Ideas for the future of Ironman

I thought I would start a new thread to have a random discussion about where Ironman could go from here

Most triathletes feel they are being fleeced by Ironman’s money making machine, however, it doesn’t take too much research to see that financially, Wanda Sports, owners of Ironman, is not in great shape at the moment

Wanda Sports: Turnover $1,129m margin 4.57%

In 2019 Margin has increased to 8.26%, but still poor

Market Cap it $616m…. they spent over $1bn in past 4 years, including $650m on Ironman

Triathlon, as a sport has grown massively over the past 20 years, however, in the west that growth has hit a plateau, and may even be declining

Deaths and doping have an impact on the valuation of the company…… however, these are inherent risks in extreme sports

Taking part in an Ironman is a small element of the total cost, Equipment, travel and accommodation and coaching are all major costs

Ironman have a massive amount of data, but don’t appear to leverage it at all I could imagine something like IM integration with Best Bike Split. How about IM using its data to provide a ranking for AG athletes (Not meaningless AWA status), also indicate whether people already had Kona or WC spots. This could be a subscription service with anonymised data

Ironman have created a destination, not a journey, if they own the journey then they can take more revenue. Recurring revenue increases the value of a company for more than one off revenue, I am sure that IM could create packages that generate recurring revenue from participants, for example a 3 or 5 year Ironman package

IM do not leverage their AWA program; these people should be ambassadors for Ironman to promote it at the grass routes

IM are not good at leveraging social media

Technology, I would not pay for an IM watch… unless it provides specific Ironman features, for example if my watch tracked my position and gave me information about other competitors, I would probably buy it

The sacred cow: Kona. I would run Kona once every 5 years, in the interval years, the IM Worlds Championships would be around the world, like the 70.3 worlds. Countries and Cities would bid to hold the WC

Finally, qualification events; The ironman brand has been devalued by the number of people who are only interested in becoming and Ironman. I applaud those people because doing an Ironman is a huge accomplishment, and hopefuly for many it will be a springboard to a healthier and fitter future. I would suggest running a few premium events, which have really aggressive cutoff times, numbers would be smaller, but also roads would be closed for much less time.


…or you have to do ‘qualifying events’ to do a full Ironman?


Like…join a tri club…learn how to swim and ride a bike with people around you…do a sprint, maybe a few running races and evening TTs.

Move up to doing an Oly distance, do a few of them, spend a year or two doing that.

Then do a local middle distance, your club sprint and do some volunteering for your club(s)…do a few years of that.

Then maybe do an Ironman?

Isn’t that what most people used to do just a decade ago?


Dunno about a decade ago, but definitely in the 90s.

I have always built-up my ‘season’ to an IM too; Std or Sprint, then HIM, then IM. Standard Dist…remember those :sweat_smile:

When I had more time, I would generally do: Std/HIM/Std/IM. It was easy to find Std dist races in Germany 10 years ago.

But people don’t want to wait for anything anymore!


The slow build up is a nice idea but not ideal if you are doing a mid-life crisis IM.


I was literally just typing that when your message popped up! Beaten to it!!!

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The slow build up is good but people should be free to make their own choices. Ironman have actively encouraged people to “become” an Ironman, essentially encouraging one and done. And nor is there anything wrong with that being some people’s motive. Triathlon needs to do more to keep those that may be interested in the lifestyle rather than a one off challenge, but that won’t be everyone.

A mandatory half-distance is potentially feasible, but likely Ironman would say it had to be a half distance with their company which wouldn’t be popular.

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The question is why Wanda would agree to sell, currently I believe it is worth less than half of the $650m Wanda paid, will they cut their losses and sell it on?

…and one of the ways to do that is by encouraging (or stipulating) that people do shorter events first That way, they might realise there’s more to triathlon than the slog and time commitment required to train for an Ironman.

It was 14 years before I did an Ironman, and even now there is a certain dread involved with having to train for one, rather than just go out for a ride, run etc. If people jump straight in and train properly for it, then there’s a good chance they’ll say ‘never again’ about doing triathlon.

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I’m a big fan of the slow build up. Season 1 I did Sprints and OD, Season 2 I finished with a middle distance, Season 3 I did my first IM

However, just look at the number of people posting here, and consider that IMJ has over 36,000 members… I would estimate 20,000 of those are one off Ironman participants, therefore whoever owns Ironman must be realistic about their customer base. However, one and done’s are not a good business model, so efforts need to be made to keep them coming back

Relays and ‘long course weekends’ are another good way to diversify, and maybe off-road events.

How many people can honestly say that they enjoyed doing an Ironman? I get a huge amount of enjoyment from a HIM and OD, doing an IM is not really about fun, it is about achieving a personal objective. I am sure that doing an IM would not make me fall in love with Triathlons

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Back in the day, for years you had to qualify for IM Oz at a HIM and it wasn’t a validate, it was a proper qualifying effort.

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I find the amount of people who seemingly sign up for an Ironman without any experience staggering really. No wonder they do one and wash their hands with it all. My first tri was the first Outlaw half in 2013. I was more than capable of riding the distance and had run half marathons at the time. Just figured I needed to learn how to swim (still do) but I’d still never advise someone to jump straight in at 70.3. Seeing that Ironman is fast becoming more a brand than the iron distance itself perhaps more smaller distance races could be held under the Ironman banner?

When I got into Tri in the early 90s (through running), it was a fringe sport and hardly anyone did an Ironman, because there were very few! I did it because I liked the challenge of multisport. Back then, I think Roth (IM Europe) was the only WTC Brand event in Europe, and I knew only one guy who’d done it!

So if I’m brutally honest, in a selfish way, I don’t like the sport I fell in love with becoming ‘normalised’ by the masses. So if Ironman participation drops and they axe some events, so what :man_shrugging: Those who are genuinely interested will stick with it.

Does anyone else feel that way?


I quite often watch some IM stuff on YT on the tv, as i get distracted the autoplay kicks in and I’m watching something i didn’t select.

This happened last week and it was I ‘think’ IM Santa Rosa and this chunky looking chap was stating that he was currently ‘five and zero’ for IM starts and this race was gonna be ‘six and one’.

He missed the bike cut off, so ended up being ‘six and zero’ vowing never to give up until he completes one! The mind truly boggles!

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Yeah I get that. There’s a part of me that quite likes explaining to people what a triathlon is

Christ. 6 Ironman starts. Come on man. Do some training