Ironman confirms plans for world champs up to 2026

There's no need for rumours now. Here's what Ironman plans to do with the men's and women's world championship over the next four years

An athlete cycling on the Ironman France Nice course that'll now be used for the world championship

Ironman has this afternoon confirmed its plans for the world champs for the next four years.

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The news comes after reports in November suggested that the men’s and women’s races were going to be separated not only by date, but also by location.

Ironman quickly responded to the rumours and revealed that, while the women’s race was going to take place on 14 October in Kona, the men’s race was going to unfold on another date in another location.

That was widely rumoured to be Nice, France, and that has now been confirmed in a statement from Ironman.

“Nice, France will become the location for the 2023 men’s edition as co-host of the VinFast Ironman World Championship,” the statement reads. 

“The race will take place on 10 September 2023, adding to the history of the European birthplace for long-distance triathlon.”

The idea is that male and female competitors will then swap locations for the following year, with men competing in Kona on 26 October 2024 and women competing in Nice on 22 September 2024.

What’s more, that rotation will continue for a further two years, with Nice and Kona booked in for world championships until 2026.

Why the change?

Male triathletes will have to wait an extra year before they can grace the volcanic landscapes of Kona again (Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman)

Speaking about the changes, CEO Andrew Messick said: “In 2022, we saw the power of a two-day Ironman World Championship, one with dedicated race days for professional women and professional men.

“We believe in this concept not only to showcase the depth of both the women’s and men’s fields but also to invest further into the growth of the sport of triathlon. Nice, France, as the European birthplace of long-course triathlon is the right place to showcase this evolution.”

That being said, if they could have kept both events in Kona, it’s likely they would have. However, as Hawaii county Mayor Mitch Roth said, that wasn’t really viable: “This year’s [2022’s] epic races were another example of world-class athletic competition held on the traditional Kona-Kohala world championship course. We learned, however, that more than one race day during ironman week is too many for the community to manage.”

Admittedly, the impact on the local community wasn’t the only issue that cropped up in 2022, with difficulties sourcing volunteers and sky-rocketing pricing for competitors both well documented. And thus, a new plan was needed…

A star-studded history

While many will undoubtedly be disappointed to miss the chance to race in Kona, the Nice course does offer up a fantastic backdrop (Credit: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for Ironman)

Nice has a pedigree in long-distance competition. The first event took place there in 1982 and between 1994-2002 it was host to the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship five times.

It became an Ironman-branded event in 2005 and now has both a full-distance and middle-distance race taking place there.

In fact, the city was also host to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2019, where Gustav Iden and Daniela Ryf both reigned supreme.

Many tri icons have graced the historic streets over the years, including Paula Newby-Fraser, who won the Triathlon International de Nice four times, Mark Allen, who won an incredible 10 times, Dave Scott, Simon Lessing, Natascha Badmann, Miranda Carfrae and current race director Yves Cordier.

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Top image credit: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for Ironman