Individual Sports

Four Finalists Named to Host New IRONMAN Event

19 Apr, 2019

IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Holdings company, announced today that Des Moines (Iowa), Fayetteville (Arkansas), Memphis (Tennessee) and Tulsa (Oklahoma) have been named finalists as potential hosts for a new IRONMAN® triathlon in 2020. The new event, expected to take place in late-Spring/early-Summer of 2020, will be the first brand-new full-distance IRONMAN triathlon introduced in the United States since 2014, expanding the series in the Central United States.

IRONMAN officials will be visiting these four cities during the next month as the selection process continues. The decision of determining the next host city for the new IRONMAN event in 2020 is expected by mid-June.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to bring an IRONMAN event to the Central United States,” said Shane Facteau, Chief Operating Officer for IRONMAN. “We have been looking into this particular area of the country for a while now and felt the time is right to add a brand-new full-distance IRONMAN triathlon to the U.S Series. First-class cities from around the region shared their interest with us and we are pleased to move forward with Des Moines, Fayetteville, Memphis, and Tulsa on the next stage of this process. All four of these cities present great opportunities to put on a world-class IRONMAN triathlon through their unique landscapes, culture, history and hospitality, that our athletes and their families and friends would surely appreciate.”

These four premier cities have a great deal to offer athletes and spectators alike in their bids to host an IRONMAN triathlon event in 2020. Here is a look at each host-city finalist in more detail.

  • Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa’s Capital City and its surrounding communities boast big amenities in a safe and accessible location. Greater Des Moines provides all the adventure and reward of a high-profile city without the inflated cost. Cultural events and festivals coupled with bike trails, parks, and lakes give residents and visitors of all ages plenty to do and see in Des Moines. Getting to the metro is easy from virtually any location worldwide as seven airlines service the Des Moines International Airport. Additionally, a quarter of the U.S. population is within a one-day drive. More than 13,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 locally-owned restaurants greet visitors as they arrive to enjoy the area. Des Moines was also recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top-five place to live in the United States.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring IRONMAN to Des Moines; our community and state will wholeheartedly embrace and support this event,” said Catch Des Moines President & CEO Greg Edwards. “As a finalist city and a metro that has the know-how and local support in hosting world-class events, we look forward to sharing our cityscape and countryside with IRONMAN athletes and fans. From our nationally-ranked Downtown Farmers’ Market to the hundreds of local restaurants for pre and post-race cuisine, Des Moines is a great location to not only spend race day, but a race weekend!”

  • Fayetteville, Arkansas – Surrounded by the scenic Ozark Mountains, the historic city of Fayetteville is the epicenter of rapidly growing Northwest Arkansas and has earned its reputation as an important hot spot for business, education and entertainment. Consistently named one of the nation’s best places to live, visit, or retire, Fayetteville offers the small-town feel that Arkansas is known for, yet has a wide range of exciting attractions. Fayetteville is the entertainment capital of Northwest Arkansas, with its thriving arts scene, legendary live music and nightlife, culinary treasures and endless events and attractions for all ages. Fayetteville is overflowing with natural areas and parks, encompassing 3,000 acres of land. The city also boasts 70 parks with 40 miles of paved and natural trails, three lakes, 43 athletic fields/courts, a swimming pool, a BMX track and even a skate park. Fayetteville is well known as being a bike-friendly city.

“We have excellent facilities and amenities that give us the opportunity to host a world-class event like IRONMAN,” said Molly Rawn, Executive Director of Experience Fayetteville. “We’re excited about what this means for Fayetteville and look forward to showcasing our city.”

  • Memphis, Tennessee –Located in the southwest corner of Tennessee, the city of Memphis is nestled on the Mississippi River and is a city that can’t be duplicated. It is the realm of music icons, where streets rock and the Mississippi River flows; it is a city that can feed your soul with its Southern hospitality and original flavors. Memphis is more than a place—it’s an experience. In the home of the blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, visitors can chase music legends at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Catch live music on Beale Street every night of the week. Sample the diverse food-and-drink scene that features ample barbecue and soul food—and experience Memphis’ new generation of chefs that like to riff on tradition—as well as the craft brewers and distillers who make sure you have something good to pair it with. Memphis has received numerous accolades including being listed as one of “America’s Friendliest Cities” by Travel + Leisure, as well as “The Best Affordable Destinations in the U.S” by US News and World Report.

“Memphis is a world-class sports destination that is complemented by the amazing food and music our city is known for around the world,” said Kevin Kane, President & CEO of Memphis Tourism. “We are a city that continues to grow as a major player on the global sports stage after being selected as one of four host cities for the world for the prestigious World Golf Championships starting in 2019. IRONMAN would complement our variety of year-round sporting events that make Memphis a must-see sports destination.”

Tulsa, Oklahoma – Situated on the Arkansas River between the Osage Hills and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma, Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state. It boasts a wide variety of attractions, including Gathering Place (the largest privately funded public park in the country), Philbrook and Gilcrease museums, the Tulsa Zoo, and the Oklahoma Aquarium. Visitors can also enjoy professional baseball and soccer at the downtown stadium, ONEOK Field. Tulsa is known as a barbeque town but also boasts James Beard award-winning seafood and internationally renowned craft beer. The city prides itself on offering big-city experiences in a completely different way: no huge crowds, no big attitudes, just plenty to do for you and your whole group.

“In 2019 alone, Tulsa was fortunate to host the Big 12 Wrestling Championship and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. In the last five years, we’ve hosted the Bassmaster Classic, USA BMX Grand Nationals and the Arabian Horse Association’s U.S. Nationals. Tulsa is ready for IRONMAN – we are well-suited for this style of event. We’re thrilled to be selected as a potential city for this internationally prestigious competition,” said Ray Hoyt, President of Tulsa Regional Tourism.

Existing IRONMAN host communities have measured as much as $10M USD of direct economic impact on the local economy, with a total of $13M USD when also factoring indirect and induced impacts. Additionally, IRONMAN host communities have seen hotel room night counts upwards of 12,000, thanks to athletes staying an average of three to four nights in market for IRONMAN events, bringing a big boost to the local economy.

The IRONMAN Triathlon Series is the world’s premier full-distance triathlon series offering athletes the opportunity to push beyond their perceived limits by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in route to completing one of the world’s most challenging single-day endurance races and earning the coveted title of IRONMAN. Since its inception in 1978, the IRONMAN triathlon has come to represent the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit for both professional and amateur athletes. Consisting of more than 40 full-distance races globally, the series culminates in the pinnacle of triathlon with the IRONMAN World Championship held annually in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i.

For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit Media may contact

About Catch Des Moines - The Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Des Moines Area Sports Commission, collectively known as Catch Des Moines, is the official destination marketing organization promoting and representing Greater Des Moines to leisure travelers and meeting/sports planners. Our focus is to increase visitors to the metro and elevate the visitor experience to drive economic success and enhance the quality of life in the 15 local Greater Des Moines communities we represent. For more information,

About Fayetteville - For four years in a row, Fayetteville has been listed as a top-five city on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Places to Live in the United States.” Fayetteville offers a multitude of experiences that allow guests to create their own adventure, and always leaves them wanting more. This eclectic community hosts events year-round and boasts the best entertainment in the region. It’s where culture and nature meet, and free spirits thrive. For more information, visit

About Memphis - Founded in 1925, Memphis Tourism, a 501(c)(6) membership organization, serves as the official destination marketing and tourism organization for Memphis and Shelby County. The Memphis Tourism sales staff covers the convention, sports and tourism sales market segments and is supported by a marketing department that includes advertising, digital marketing, research, public relations and membership. Memphis Tourism also has representatives for the destination working in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Japan and the United Kingdom.  The Memphis Sports Council operates within Memphis Tourism and works to bring a variety of large and small sporting events to Memphis and Shelby County each year, in addition to supporting annual sporting events. Memphis Management Group (MMG), a subsidiary of Memphis Tourism, operates both the Memphis Cook Convention Center and The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. For more information about Memphis Tourism, visit

About Tulsa - Geographically, Tulsa sits at the crossroads of America. Metaphorically, it is the crossroads of America.

From Art Deco masterpieces of the roaring ‘20s to miles of open road along Route 66 to three of the largest tribal nations in the country, northeast Oklahoma is a region with an authentically American heritage. It’s a destination for outdoors enthusiasts and adventure seekers, with thousands of miles of shoreline, the headquarters of USA BMX and the country’s largest privately funded public park, Gathering Place. As the home to a storied local music scene and the archives of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, Tulsa is quickly becoming the Americana capital of the world. 

Tulsa is a community that inspires. Find your inspiration at

About IRONMAN - As part of Wanda Sports Holdings, the IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the UCI Velothon® Series, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, premier marathons including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, trail running like Ultra-Trail Australia™, and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 230 events across 53 countries. For more information, visit

About Wanda Sports Holding - Wanda Sports Holdings is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media and marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.


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