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A Good Omen for 2021: Every IRONMAN Race is Sold Out

31 Dec, 2020

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

How tired are athletes of quarantine, home training and virtual events, and how much does the racing community want to get back in action? Enough to sell out every single full-distance IRONMAN race in the U.S. and Canada currently being offered in 2021.

And, say organizers, it’s obvious what athletes want.

“Coming off an unprecedented year in which many events around the world were unable to take place, athletes have spoken and are eager to get back to racing,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, Managing Director of North America for The IRONMAN Group. “It is an exciting time for our sport, and it is great that IRONMAN athletes are eager to be racing in 2021. We can’t wait to welcome them, and we look forward to producing some fantastic events.”

And it proves that an event can be a success story even before it is offered. Many events sold out shortly after registration opened. The popular Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Florida sold out of general registration in two days, while IRONMAN California in Sacramento, new to the circuit, sold out in one day. IRONMAN Arizona reached capacity before it reached general registration, selling out during presale.

Of course, the question becomes: How did they do it? And the answer is this: IRONMAN never quit. When events went dark in spring 2020, IRONMAN introduced the IRONMAN VC, short for IRONMAN Virtual Club, which allowed users to join for free, then use a connected fitness device to log their activities. This, in turn, allowed athletes to train for their goal of competing in an in-person event.

And it worked in a big way. By the turn of the new year, more than 125,000 people across 180 nations and all U.S. states had signed up to the IRONMAN Virtual Club including a large number of first timers who have subsequently signed up for an event in 2021. Hundreds of thousands of athletes have competed among the 34 IRONMAN VR races offered since its debut.

The slate of races for the coming year include the following:

  • Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas – April 24, 2021
  • Certified Piedmontese IRONMAN North American Championship Tulsa – May 23, 2021
  • IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) – June 27, 2021
  • ViewSPORT IRONMAN Lake Placid – July 25, 2021
  • IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant (Quebec) – August 22, 2021
  • IRONMAN Canada-Penticton (British Columbia) – August 29, 2022
  • IRONMAN Wisconsin – September 12, 2021
  • Select Blinds IRONMAN Maryland – September 18, 2021
  • Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga Presented by McKee a Family Bakery – September 26, 2021
  • IRONMAN California – October 24, 2021
  • Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Florida – November 6, 2021
  • IRONMAN Arizona – November 21, 2021

In May, IRONMAN introduced its Safe Return To Racing guidelines, which outline a series of comprehensive operating principles prepared in accordance with industry standards for endurance sporting events.

A number of events in North America were successfully conducted under these guidelines in 2020 – focusing on five key areas: enhanced hygiene, screening and education, density reduction, touchpoint minimization and athlete self-reliance.

The 2021 IRONMAN events will continue to be held under these guidelines and modified as appropriate.

Athletes will benefit from a full schedule of activities on the Virtual Club platform to train, prepare, motivate and compete in the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series. As a go-to hub for all things IRONMAN, athletes are presented with opportunities to train, compete, and celebrate achievements with a global community of fellow athletes.

What else could possibly go right for IRONMAN this year? How about this: The first athlete with Down Syndrome successfully completed the IRONMAN in Panama City Beach in November. Chris Nikic, age 21, ran the full course, crossed the finish line and scored a Guinness World Record as the only individual with Down Syndrome to accomplish this feat to date. In his Instagram post right after the event, the athlete noted, "Time to set a new and BIGGER goal for 2021."

World, consider yourself on notice.

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