The French city of Nice will host the men’s edition of the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship on Sunday September 10 this year – and rotate with Kona between now and 2026.
It was announced late in 2022 that long-distance triathlon’s biggest event will have separate locations in future editions as IRONMAN continues its commitment to dedicated race days for men and women.
However it became clear that the impact of two days of racing at Kona did not work for the local community moving forward, leaving IRONMAN – wanting equal attention paid to both races – having to find a solution.
They quickly revealed the 2023 women’s IRONMAN World Championship would take place on Saturday October 14 at its spiritual home on the Big Island of Hawaii – and now they have confirmed the strong rumours that Nice, the birthplace of long-distance triathlon in Europe, will host the men’s equivalent in September.
The men’s and women’s races will then alternate between those two iconic locations through to at least 2026, a four-year run which immediately introduces a period of stability.
That follows a spell which saw the 2020 IRONMAN World Championships cancelled because of the global COVID pandemic and the 2021 version rescheduled and relocated to St George in May 2022 before the two-day format was introduced at Kona in 2022.
The dates have also been announced for 2024 – the men racing in Kona on October 26 (two weeks later than the traditional second Saturday of the month), while the women take the spotlight in Nice on September 22.
“In 2022, we saw the power of a two-day IRONMAN World Championship, one with dedicated race days for professional women and professional men,” said Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group.
“We believe in this concept not only to showcase the depth of both the women’s and men’s fields but also to invest further into the growth of the sport of triathlon. Nice, France, as the European birthplace of long-course triathlon is the right place to showcase this evolution.”
We are grateful to Mayor Estrosi and the City of Nice, who share our vision of creating a world-class championship race for the men in 2023, and then the women in 2024.
Nice part of triathlon folklore
France’s fifth-largest city was always seen as the front runner, having both a strong triathlon and sporting history.
It first hosted the ‘Triathlon International de Nice’ in 1982 – ironically with the stated aim of rivalling Kona – and through various iterations became IRONMAN France in 2005, an event that has been successfully run since then by renowned French triathlete Yves Cordier, along with IRONMAN 70.3 Nice France.
Cordier, who will now also head up the IRONMAN World Championship’s bow on the Cote d’Azur, featured in several legendary battles on the French Riviera with six-time Kona king Mark Allen – who also earned an incredible 10 wins in Nice.
And Allen is not the only one of triathlon’s elite to have had important moments in Nice while also building their career accolades in Kona.
Paula Newby-Fraser, who won the IRONMAN World Championship a remarkable eight times, could just as easily be known as the Queen of Nice with four victories at the Triathlon International de Nice, the most of any female athlete.
Nice also hosted the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in 2019 and in a wider sporting context has staged matches in the men’s finals of EURO 2016 and then the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
Sporting spotlight in 2023 and 2024
This year, in addition to the IMWC, Nice will be host to four games of the men’s 2023 Rugby World Cup and was also most recently named as the final stage for the Tour de France in 2024, the first time that’s not been in Paris (who will be hosting the Olympics a few days later).
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has played an instrumental role in working with IRONMAN to have Nice as co-host of the IRONMAN World Championship with Kailua-Kona and in addition to the above events his city will also welcome the 2023 Hopman Cup in tennis and the 2024 Olympic football events.
And he underlined his and the city’s longstanding links with triathlon when he said: “Nice has established itself as a true land of sports and has become a reference point recognised throughout the world.
“I was deputy sports director of the city of Nice when we organised the first editions of the Triathlon International de Nice, where there were great stars like Mark Allen, Yves Cordier, and Paula Newby-Fraser and naturally I saw Nice’s capacity to be a world-class event in this discipline.
“But I didn’t imagine that one day we could have such recognition. It was an honour to organise an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in 2019 and it showed IRONMAN, Nice’s potential to organise an event like this.”
Holding the IRONMAN World Championship away from Kona introduces a completely new dynamic in terms of the test the athletes will face, with the heat and especially the humidity likely to be far less of a factor – but the hilly nature of the bike course an additional challenge.
And on a practical note, the qualifying cycle and slot allocations have been adjusted to compensate for the change in time of year for the men’s edition of the IRONMAN World Championship.
Updated information can be found here while all athletes who have previously qualified and registered will be contacted directly with additional information.