Just when you think you're tough enough


Ironman: 2019 to Bring Changes to Pro Qualification

Next year will see slot-based allocation return to pro qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.

Beginning with the 2019 qualifying year for both the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, the Kona Points Ranking and 70.3 Pro Ranking will no longer be used as the qualifying systems for professional triathletes. The current points-based system will return to a slot qualifying system, mirroring the global age-group system. Qualifying slots will be allocated to IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events on the global pro calendar for the respective world championship races.

The guaranteed base slot allocations will be equal for both male and female professional athletes, with additional slots being allocated and distributed to events based on the number of professional starters. The Regional Championship events will be assigned the greatest number of qualifying slots of any event on the pro circuit. Each qualifying IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 event will have at a minimum one men’s and one women’s professional slot.

A general view of the Male Age Group Swim Start during the 2017 IRONMAN World Championships on October 12, 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Donald Miralle for IRONMAN)

For the global 2019 IRONMAN professional calendar, the number of IRONMAN World Championship slots is expected to be approximately 100, similar to the current total allocation. Based upon the global 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 professional calendar, the current two-day format of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship could allow for up to 170 professional athletes split between the days.

The five-year qualifying exemption for past world champions will remain in effect, with the addition of a one-year exemption for podium finishers and a reciprocal exemption invitation to the IRONMAN 70.3 world champion. All exemptions remain subject to completion of a validation race and remain additional to the guaranteed allocations to qualifying events.

“Finishing atop the podium at an IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 event is a great accomplishment and the reward for that should be a place at the starting line at the World Championship events,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer for IRONMAN. “The return to the slot system celebrates our champions and IRONMAN host communities around the world and changes the focus squarely back to recognizing great performances on race day. If you win you are in, and athletes will no longer need to calculate how to plan their race schedule to qualify.”

The new system “rewards athletic performance rather than volume of racing for points, particularly in light of the  growth of both elite athlete population and events globally over the past 3 to 4 years,” says Paula Newby-Fraser, Director of Pro Relations for IRONMAN. She adds that it also provides the opportunity for new talent, as well as rewarding current performing athletes.

The regional and seasonal nature of the slot allocations encourages athletes to have an off-season. It preserves the longevity of an athlete’s career. It better addresses life circumstances (injury, pregnancies, etc). Athletes can start racing later in the season and with a win, or great performance, can qualify versus trying to accumulate the necessary points over a 12-month period.

Qualifying for the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i will begin on September 9, 2018 with slots being awarded at IRONMAN Wisconsin and IRONMAN Wales.

Qualifying for the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France will begin on July 8, 2018 with slots being awarded at IRONMAN 70.3 Jönköping and IRONMAN 70.3 Ecuador.

The KPR and 70.3PR Pro qualifying systems remain in effect with respect to qualifying for the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship and 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.