Historic All-Women's Ironman Championship Kicks Off in Kailua-Kona

Over 2,000 female athletes from 73 nations unite in Hawai`i for the first-ever standalone Women's Ironman World Championship race on 14 October, 2023.

Historic All-Women's Ironman Championship Kicks Off in Kailua-Kona

Over 2,000 female triathletes from 73 nations and regions, all distinguished by their abilities and achievements, will take part in the 2023 Ironman World Championship. This follows the men's race on September 10 in Nice, France.

Ironman has been shaped by remarkable women since its inception in 1978. Pioneers like Judy Collins, Valerie Silk, and, celebrating her 20th year leading the event, Senior Vice President Diana Bertsch, have all played vital roles in its evolution. Bertsch commented, “This year’s championship will etch new stories of extraordinary female athletes into Ironman legacy. We are poised to give them a memorable experience.”

North America boasts the highest representation, with 53% of the participants, followed by Europe (28%), Oceania (9%), Latin America (5%), Asia (4%), and both Africa and the Middle East at 1%. The USA leads with 976 athletes, trailed by Canada, Germany, Australia, and the UK. Other countries, including Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, and Singapore, have also sent contenders to compete in Kona.

The athletes’ stories are as diverse as their origins. Annie Brooks (GBR) transformed the adversity of an epilepsy diagnosis into an inspiring journey towards Kona, sharing her experiences and insights online. “Kona’s IRONMAN is iconic. It's an honor to be here, proving that challenges like epilepsy can be overcome,” said Brooks.

The championship sees participants from all backgrounds, including Adrienne Bunn, an 18-year-old aspiring to be the first known female athlete with autism to finish the Ironman World Championship, and two-time Paralympian, Kellie Dewveall. The list also features Sara Whittingham, a retired Air Force Lt. Col. diagnosed with Parkinson’s, who emphasizes the therapeutic importance of exercise for the condition.

Another participant, Lisa Kuntze, has overcome homelessness, single motherhood, and a major health setback, while Maggie Swanson, after being hit by a bus, recuperated and raised over $340,000 for various charities.

Fans and enthusiasts can listen to these and more uplifting narratives at the 2023 Ironman World Championship Ambassador Athlete Panel on Thursday, October 12 at 2:00 p.m. at the Hale Halawai Park.

Notable Facts for the 2023 Women’s VinFast IRONMAN World Championship

  • Oldest participant: Cullen Goodyear (CAN) at 75 years.
  • Youngest participant: Adrienne Bunn (USA) at 18 years.
  • Average participant age: 44.
  • Eight athletes will celebrate their birthdays on race day.
  • Representatives from 49 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C. are participating, led by California.
  • 1,169 of the participants are Ironman All World Athlete.
  • 48 qualifying races took place for this championship, including new additions: the 2022 Ironman California and the 2022 Ironman Israel.
  • Over 5,000 volunteers will be supporting the event.

Kailua-Kona is ready to host a landmark event in the world of triathlon, shining a spotlight on exceptional female athletes and their remarkable stories.