race cancelations around the world and looking down the barrel of more uncertainty from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ironman officially made the announcement today: Both the Ironman World Championships and 70.3 World Championships won’t take place as planned this fall as they have been postponed to 2021.
“Based on these factors and circumstances beyond our control, coupled with a mission to give athletes and communities as much preparation time as possible, it is clear the world championship events cannot proceed as planned in October and November, respectively,” said the official press release.
Ironman CEO Andrew Messick had suggested previously the company could move the 2020 World Championships in Kona to the spring—and have two races next year for 2020 and 2021. That is now officially the plan: the 2020 Kona race will take place on Feb. 6, 2021 and the 2021 race will take place on Oct. 9, 2021.
If you’re familiar with triathlon history, this does have a precedent. In 1982, there were two Ironman World Championship races in February and October—though qualification was far smaller in those days.
The 70.3 World Championships, which were set to take place in New Zealand over two days on Nov. 28-29, 2020, have not yet been rescheduled. According to officials, a date is still being determined for early 2021. The 70.3 World Championships in 2021 are also scheduled to take place in St. George, Utah in the fall.
Additionally, Ironman announced there will be an adjustment to qualifying procedures for these races.
While there are still questions about how the postponement will affect qualification, the new schedule of qualifying races for the “2020” World Championship in February available on Ironman’s website appears to be updated with the most recently rescheduled races that would qualify you for the 2020 edition and how many slots are available at that race. For example, Ironman St. George, now rescheduled for September, has 75 slots available for the 2020 World Championship race in February. The last race on the 2020 qualification schedule, as of right now, is Ironman South Africa, rescheduled for Nov. 15.
The pro qualification races for both Kona and 70.3 Worlds are available here and vary slightly. For example, Ironman France is on the pro list of qualification races for 2020, but not the age-group list. These are all expected to be updated as things change.
Ironman has confirmed that athletes who already qualified and registered for this October 2020 will be able to defer to next October 2021. For the upcoming races on the qualification schedule, deferment options depend on what is specifically offered by that race, said Ironman officials.
It is also not clear, yet, what mitigation steps or changes will be taken at any of these postponed Ironman races. Messick also spoke before about how the company was adjusting their race plans to attempt to provide safe events.