Approximately 2,500 of the world’s top triathletes are registered to compete in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Saturday, October 12 at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship.
IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Group company, will celebrate its `Ohana – a Hawaiian word that represents a specially bonded extended family – during the 2019 event as it hosts athletes from 75 countries, regions and territories around the world.
Among the many athletes from around the world, Europe leads the way with 43% of the athletes registered to race in the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship. Following Europe, North America accounts for 31%, while Oceania accounts for 10% of the field. Latin America is next, 7%, followed by Asia, 6%, Africa, 2%, and Middle East, 1%.
Athletes range in age from 18 to 86 years old and have earned their championship opportunity by qualifying at one of more than 40 IRONMAN events worldwide.
“We are incredibly proud of the highly competitive nature of this year’s athlete field, as we will see nearly 2,500 competitors from around the globe toe the starting line on Saturday,” said Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer of The IRONMAN Group.
“We relish the opportunity to bring thousands of athletes, as well as their family and supporters, to the shores of Kailua-Kona and embrace them as part of our `ohana. It is an honour to be able to pay tribute to all of the members of our extended family as we celebrate our Hawaiian heritage.”
The United States of America is the most represented nation with 659 registered athletes, followed by Germany (279), Australia (193), United Kingdom (162) and Canada (99). Other athletes from countries as far as Bermuda, Iceland, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are traveling from around the globe for their shot at a title.
This year’s field boasts 11 returning age-group champions from the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship.
- On the women’s side, there is: Great Britain’s Ruth Purbrook (F30-34), Denmark’s Janette Dommer (F45-49), South Africa’s Michelle Enslin (F50-54), Finland’s Kaisa Jakobsen (F55-59), and America’s Julia Daggett (F60-64), Missy Lestrange (F65-69), and Bobbe Greenberg (F70-74).
- On the men’s side, returners include Germany’s Timo Schaffeld (M18-24), America’s Richard Sweet (M55-59) and Robert Plant (M75-79) and Japan’s Hiromu Inada (M85-89).
Other notable age-group athletes competing at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship include:
- Todd Crandell (Holland, Ohio, USA) – With a history of drug and alcohol addiction, Todd turned his life around and is now dedicated to helping others, with pasts similar to his, live a lifestyle of fitness and health. He is the founder of Racing for Recovery.
- Beth & Liza James (Created Butte, Colorado, USA) – Beth was a single mom-of-three when she and her children were in a severe car accident 14 years ago. Her youngest child, Liza, then 6, endured a blow to the head that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Today, Liza, 23, is non-verbal and unable to walk. Beth & Liza now travel the US, swimming, biking, running and even climbing mountains as they compete together as an inspirational mother-daughter duo.
- Rebecca Kimble (Tampa, Florida, USA) – Rebecca is a Women For Tri Specialist in the Athlete Development department for IRONMAN and works out of the company’s world headquarters in Tampa, Florida. She qualified for the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship at the 2018 Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga presented by McKee, A Family Bakery.
- Dai Masui (Hullet, Japan) – After waiting almost 20 years, with 26 IRONMAN triathlon finishes and 19 years attempting to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championship, Dai Masui finally earnt a spot among the best age-group athletes in the world to compete at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship.
- Michael McDonald (Brooklyn, New York, USA) – Michael is the founder of Mick Management (a Brooklyn-based music management company) and Chairman Emeritus of the non-profit, MusiCares, which he credits with saving his life. This year, McDonald turned 50 and marks his 20th year of sobriety. He is racing the IRONMAN World Championship on Saturday and fundraising US$250,000 for MusiCares and The IRONMAN Foundation.
- Roderick Sewell (New York, New York, USA) – Born with severe leg deformities that would prevent him from walking, Roderick’s mother made the difficult decision to have both of his legs amputated above the knee before his second birthday. Roderick then went from homelessness to accomplishing many firsts in his family: from the first to graduate college, to bringing home a Gold and a Bronze medal from the 2014 Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships, his accomplishments continue to grow with Roderick focusing on becoming an IRONMAN World Championship triathlon finisher.
- Wayne Skipworth (Pakipaki, New Zealand) – Wayne joined forces with his wife Heather and Missy and George Mackey to co-found IRONMĀORI, an initiative and club set up to tackle growing issues of ill health amongst the Maori population. Since its inception in 2009, it has grown to host events and community health projects including cycle rides, swimming and spin classes that have positively impacted many lives. Wayne has completed nine IRONMAN New Zealand triathlons and will reconnect the strong bond of Hawai`i and New Zealand culture through his racing.
- Lisa Tecklenburg (Madison, New Jersey, USA) – At age 38, an already successful business executive and accomplished IRONMAN triathlete, Lisa received a telephone call from her doctor stating that she had advanced stage breast cancer. She was told she’d never get to swim again, taking away her chances at continuing her run as an IRONMAN competitor. Lisa didn’t give up, despite the traumatic news she was given, and decided to do something about it, something to prove everyone wrong. It was in the spring of 2018, when she decided to circle April 27, 2019 on her calendar, an exact year from the day she would start chemotherapy and treatment. After months of surgeries and rounds of chemo, she was declared cancer-free. She got back to training and doing what she loved to do. April 27, 2019 came, and Lisa completed her fastest IRONMAN triathlon ever, qualified for Kona, and proved everyone wrong.
The IRONMAN World Championship is the culmination of approximately 95,000 athletes competing to qualify at more than 40 global IRONMAN events each year. Located on the west coast of the Island of Hawai`i, Kailua-Kona is the location for this iconic, single-day sporting event.
The 2019 field of triathletes will tackle the ROKA 2.4-mile ocean swim in Kailua Bay, followed by the Ventum 112-mile bike ride along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi, capped with a 26.2-mile HOKA ONE ONE run beginning on Ali’i Drive, where spectators pack the roads, up Palani Road to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, before making their way to the infamous Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai`i Authority. Athletes will complete their journey to the roar of thousands of spectators as they cross the historic Ali’i Drive finish line.
Additional historical facts and stats on the field competing in the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i:
- 73% of registered participants (1,783 athletes) are male
- 27% of registered participants (669 athletes) are female
- 44 is the average age of all registrants
- Hiromu Inada (JPN) is the oldest male participant at 86, while Valentin Carboniero (DEN) is the youngest at 20
- Dexter Yeats (USA) is the oldest female participant at 74, while Pauline Anouk Chloé Dauvergne (FRA) is the youngest at 18
- 6 athletes will be celebrating their birthdays on event weekend
- 46 US states are accounted for, with the greatest number hailing from California (92), Texas (61), Hawai`i (57), Colorado (52) and Florida (50).
- Approximately 95,000 registered athletes compete in IRONMAN races each year
- 1,512 athletes racing in this year’s Vega IRONMAN World Championship are IRONMAN All World Athletes – roughly 62% of the athletes racing represent the top 10% of age group athletes in the world
- 10 new IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 race locations were established in 2019: new IRONMAN triathlons in Ireland, Spain (Vitoria; new IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons in Thailand, India, Oman, Greece, Morocco, France (Les Sables), Italy (Cervia) and USA (Connecticut, Michigan, Virginia)
- More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the Vega IRONMAN World Championship a success
The 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship will enjoy 20 hours of comprehensive live race-day coverage globally via IRONMAN Now on Facebook Watch (www.facebook.com/IRONMANnow) and through regional television coverage, including NBC Sports in the United States.
This year’s Vega IRONMAN World Championship live coverage continues to give viewers a front row seat to everything from the early morning body marking to the final hour finish-line celebration. Last year’s coverage had nearly 20 million total views on Facebook Watch with the expectation for that to grow even further in 2019.