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The Rules Have Changed: IRONMAN Makes Global Competition More Inclusive

The Rules Have Changed: IRONMAN Makes Global Competition More Inclusive

Men running in IRONMAN race
IRONMAN has made updates to its IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon competitions by welcoming athletes with intellectual disabilities

You know what they say: rules are made to be broken. One of the most internationally known brands for triathlon competitors, IRONMAN, has done just that with its IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 endurance races to include competitors with intellectual disabilities. To reflect the change, the Ironman Group’s existing Physically Challenged (“PC”) Open/Exhibition division is now called the Physically Challenged/Intellectual Disability (PC/ID) Open division. Athletes with a “medically verified Visual Impairment”; “Special Teams”; “athletes with an intellectual disability”; or “athletes with a medically verified physical or neurological impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” are eligible to compete in the PC/ID Open division. The division includes PC Open athletes, ID Open athletes, and Special Teams. In accordance with the rules, anyone competing in the PC/ID Open Division is also qualified to compete in the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship via eligibility for the PC/ID Open World Championship Drawing for slots.

Race winners at IRONMAN

Along with the altered PC/ID Open division, a new Open division was also created under the Ironman Group banner for “all able-bodied athletes who wish to race in an event without a gender or age-based peer comparison” to introduce even more inclusivity within the events. Athletes interested in competing within the Open division can register on their own without going through any approval stages. However, persons in this division may not sign up to qualify for competing in the IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. 

Amid all of the aforementioned changes, IRONMAN also decided to implement updated policies for transgender athletes who must comply with “current IRONMAN requirements and the World Anti-Doping Agency criteria.” A portion of the policy update reads, “As a necessary pre-condition of eligibility to compete in gender-specific category, any athlete who has completed or plans to initiate a gender transition, or identifies as gender non-conforming, including those in the process of taking hormones, must meet current IRONMAN requirements and the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) criteria and shall consent to the disclosure of their clinical treatment to such person or persons as may be required to review for compliance in accordance with IRONMAN’s Transgender Policy.” 

Chris Nikic, known as the first person with Down syndrome to finish an IRONMAN race, states, “Inclusion in IRONMAN changed my life because it helped me get my dreams by giving me a big crazy goal. Now I also have a purpose to help others enjoy this amazing opportunity. A huge thanks to IRONMAN for being first and inspiring all the major running races around the world to follow.”

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The 2023 Global IRONMAN competition rules are scheduled to go into effect on March 1st.

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