Anything is Possible. That’s the idea that IRONMAN® is built on, and that’s the belief that drives thousands of men and women to complete the “ultimate endurance event” on every continent, every year. You’ve probably heard of IRONMAN®, and you probably know the basics: it involves a swim, a bike, and a run.
The race itself – and the community it’s created – is so much more than that. Read more to learn what sets IRONMAN® apart, how it started, and why we’re so excited to be the title sponsor of the 2019 Vega IRONMAN® World Championship.
It’s a triathlon, right?
Yes and no. Every IRONMAN® is a triathlon, but not every triathlon is an IRONMAN®. Triathlons are multisport events involving swimming, cycling, and running. Each individual event differs in length, start/end times, location, and just about everything else.
There are five categories of distance:
- Supersprint: known as a mini or entrance triathlon, a supersprint is the shortest option. Distances vary, but are usually close to a quarter-mile swim, 6.2-mile bike, and 1.5-mile run
- Sprint: Next up is a standard sprint option, featuring a quarter- to a half-mile run, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run
- Olympic: This distance is also known as an international, short-course, or standard option. It’s features a 0.93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run
- IRONMAN 70.3: Also known as a half IRONMAN, these races feature a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run
- IRONMAN®: A distance born in Hawaii, these races feature a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run
Comparing the distances makes it clear why IRONMAN® is seen as the pinnacle of triathlon competition. The top professional men finish these races in around 8.5 hours, and the top professional women in around 9, but amateurs can take up to the 17 hour cut-off time. It’s a life-changing challenge that comes with a sense of pride and accomplishment that few other goals do. That’s part of the reason that IRONMAN® has built the reputation and recognition it has now.
How did IRONMAN start?
The first triathlons began in California in the mid-1970s. They were largely informal, grown from a small community of endurance athletes.
One of the early participants was a U.S. navy officer named John Collins. He was on deployment in Hawaii when he heard a heated debate over whether swimmers or runners were the fitter athletes. He thought cyclist should be added to the mix and proposed that the debate be settled through a challenge combining all three.
At the time, Oahu, Hawaii hosted three endurance events. A marathon, an “around the island” bike ride, and a rough water swim event. Collins and his colleagues decided to combine the three into one race on one day. They would call the winner an “Iron Man.”
The first race, held in Oahu in 1978, saw twelve men complete all three legs. That was it: the seed of competition was planted. There was no stopping the rapid growth of the ultra-endurance event.
Where does Kona fit in?
The race moved from Oahu to Kona in 1981. That decision made the sheer physical challenge even more difficult. The cycling leg of the event wound through lava fields known for hot, harsh winds. The world championship now held there annually is still a grueling physical and mental test.
Officially sanctioned IRONMAN® events quickly cropped up around the country – and then around the world. There are now IRONMAN® races on every continent except Antarctica.
With the spread of triathlon – and IRONMAN® – it’s become clear that Kona remains unique. That’s why Kona is now the IRONMAN® World Championship, held every year in October.
Only 1700 people are allowed to enter. Some earn their spot through qualifying at another sanctioned event. Others are chosen through one of 500 lottery entries. Kona is what professional triathletes train for and dream about.
Proud to be Partners
We’re excited to partner with IRONMAN® as the Official Recovery Nutrition and Title Partner of the 2019 Vega IRONMAN® World Championship. Our co-founder, Brendan Brazier, started Vega during his career as a professional triathlete. As a company grounded in performance, our goal has always been to create effective plant-based nutrition that supports athletes in their search to unlock athletic excellence and write their own story of success.
It’s not about winning – it’s about the effort. We’re proud to help fuel this year’s IRONMAN® World Championship participants.
Starting very soon, we’re going to share the stories of six Vega athletes as they prepare for Kona. Check back here to follow their journey: learn how they fuel, train, and recover for an event like IRONMAN®.
In the meantime – if you’re interested in learning more about endurance training, we’ve got you covered. Check out this post on sport psychology to help endurance, or read about using competition to accelerate your performance.