IRONMAN expects to make economic history this year as approximately 2,500 of the world’s best triathletes — plus their families, friends and race fans — descend on the Kona Coast for the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship on Saturday, Oct. 12.
The event projects it will create an economic impact of more than $30 million to the state, with a weeklong set of festivities and side events before race day, an IRONMAN press release stated.
“We are excited to welcome more than 20,000 of our IRONMAN `Ohana, to the beautiful community here in Kailua-Kona to be a part of the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship `Ohana,” said Diana Bertsch, senior vice president of World Championship Events for The IRONMAN Group. “We take pride in the significant impact of this event, from the inspirational athletes and their physical accomplishments to the benefits for the local communities and showcasing of this amazing location to the world.”
Kailua-Kona is a draw on its own, offering visitors a warm and sunny environment ideal for snorkeling, sunbathing and swimming. Combined with world-famous golf courses and resorts, there are plenty of leisure and adventure activities within driving distance of Kailua-Kona.
Starting in Kona, guests can travel through all but four of the world’s different climate zones thanks to the unique geological features of Hawai`i Island. Ranging from the tropics to the tundra, visitors can experience the rich coffee fields of Kona, jet-black sands of Punalu`u Beach, lush valleys of the Hilo and Hāmākua Coasts, and the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea.
Taking advantage of all that Hawai`i has to offer, athletes — as well as their families and friends — stay an average of six nights for the IRONMAN World Championship, according to the release. Their presence has bolstered the expected total economic impact of the event to more than $30 million based on IRONMAN’s calculations.
Going beyond tourism, the event also infuses the community with charitable donations to nonprofits and other groups through the IRONMAN Foundation. This year’s grant funding of more than $120,000 brings the total giveback awarded in the region to over $1.8 million across 1,325 nonprofit organizations, the release said.
Some foundations IRONMAN will support in 2019 are People’s Advocacy for Trails Hawai‘i, with the mission statement to “…connect people and places on Hawai‘i Island with pathways and bikeways,” and the Sayre Foundation, which raises money for the Hawai‘i County Fire Department.
“Kona has been home to the IRONMAN World Championship since 1981, and we take great pride in sharing our amazing community with the world each October,” added Bertsch. “Every year the event continues to grow. … The IRONMAN World Championship’s global appeal, in combination with the surreal beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, makes for the perfect competitive destination. We are extremely honored to extend our Aloha to all who come to experience this amazing event.”
Creating further worldwide exposure, the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship will enjoy 20 hours of comprehensive live race-day coverage globally via IRONMAN Now on Facebook Watch and through regional television coverage, including NBC Sports, in the United States.
This year’s IRONMAN World Championship live coverage continues to give viewers a front-row seat to everything from the early morning body marking to the final hour finish-line celebration. Last year’s coverage had nearly 20 million total views on Facebook Watch. There is an expectation that number will grow in 2019, IRONMAN said.
In addition to race-day coverage, the continuation of the sports documentary television series IRONMAN: Quest for Kona fueled by Gatorade Endurance will return for a third season. The series will profile five triathletes from around the world and their journeys to the Vega IRONMAN World Championship.
In 2018, this episodic series, which aired on NBC and Facebook, reached over 7.6 million viewers, the release said. Airdates for the 2019 edition will be announced soon.