Want to go to Kona? Here's where you want to start. Be aware that WTC, owner of Ironman, often adds new events with additional slots (e.g., Cairns, Sweden), and occasionally subtracts slots from existing races, sometimes without notice.
[Also see our comprehensive analysis of Kona Qualifying Slots and Times by Ironman Race and Age Group]
(Also see how races offering slots have changed over time: Kona Qualifying Events 2005 vs 2012)
Lottery: 250 Slots. About 250 slots are distributed by 5 lotteries:
- 100 for 'Legacy' Athletes who have finished 12 or more Ironman branded racesi
- 100 for general lottery, providing entrants an extra chance for each previous year they entered the lottery
- 5 for physically challenged
- 24 for residents of the Big Island, Hawaii
- 20 for Hawaii state residents, not including Big Island
Pro Division: 85 Slots. Beginning in 2011, pros earn Kona slots via a pro ranking system. Approximately 85 slots are expected to be awarded to pros this year. Additionally, pros who have won the Ironman World Championship within the previous 5 years are automatically granted entry.
Ironman Executive Challenge (XC): 25 Slots. Select business executives (roughly 12 to 16 per race) compete with age groupers in one of several Ironman or Ironman 70.3 races for the chance of winning Kona slots specifically reserved for the executives. In the 2011 season, Ironman XC included Ironman events in Arizona, Coeur d'Alene, Florida, Germany, and Louisville (typically 3 or 4 slots per race), and Ironman 70.3 events in California, Mallorca, New Orleans and Switzerland (1 slot per Ironman 70.3 event).
Other: 49 slots. Last, add around 49 -- a very rough guess -- slots distributed to NBC (for feature human interest stories), sponsors, a celebrity or two (IndyCar racers Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira, e.g.), and an extra lucky VIP or two.
Other than trying your luck – against very long odds -- at the lottery (we estimate 7,500 enter the lottery), if you want to go to Kona, you need to qualify. An overview of the qualifying slot distribution process in 2011:
- The 1500+ race slots are allocated among 27 Ironman qualifying races and 6 Ironman 70.3 events (was 5, but 30 Ironman China slots were awarded to Ironman 70.3 Philippines), as shown above, race by race
- The slots each race gets (e.g., Wisconsin = 65 slots) are allocated among age-group divisions
- Each age group in a race gets one slot; the rest are allocated based on number of participants per age group (e.g., if 20% of athletes are M30-34, that AG gets 20% of the remaining slots)
- The slots in each race’s age-group division are reserved for the top finishers (e.g., the top 6 finishers in M45-49 are entitled to take a slot)
- It may happen that some athletes will choose to not accept a slot they earned for some reason; any slots not accepted ‘roll down’ to the next finisher(s) who also have the option to accept or pass on the slot.
- The ‘Roll Down’ process continues until all slots are taken
Visit ironman.com and ironmanworldchampionship.com for any and all official information regarding qualifying for Kona.