Ironman will return to a slot-based qualifying system for professionals for the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2019.
December 20, 2017 | NEWS|
Well we didn't see this coming, but it looks like it'll be one way to work around the issues Ironman has been facing over the last few years with regards to the number of pro men and women competing in Kona.
As of 2019 there will no longer be a Kona Points Ranking system (or 70.3 Points Ranking system) to qualify professional athletes for either of the Ironman world championship events. Pros will qualify for the two world championships based on slots allocated at various races around the world.
"The change aligns with the global age-group system with qualifying slots being allocated to Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events on the global pro calendar for the respective world championship races," according to Ironman.
Just like the age group system, there will be equal "base slot allocations" for both men and women, "with additional slots being allocated and distributed to events based on the number of professional starters."
Based on the traditional numbers we see in the pro ranks at various races, this will mean that there will be more male pro qualifiers than female. Last year in Kona there were 697 women and 1,761 men on the start line total (including 39 pro women and 57 pro men). Ironman says that there will be approximately 100 pro slots allocated for Kona, which is pretty close to what we see on the Big Island now. The new two-day format for the 70.3 worlds allows for more pros to be out on the course, which "could allow for up to 170 professional athletes split between the days."
In a return to the "good ol' days" the Ironman 70.3 world champ will get a Kona invite (remember Samantha McGlone, Mirinda Carfrae or Craig Alexander's intro to the Ironman World Championship, anyone?). There will also continue to be a five year world champion exemption, but now podium finishers will receive a one-year exemption.
So after a multi-year experiment with the pro ranking system, it looks like we're back to a system where an Ironman win gets you a spot in Kona.
“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,” says Andrew Messick, Ironman CEO. “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 qualifying system will start on September 9, 2018 for Kona at Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Wales, while the new qualifying system for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice will begin on July 8, 2018 at Ironman 70.3 Jonkoping and Ironman 70.3 Ecuador.