The Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii is the holy grail for triathletes looking to reach professional status. Just like the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify in a qualifying race to gain entry to the Ironman Champsionships.
Athletes may gain entry into the Ford Ironman World Championship by earning a qualifying slot at one of the 29 worldwide qualifying events - open to citizens of all countries - held throughout the year. Qualifier races vary in length, ranging from 70.3-distance (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) to full Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). Each event awards Ironman slots to its top age-group finishers, with some races also awarding professional qualifying slots. Athletes may also gain entry by being selected through the Ironman Lottery. You can generally find a list of races at Ironman.com, as well as a list of current qualifiers.If you qualified last year and wonder if you are automatically quailfied for the current year, unfortunately only the age group winners and top ten professional athletes are invited to return. Everyone has has to re-qualify.
If you do not qualify outright, the Ironman does hold a lottery where you may have a chance to participate, however typically slots unknown until all qualifiers are completed. If your country does not have any qualifying races, the only alternative is to race in another country or apply in the lottery. Unfortunately, your chances in the lottery are extremely slim.
Before the race, you must declare your status, and race in that division. Professionals must hold a valid professional/elite card or a letter from their country's federation. This must be submitted with the application. If you qualified as an age grouper and want to race as a pro, you must re-qualify as a professional earning a pro slot. If you race as a professional athlete during the calendar year, you may not race as an age grouper in IRONMAN for that year and the following year.
There are cutoff times that can disqualify you. Currently, the swim is 2.4 miles and the cutoff is 2 hrs. and 20 min., the bike is 112 miles and the cutoff time is 10 hrs and 30 min from the beginning of the race and the run is a full marathon which is 26.2 miles and the cutoff time is 17 hours from the beginning of the race.
Typically, a triathlete trains for 20-22 hours per week to prepare for an Ironman, although you might need more time if you are new to triathlons or Ironman distances. A good rule of thumb when training for each event is:
Miles per week swimming: 7 (11.3 km)
Miles per week biking: 232 (373.3 km)
Miles per week running: 48 (77.2 km)
Lastly, here are the current and future dates of the Ironman World Championship:
To prepare for an Ironman or any other Triathlon distance, visit the Triathlon Training Guide. If swimming is your weak event, be sure to read about the Tri Swim Coach Program.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
How to qualify for the Ironman Championships
By Nathan Hangen