There will be British podium hopes this weekend when the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championships are held, 938 days since the last IRONMAN world champions were crowned over the full distance.
October 2019 was the last time the IRONMAN World Championships were hosted because of the pandemic and, although the delayed 2021 event will be held outside of Hawaii for the first time, the reward will be the same for the British triathletes looking to become world champion in St. George, Utah, USA on Saturday (7 May).
Over 100 British triathletes – pro and age group – will be competing in St. George including seven athletes in the pro races where the IRONMAN world champions will be crowned over the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run distance.
Five British women are on the start list for the women’s pro race including Katrina Matthews, who finished fourth at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship last September. Matthews started 2022 off with a win at IRONMAN 70.3 Lanzarote, where she beat defending IRONMAN world champion Anne Haug of Germany by more than four minutes.
Ruth Astle is a double IRONMAN champion and will make her World Championships debut in St. George over the full distance, as will Fenella Langridge who won at Challenge Salou last month.
Nikki Bartlett, who was a guide at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, has multiple podiums to her name over both the 70.3 and full distance, while Laura Siddall will also line-up on the World Championships start line looking to add to her medal haul.
In the men’s event, double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee has won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles over the standard distance and this weekend is going in pursuit of the IRONMAN world title.
He has already had success in St. George having won there over the 70.3 distance in 2017 which is a distance he’s also had medal success in on the world stage, claiming silver at both the 2018 and 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.
Brownlee has won events over the full distance, and, after an injury-disrupted 2021, he returned with a fourth-place finish on his return to action at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside last month.
David McNamee already has experience of making the podium over the full distance having finished third in Kona in both 2017 and 2018. The Norwegian pair of reigning Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt and double IRONMAN 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden are likely to provide strong international competition.
St. George is a new venue for the IRONMAN World Championships and will see the triathletes begin with a 2.4-mile (3.86km) around Sand Hollow Reservoir. Next is a 112-mile (180.2km) bike course that will lead athletes through desert landscapes with 2,248m of elevation gain and a climb through the Snow Canyon State Park.
The 26.2-mile (42.2km) run course will take athletes on two loops through St. George before the finish line.
The pro men will start first at 13:15 (BST), followed by the pro women five minutes later. The race will be broadcast live by IRONMAN via Facebook and YouTube.