IRONMAN Announces Major Rules Revamp for 2023

IRONMAN today announced a new rules package governing all global IRONMAN series events. Most notable include the creation of a new open category, a new intellectual disability category, and alignment with the World Triathlon standard on how transgender women may be eligible to compete in the women's category.

In a statement, IRONMAN noted that, "In addition to federation alignment, athlete experience enhancement and feedback was, and continues to be, an extremely important consideration when determining the evolution of IRONMAN rules, policies, and resources. The expanded athlete divisions for 2023 build on recent policies and programs instilled by IRONMAN in years past, including the global pregnancy policy for IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events[.]"

New Categories

The PC Open/Exhibition category has now been expanded to include intellectual disability. This will now become the Physically Challenged / Intellectual Disability (PC/ID) Open division. The newly modified exhibition division will now encompass the former PC Open division, Special Teams, and ID Open athletes. Athletes who compete in this division are eligible for drawing opportunities to compete in respective IRONMAN World Championship events.

"Inclusion in IRONMAN changed my life because it helped me get my dreams by giving me a big crazy goal,” said Chris Nikic, the first person with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN. “Now I also have a purpose to help others enjoy this amazing opportunity. A huge thanks to IRONMAN for being first and inspiring all the major running races around the world to follow."

In addition to this division, IRONMAN has also announced the creation of the Open Division. The non-competitive division allows for any able-bodied athlete to race without being attached to a gender or age-division. Athletes who choose to compete in this division are not eligible for World Championship slots but are otherwise governed by the Competition Rules.

Transgender Women Policy Changes

In a change from prior policy, IRONMAN will now align with World Triathlon's ruleset regarding eligibility for transgender women to compete in the women's divisions.

Transgender women, in order to be allowed to compete in the women's division, must not have competed as a male in any triathlon, swimming, biking, athletics, or cross-country skiing event for a period of four years prior to entering a women's field. Additionally, transgender women must maintain less than a 2.5 nMol/L testosterone level for two sequential years prior to receiving approval to compete.

The change comes as transgender inclusion policies are divergent across many national federations. USA Triathlon, for instance, does not require a transitory period for transgender women. Meanwhile, Great Britain has moved to only allow female-at-birth athletes to compete in triathlon.

The rules regarding transgender men competing in the men's category remain the same.

Super Shoe Stack Limited

IRONMAN also announced the widely speculated alignment with World Triathlon on the limitation of stack height for running shoes. Shoe stack height now follows the World Athletics code, banning shoes with a stack height over 40 millimeters. Any participant wearing a shoe that violates this rule is now subject to disqualification. An approved list of shoes can be found here.

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images for IRONMAN