The first major change in the swim start process for the IRONMAN World Championship for five years has been announced. Back in 2014, the Men’s and Women’s Age-Group starts were separated for the first time, with the Age-Group Men (6:50 am) starting ten minutes before the Age-Group Women at 07:00. They followed the Pro Men (06:25) and Pro Women (06:30).
Those start times have been tweaked by 5/10 minutes over the last few years, but the four starts has remained for the past five editions.
With increasing “density on the bike course” – i.e. drafting – becoming a continual source of frustration to many, including the organisers, a new approach will be introduced from 2019, which will see 11 different wave starts.
The Pro Men and Pro Women will still be separated by five minutes. The Pro Women will still be separated from the first Age-Group wave start by 25 minutes, at which point the remainder of the AG field (and Legacy slot athletes), will be set off in five minute intervals every five minutes from 6:55 through to 7:30.
Here’s the full announcement from IRONMAN.
IRONMAN ANNOUNCES NEW SWIM START PROTOCOL FOR 2019 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
IRONMAN to introduce new wave start aimed at reducing athlete density on bike course
IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Group company, announced today a new swim start protocol that will be implemented for the 2019 IRONMAN® World Championship. For the first time, the world championship event will utilize a wave start that separates the field into 11 groups. Like in previous years, the professional men’s field will start at 6:25 a.m., followed by the professional women’s field at 6:30 a.m. The PC/Open Exhibition and Handcycle divisions will then begin their day at 6:35 a.m. The first age group wave will start at 6:55 a.m. and continue every 5 minutes until all athletes are in the water.
“The swim start change is a reflection of, and reaction to, the extraordinary ability of our IRONMAN World Championship athletes,” said Andrew Messick, President & CEO of The IRONMAN Group. “While we appreciate the simplicity and iconic visual of the mass start, our primary responsibility is to create a fair race for all athletes. A single start each for age-group men and age-group women creates too much density on the bike course.”
The decision to move to an extended wave start was made following a comprehensive analysis of athlete data with the goal of reducing peak athlete density flowing onto the bike course. The new start times will not change the existing cut off standards for the IRONMAN World Championship – 2:20 for the swim and 10:30 for the bike. Athletes will also still have to reach the finish line within 17 hours to be official finishers of the race.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our events in an effort to create a fair, safe and world-class experience for our competitors who work so hard to get to this start line,” said Diana Bertsch, Senior Vice President of World Championship Events of The IRONMAN Group. “The IRONMAN World Championship is the pinnacle of endurance racing and our belief is that this change will allow for the highest competition to occur while enhancing the quality of the race.”
|Time of Day||Division|
|6:35||PC OPEN / HC|
The IRONMAN World Championship is the ultimate and most iconic one-day test of body, mind and spirit with over 90,000 athletes competing to qualify at more than 40 global IRONMAN events each year. Last year’s record-breaking race welcomed approximately 2,500 registered athletes from 82 countries, regions and territories, marking the largest international field in race history.
The 2019 IRONMAN World Championship will enjoy 20 hours of comprehensive live race-day coverage globally via IRONMAN NOW™ on Facebook Watch (www.facebookwatch.com/IRONMANnow) and through regional television coverage, including NBC Sports in the United States. Last year’s IRONMAN World Championship live coverage included everything from the early morning body marking to the final hour finish-line celebration and had nearly 20 million total views on Facebook Watch.