On Saturday, 2,000 athletes from 50 states and 64 countries will descend on Kailua-Kona, HI for the 2012 Ironman World Championship.
The competition comprises a 2.4-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, a 112-mile bicycle race through the lava fields of Kona, and a 26.2-mile run to finish at the waterfront of Ali’i Drive.
There were five ways athletes could qualify for the world championships. They could earn a slot at one of many qualifying events held worldwide, be selected in a lottery, bid for a slot through an eBay Auction, be eligible through the legacy program or through a new program called Kona Inspired, where fans chose eight inspirational athletes from a pool of contenders who submitted compelling stories about why they should be chosen to compete.
The 2012 professional race will include Australian athletes Craig Alexander, the defending champion now up for his fourth world championship title, and Mirinda Carfrae, the 2010 World Champion and 2011 runner-up. The two are some of the favorites to win for this year's competition.
Other notable athletes include Leanda Cave (winner of the 2012 IRONMAN World Championship 70.3), Rachel Joyce (runner up at the 2012 IRONMAN Melbourne) and Pete Jacobs (winner at the 2012 IRONMAN Lake Placid).
Some stats from this year’s Championship:
- More than 53 percent of participants are first-time competitors. Of those, 71 percent are men and 29 percent are female.
- The age of competitors will range from 19 to 82.
- Men comprise 72 percent of all participants.
- The most common competitor’s age group is 31-40 (32 percent), followed closely by the 41-50 bracket (31 percent).
- More athletes will compete in the 71-and-older cagetory (two percent of total participants), than in the 20-and-under category (one percent).
- Australia (21 percent of international participants) and Germany (13 percent) are the two foreign countries best represented.
- California (17 percent of US competitors) and New York (seven percent) are the best-represented states.
- The best-represented US cities will be New York, NY (28 participants); Boulder, CO (20); and Kailua, Kona, HI (19).