IRONMAN has recognised the historic role of New Zealand in the sport by offering this year’s event more qualifying spots for the World Championships.
Saturday’s Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand in Taupo is the 29th anniversary of the race which was the first International IRONMAN race selected by the owners of the Hawaii Ironman to test the global market for the sport back in 1985.
In the ensuring 29 years the sport has grown to the stage where there are 30 full IRONMAN and 60 IRONMAN 70.3 events around the globe, attracting more than 150,000 participants each year. They qualify and culminate in the IRONMAN World Championships each October in Hawaii and the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3 each September.
IRONMAN organisers have confirmed 50 qualifying places for this weekend’s race for age group participants for Hawaii, an additional 10 spots.
“This is a special recognition of our status as the original International Ironman event,” said IRONMAN New Zealand National Manager, Janette Blyth.
“Hawaii remains the Holy Grail of the sport and a significant number of the 1430 competitors in Saturday’s race have qualification for the world championships as a goal. So to increase the number of slots by 25 per cent is significant and exciting for those looking to test themselves against the best in the world in Hawaii.”
IRONMAN has already confirmed that next year’s 30 anniversary race in New Zealand will be increased to 60 qualifying places in recognition of the anniversary. Ten of these slots are set aside for a ‘Loyalty Lottery’ from everyone who has completed IRONMAN New Zealand since its inception. Competitors are given one entry into the draw for every finish in New Zealand since 1985.
There are 1430 participants from 51 nations competing in Taupo on Saturday with the professionals starting at 6.45, 15 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, with the winner expected by 3.15pm and the final cut-off at midnight.