After an 8-year hiatus, Japan's primary large-scale triathlon race organizer Athlonia announced plans in early August to bring back the full distance IRONMAN to Japan in 2023.
The brief news release mentions coordination with Higashi Mikawa, located in the Toyokawa basin in the eastern part of Aichi Prefecture and home to the city of Toyohashi. Aichi Prefecture has been the home to IRONMAN 70.3 Centrair since 2010. However, since a major accident among athletes on the compact seven-lap bike course in the 2020 edition of the race, IRONMAN has remained dormant in Japan - failing to return in 2021 and with no signs for revival in 2022.
Read the brief news release in Japanese at https://athlonia.com/topics/post-3/
IRONMAN Japan: Background
Many don't know that Japan has a long history with IRONMAN and is one of the oldest qualifying IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. In 1985, Japan hosted the first IRONMAN triathlon in Asia and became the second international Kona qualifier after IRONMAN New Zealand. However, IRONMAN Japan has experienced multiple periods of interruption.
Between 1985 and 2009, IRONMAN Japan took place in Lake Biwa eleven times, Goto nine times, and Hokkaido three times. The inaugural edition in 1985 was won by Dave Scott and Julie Moss. The second edition in 1986 was won by Mark Allen and Julie Moss on a shortened course. In 1997, severe typhoon damage forced the cancellation of the swim and eventually, the 1998 edition of IRONMAN Japan.
After a three-year hiatus, IRONMAN Japan moved to Goto in 2001. The tenth anniversary of IRONMAN Japan in Goto was disrupted in 2010 by the international spread of hand, foot, and mouth (HFM) disease. For unspecified reasons, the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) soon withdrew licensing for the IRONMAN brand. The following year, the triathlon took place without the IRONMAN brand and has since remained a mainstay on the long distance domestic race circuit under the name Goto Nagasaki International Triathlon (learn more at https://gototri.com/).
In 2013, IRONMAN Japan was revived with direct support from the WTC - this time, in Hokkaido. Hosted around Lake Toya, the race in Hokkaido quickly gained a reputation for its freshwater swim, smooth, non-technical bike course, and scenic lakeside run course showcasing fireworks at night. Leading up to the third (and final) edition, the race organizers were abruptly forced to make changes to the cycling course due to the collapse of a bridge. The following year in 2016, with no guaranteed completion date for repair works and the inability to meet international quality and safety requirements, the organizers announced the third cancellation of IRONMAN Japan.
1985 to 1997 Lake Biwa (Shiga) (course shortened in 1986, swim cancelled in 1997, cancelled in 1987, 1993, 1994 and 1998)
2001 to 2009 Goto (Nagasaki)
2013 to 2015 Hokkaido (https://www.ironman.com/im-japan)
2010 to 2020 Centrair Chita Peninsula