Ironman Makes Big Changes to 2019 Pro Qualifications

KAILUA KONA, HI – OCTOBER 14: An aeriel view of the transition area during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)


Ironman is returning from a points-based system to a slot qualifying system for professional triathletes, which begins in the 2019 qualifying year. For Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, qualifying begins on 9th September 2018. For the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France, it begins on 8th July 2018. The changes are designed to align the process with the global age-group system.

The good news is that many women’s rights advocates are very pleased with the changes. They say that Ironman made great efforts to include gender equality in its agenda. However, some sceptics estimate that there still will be far fewer pro women in Kona, despite more parity in the qualification process.

There is more good news that is not being questioned. That is a more lenient policy for triathletes who need to take a little time off for pregnancy, injuries, and other matters.

What Are the New Qualification Policies?

The 70.3 Pro Ranking and the Kona Points Ranking will not be used.

Regional Championships will offer the most professional slots. Ironman CEO Andrew Messick recently coined a new slogan for this policy: If you win, you are in. He said it “changes the focus squarely back to recognizing great performances on race day.” No math skills required.

Ironman World Championship slots will remain at approximately 100.

Ironman 70.3 World Championship slots could be as high as 170, split between the event’s two days.

Every qualifying race will award at least one slot for each gender, and the number of slots will be equal. Additional slots will be awarded to events based on the number of professional starters at those events.

Triathletes can start later in the season without having to worry accumulating points throughout the year. This new system is more forgiving for maternity breaks, injuries, and other circumstances, both expected and unexpected.

The five-year World Champion exemption will remain. According to Ironman, there is an additional “one-year exemption for Ironman World Championship podium finishers” and a “reciprocal exemption invitation to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion.” All exemptions remain subject to completion of a validation race and remain additional to the guaranteed allocations to qualifying events.

Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Wales will both award qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Ironman 70.3 Jonkoping and Ironman 70.3 Ecuador will both award qualifying slots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France.

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