70.3 Worlds Internationalizes

Beginning in 2014 the Ironman 70.3 will change location each year, rotating to venues around the globe. This brings this WC into conformity with most major mainstream sports, and grants fans and competitors living in other parts of the world a sense of investment in the 70.3 franchise.

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship was an instant hit when it first took place in Clearwater, Florida in 2006. But the course was criticized for its flatness, not allowing good cyclists to press their advantage in strong fields with high parity.

The race moved to the Lake Mead and Henderson areas outside of Las Vegas in 2011, and the course change was welcome to those wanting less drafting and a bumpier bike course profile. Indeed, the course seems to help those who are bike-adept, judging by last year’s podium toppers Sebastian Kienle and Leanda Cave.

The race has become very international at its pointy end, with the top-5 male and female over the past 2 years hailing from 8 different countries. The move to internationalize the world championship will broaden the Ironman brand and, perhaps, help open doors for the brand in areas — such as Eastern Europe — that have traditionally not been a market for World Triathlon Corporation.

World championship sites after the 2013 race in metro Las Vegas, to be held on the 8th of September, will be held on existing courses of current 70.3 races, and will not take place on first-time venues, says WTC’s CEO Andrew Messick.

The existing race in the Vegas area will remain. It was the site of the Silverman Triathlon prior to morphing into the 70.3 worlds, and it will return to Silverman — sort of. The race will now be son-of-Silverman, to be called Ironman 70.3 Silverman.

If this move is a positive step toward internationalizing and mainstreaming the Ironman brand, why would it not also be good for the Ironman World Championship in Kona? WTC would have a harder time pulling the trigger on a movable world championship at the Ironman distance, because of the iconic nature of its granddaddy race. While the 70.3 championship never had a thematic and historic tie to the course, the weather, the elements, the full Ironman race does. There are no plans to change Kona’s perennial world championship status.