The oldest IRONMAN race on the European mainland is changing locations after this year’s 23rd edition in Zurich. IRONMAN has today unveiled Thun in the Canton of Berne as new host city for IRONMAN Switzerland from 2020 onwards.
The move will be made after this year’s 23rd edition of the race in Zurich, the country’s largest city.
“We are incredibly grateful for 23 years of IRONMAN racing in Zurich and would like to thank all of our supporters, friends, volunteers and sponsors,” said Nico Aeschimann, Regional Operations Manager for IRONMAN. “Our team is very much looking forward to bringing IRONMAN racing to Thun and we are working hard to make the transition a seamless one.
“However, the move will not be a goodbye. We are currently planning to create a multi-sports festival in Zurich starting in 2020.”
IRONMAN Switzerland is the second oldest IRONMAN in Europe after Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote, on the Spanish Canary Island, and the oldest on the European continent. Thun, a city of 45,000 inhabitants, and located approximately 130 kilometres to the southwest of Zurich, has expressed its interest to host an IRONMAN event for a number of years.
Surrounded by impressive mountain scenery – with the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains – and situated directly on Lake Thun and the Aare, the city of Thun offers numerous leisure and recreational opportunities. Restaurants and public squares by the water give the city a ‘very special Mediterranean ambience’.
From the grounds of the renovated lido, athletes will swim 3.8km (2.4 miles) in the pristine waters of Lake Thun in which the monuments of the Alps are reflected. The single-loop counter-clockwise swim course will lead back into the marina next to the lido where athletes will exit the lake and make their way into transition.
The two-loop 180km (112-mile) bike course takes the athletes towards Spiez where they turn away from the lake towards the Gürbe Valley. The course will lead towards Berne Airport on the right side of the valley and back on the opposite side where they make a loop in the Gantrisch area. From there it will be a smooth and slightly downhill ride back to the turnaround at transition zone for the second loop to complete the bike course.
After the change from bike to run, athletes will begin their 42.2km (26.2-mile) run along the lakeshore into the old town passing the Schadau Castle and crossing the river Aare. On the other shore the course leads out of town on the trails of the Thun City Run. After the turn around, athletes will turn back into a town full of spectators and towards the event venue where they start their next loop.
“IRONMAN fits perfectly into the wonderful region of Thun and reflects the strategic goals of the city. We are delighted to welcome and support this international sporting event,” said Raphael Lanz, Mayor of Thun.
The cityscape is not only characterized by water and mountain landscapes, but also by picturesque medieval buildings – above all Thun Castle, which towers over the rooftops of the city. IRONMAN adds that Thun combines lively and sociable city life with a unique and diverse natural environment.
“For the tourism region Thun-Thunersee, IRONMAN is a fantastic opportunity to present itself to the international public as an exciting area,” added Roman Gimmel, of the Municipal Council of Thun and President of Thun-Thunersee Tourism. “The participants and spectators from all over the world will be thrilled by the unique landscape with the lake as well as the mountains.”
Christoph Ammann, Cantonal Councillor and Director for Economic Affairs of the Canton of Berne, added, “Thanks to major sporting events such as IRONMAN, the Canton of Berne can strengthen its reputation as a tourist destination. In addition, the canton achieves a high national and international media impact by hosting such events.”
The 2020 IRONMAN Thun Switzerland will offer 40 age-group qualifying slots to the 2020 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i.
General registration for the 2020 IRONMAN Switzerland Thun will open after this year’s event.