Visser disqualified at Ironman Maastricht Limburg

Els Visser has received notice from Ironman that she has been disqualified for missing one of the swim buoys and going off course at Ironman Maastricht Limburg.

| September 22, 2018 | NEWS

Els Visser at the awards ceremony of Challenge Almere, where she finished second.

Els Visser at the awards ceremony of Challenge Almere, where she finished second.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Thanks to for giving us a heads up about this story.

Els Visser posted the following statement on her Facebook page earlier today:

Yesterday evening I received notice of my disqualification from Ironman Maastricht.
As you can imagine this news affected me emotionally, and I would like to give a short statement to you about this situation.

I am aware that I missed the buoy during the race. However we as athletes have to obey the instructions on course and that’s what I did. The buoy I missed was a result of being directed this way by one of the people from the organization. This makes the situation feel very unfair to me.

Together with my team we are debating internally how to proceed. Will keep you posted.

Thank you for all your support and kind messages.


With Visser's disqualification from the race that took place on August 5, the victory goes to countrywoman Yvonne Van Vlerken. Visser was swimming with New Zealand's Sonia Bracegirdle (who finished third in the race) when the two missed the buoy. According to a story posted on this morning, Bracegirdle also received an e-mail from Ironman. (The official results on the site still show Visser as first and Bracegirdle as third - see link below.)

"In an e-mail to both Visser and Bracegirdle, they were informed that they did not comply with 'rule 2.1,' following the official race course," Tim Moria wrote on the site. "On this basis, there is a direct disqualification for both Visser and Bracegirdle. To Visser it means that she loses both her victory and Dutch title. Those will now move on to Yvonne van Vlerken. She initially claimed second place in the race. The silver will now go to Katja Konschak (GER), the bronze to Angela Naeth (CAN)."

For Naeth this is big news because moving to third place will give her enough points to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She posted the following on her Instagram account earlier today.

I am extremely excited to pass along some great news! After several weeks of waiting in regards to the correction of race results from Ironman Maastricht, I am happy to announce that I have officially qualified for the IRONMAN World Championships, and will be racing on the Big Island on October 13th! // After a year of battling Lyme (and continuing), and traveling the world, twice over, to race Ironman after Ironman, the hard work, and determination (and patience!), paid off.  I am excited to be representing all of my sponsors and supporters, and will most definitely have a smile on my face, the entire time. // After many months of antibiotic treatment, which continues, it comes with great celebration to be able to race in Hawaii, while continuing to work towards 100% health.  I am so happy to be able to share my story, raise awareness for Lyme, and women in sport through @iracelikeagirl!
Mahalo! :-)


Despite that fact that there was video evidence that Visser and Bracegirdle had missed the buoy, because no officials had seen the incident, there was no call made on race day. Three athletes protested the result, according to That protest was originally sent to the Netherlands' triathlon federation, the Nederlandse Triathlon Bond (NTB), which passed it on to the International Triathlon Union (ITU), but neither would rule on the incident. That left the final decision to Ironman.

Rembert Groenman, the national director of the NTB, told that: "This is very sad news. We think that this story only knows losers. First of all: this is terrible for Els and of course also for Sonia. We are very sorry about this."

"I do not have the rules immediately available, but in my opinion Visser can appeal against this decision," Groenman continued. "It's only up to Visser and her team - no matter how sorry  I feel - whether they will actually do that. We have taken our own path in this. We could not handle this case and forwarded it to the ITU. When the ITU could not do anything with it either, Ironman did so itself."