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Women Celebrate Long-Awaited Two-Day Format and Equal-Sized Courts in Kona – Triathlete


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After almost a decade of campaigning for gender equality, the news this week that the Ironman World Championship in October 2022 is set to feature separate men’s and women’s races, as well as equal sized fields, was met with joy.

In 2015, several female athletes joined forces to launch the 50 Women to Kona campaign in response to the fact that there were 50 spots available for men at the race in Kona, Hawaii, but only 35 for women. Although prices have always been equal, the disparity in places available to women has long been a source of controversy.

Former pro triathlete and Kona runner-up Rachel Joyce was one of the first to call for change as early as 2013, saying differently sized fields “send the wrong message”. So this week’s news was a long-awaited cause for celebration.

She said: “I am delighted to hear that Kona in October 2022 will be held over two days, with a separate women’s race and finally there will be an equal number of professional men and women able to compete in the Championship. Ironman world. . The 70.3 World Championship showed us that the separate day format means women’s professional racing can be truly celebrated. Beyond pro racing, I’m so happy for the women in the age group who will now get a cleaner race. And when it comes to equal professional fields, I guess better late than never!

Like Joyce, Alyssa Godesky has also worked hard for gender equality on sport’s biggest stage. She said: “This is fantastic news. The women’s peloton in Ironman racing has long deserved the opportunity to showcase their talents as well. I’m already looking forward to seeing how this will shake up racing, and more excited to see how the women’s peloton will rise to the occasion, providing a spectacle you won’t want to miss. Hopefully this signals a new chapter in Ironman racing that values ​​equality as much as anything else.

She added: “There is a lot of work left in the world as we work for gender equality. I’m happy to check that box, though, and toasted this milestone. I hope the many other people who have helped champion this with me over the years will too.

Ironman Champion Meredith Kessler said: “First of all, how awesome is it that Ironman athletes have two opportunities to compete in a World Championship in 2022. The fact that the October race to now be a two day event for women and men is truly historic and prolific in every way I can imagine it was a truly first class decision to be able to navigate through a surplus of detail in aim to achieve that, and I hope that continues in future world championship races in the future. In fact, I hope they decide to make it a two-day event in St. George in May too. Anyway, especially during this time, everyone should really be grateful to be able to be a part of history, wherever that may be.

Women in the age group also welcome the two-day format. Lisbeth Kenyon, 10-time Kona runner-up and five-time age group winner, explains that the one-day structure of the race, coupled with the popularity of the event, created significant and aggravating challenges for the women’s field: “The first year I raced in 1996, we were under 1,500 and I didn’t see a lot of draft,” Kenyon said. “When I came back to Kona in 2008, the terrain was much bigger and growing every year. Drafts were common on the Queen K that passed me. The bike is by far my strength, so it was frustrating to seeing women here and there nestled in the middle of large groups of mostly age group men.Even when they separated the men and women into two waves of swimming, that was still a problem to some degree.

Although Ironman attempted to solve this problem by separating the men and women into their own waves for the start of the swim, it also meant that the women started later, creating a new problem for the women. “It seems that in some years the women in the age group have a completely different race due to changes in the trade wind conditions as the morning heats up. Many years there’s almost no wind early, and at some point in the late morning it’s like someone flips a switch and suddenly the winds get strong,” Kenyon said. . “The women were more affected by the trade winds than if we had started an hour earlier. I remember seeing the pros descend on their return looking smooth, while two hours later on my own return I was gasping for air clinging to my handlebars. I saw a petite older woman literally knocked off her bike by a sudden gust of wind.

With the two-day format, however, the women will have the chance to start their race earlier than in previous years, giving the peloton the chance to race without the interference of the men’s draft groups or the trade winds.

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