This is a preview of the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship at St George – you can get full race reports and results on how Kristian Blummenfelt ruled in the men’s race and Daniela Ryf made a stunning return to top form in the women’s race.
If it’s true the best things in life are worth waiting for, then the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in St George on May 7 (2022) should be an absolute beauty despite the high-profile withdrawals of stars including Jan Frodeno, Gustav Iden, Alistair Brownlee, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Laura Philipp.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hawaii has so far made it impossible for the sport to return to its spiritual home, leaving IRONMAN to make the decision late last year that it would move the 2021 event to Utah.
St George proved last September with the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship that it can stage a major event without issues, ticking the biggest box of all in this world right now. It also has a course worthy of hosting the marquee event.
Date, start times & live stream
The big race takes place on Saturday May 7, 2022 in St George, Utah.
The Pro Men will start first at 0615 local time. That’s 1315 UK time, 1415 CET and 0815 Eastern Time.
The Pro Women are set to follow five minutes later, followed by the Physically Challenged / Handcycle athletes at 0625 and then a 20-minute gap until the Age Group waves start from 0645.
The race will be broadcast live by IRONMAN via Facebook Watch and YouTube, and you can watch the race right here by clicking on the embed right below here. Enjoy!
As we said, St George provides a worthy setting to stand in for the unique test that is Kona in Hawaii.
While the dry heat of Utah in early May will not test athletes in the same way the brutal conditions of Kona do, the course will have other traps in store.
The full-distance course in St George is one of the toughest in world triathlon in terms of the distance athletes will climb – particularly during what should be a brutal bike leg.
The rugged terrain also provides what could be the key point in the race late in the bike when the athletes take on the famed Snow Canyon.
After that brutal bike the run will be fascinating – which athletes can hold their form on an undulating track which has so many uphill and downhill sections?
The intriguing thing about this World Championship is that there is no course form, no guide to what athletes have done here over this distance in the past. Literally all new.
An intoxicating mix here, although the ‘Big Three‘ narrative is now no longer in play after Frodeno announced on April 14 that he would not be racing due to a small partial tear in his Achilles. We hope now he will be able to big again for the crown in Kona in October.
The absence of Frodeno meant the Norwegian pair of Iden and Kristian Blummenfelt were the new favourites, but things changed again on the eve of the race when Iden was ruled out as he struggled to recover from a recent illness – first reported by TRI247.
The Norwegians have only done one IRONMAN race each so far, but the impression they created was otherworldly. Iden was terrific in winning in Florida last November, before Blummenfelt set the fastest time ever for the distance in Cozumel a couple of weeks later.
Within two hours of Iden’s withdrawal on the eve of the race, Brownlee followed him in adding to the list of absentees, revealing on Instagram that he felt “rough” due to an illness in his system, and would not be starting.
Another man who will be missing on Saturday is two-time Kona king Patrick Lange, who has undergone shoulder surgery after sustaining an injury in a recent bike crash. Devastating for the German star, who had been in the shape of his life.
One man who at this stage is still set to race is Canadian star Lionel Sanders, who produced a terrific run to claim second on the line at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside. Meanwhile his big rival – American Sam Long – has already advertised his 2022 form by impressively winning CLASH Miami and Challenge Puerto Varas.
The women’s race is without the likely pre-event favourite after British star and reigning 70.3 World Champion Lucy Charles-Barclay was ruled out at the end of March by a broken hip. She had been hugely impressive in that 70.3 success – again in St George – last September.
Germany’s Laura Philipp had taken over as the PTO’s #1 ranked female athlete but she was ruled out at the start of race week by Covid.
Until the second half of 2021 it appeared four-time Champion Daniela Ryf was invincible, but health problems saw her then struggle significantly before taking a break at the back end of the year. She finished second on her seasonal debut in Dubai, but then trailed in a disappointing 10th at Oceanside before being DQ for speeding.
The reigning champion of course is Anne Haug – who has held the title for more than two years after that unforgettable run to glory in Hawaii in 2019. She showed at Challenge Roth last year with a blistering performance that nobody should be ruling out a repeat.
Britain has another podium contender meanwhile in the shape of Kat Matthews, a real force over the full distance and who impressed in finishing fourth at the 70.3 World Championship last September. She was brilliant in her first race of 2022, beating Haug at IRONMAN 70.3 Lanzarote.
Again the list of top names is endless, but the home team will likely be spearheaded by Skye Moench while Britain’s two-time IM winner from 2021 Ruth Astle adds yet more spice.
Qualifiers for St George
There is plenty to race for in Utah as well as the glory, with a total prize purse of $750,000 on offer. The male and female race winners will earn $125,000 each, with the overall prize pot paying down to 15th position, allocated as follows:
1st – $125,000
2nd – $65,000
3rd – $45,000
4th – $25,000
5th – $20,000
6th – $18,000
7th – $15,000
8th – $13,000
9th – $12,000
10th – $11,000
11th – $8,000
12th – $6,000
13th – $5,000
14th – $4,000
15th – $3,000
There is one further note of significance. The unusual situation of two IRONMAN World Championship races in one calendar year, and limited qualification opportunities for October’s return to Kona, means that there are a total of 16 (8 MPRO / 8 WPRO) Kona slots also available for October 2022.
As we’ve already written at length, this is a great addition given the circumstances and in our opinion will only add to the level of competition in Utah. Don’t miss it!