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EMT Kona Week: The Ironman World Championships by the numbers

Posted Oct 05 2010 4:40pm


Each year, approximately 110,000 athletes participate in Ironman and 70.3 Qualifier Series worldwide for their chance to qualify. In 2010, 7,339 athletes entered the Ironman Lottery, which awards 150 slots to U.S. citizens, 50 slots to international athletes and approximately five slots to physically challenged athletes.

A total prize purse of $560,000 is distributed among the 10 professional male and female finishers. The first-place male and female finishers each receive $110,000, while the second place finishers receive $55,000. A total of $20,000 are made available to professional athletes.

Returning champions Craig Alexander, of Australia, and Chrissie Wellington, of Great Britain. Alexander joined an elite group of competitors to become only the fourth man to defend his crown at the event. Wellington finished 23rd overall and secured her third consecutive World Championship title. Wellington’s winning time broke the course record of eight-time Ironman World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser, of Zimbabwe, with an overall time of 8 hours, 54 minutes and 2 seconds.

Course records:

Men – Luc Van Lierde (BEL), 8:04:08 in 1996

Women – Chrissie Wellington (GBR), 8:54:02 in 2009

During the course of the race, more than 235,000 cups; 46,600 bike bottles; 20,000 gallons of fluid replacement, cola, water and soup; 66 cases of bananas and 261 bottles of sunscreen are used, provided by more than 5,000 volunteers along the 140.6-mile course. Throughout the day, athletes receive encouragement and cheers from more than 20,000 spectators.

“Average” is a word not typically associated with Ironman athletes. Considering the accomplishments and abilities of athletes ranging from Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington to Robert McKeague,(oldest person to finish Ironman Hawaii) Charles Plaskon (legally Blind Triathlete) and Ricky James,(paraplegic former motocross rider) it will take quite a fitness explosion for the media to refer to Ironman athletes as, well … “Average Joes.”

With this preoccupation on extraordinary feats, it is easy to overlook the fact that most competitors hold more in common with the general population than one might expect. They are doctors, attorneys and firemen. They may even be your neighbor. Of the approximately 1,800 athletes participating in this year’s event, 72 percent are male and 28 percent are female. A total of 983 athletes are participating in Kona for the first time.

The countries most represented are the United States, Germany and Australia. Some of the areas of occupation with the highest percentage of athletes are: accountants, students, attorneys, consultants, sales managers and scientists. Other athletes are: writers, artists, dentists and architects.

The male 40-44, 35-39 and 45-49 are the age groups with the highest number of athletes.

The youngest athletes scheduled to compete are Konoka Azumi, 21, of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan and Brandon Perea, 19, from Hilo.

The Ironman World Championship boasts more than 30 athletes over the age of 70, including this year’s oldest registered competitors, Harriet Anderson, 75, of San Carlos, Calif., and Lew Hollander, 80, from Bend, Ore.

You could be thinking, ‘‘I could do that, but what does it take to train?’’ Never fear, there are average times for this, too. Triathletes train an average of seven months for Ironman. The average hours per week devoted to training for Ironman generally fall between 18 and 30-plus. Average training distances for the three events:

1) Miles per week swimming: 7 (11.3 km)

2) Miles per week biking: 225 (373.3 km)

3) Miles per week running: 48 (77.2 km)


The numbers are astounding. More than 500,000 items must be set up, put together, washed, cleaned, picked up or disposed of during the Ford Ironman World Championship. Here’s a slightly different perspective:

The cookies served would provide a treat for every resident of Kailua-Kona; one for every man, woman and child.

Athletes consume enough bananas to feed two monkeys for a year at the Honolulu Zoo. The combined fluid replacement drink, cola, soup, water and ice consumed could fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

All this for an event that lasts less than one day.

This story courtesy of Danny Ward (our British Bureau chief) of ( TriSport Epping ).

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