Half Ironman Distance
The Half Ironman Distance, also known as Ironman 70.3, is among the many series of middle distance races of triathlon officially organized by the WTC (World Triathlon Corporation).
The new designation of 70.3 denotes the total covered distance in miles, completed by triathletes in the race: 1.2 miles swimming, 56 miles cycling, and 13.1 miles running. It was called Half Ironman Distance because each distance for the three events is exactly half the distances in the segments covered in the Ironman triathlon.
The Half Ironman distance has gained so much following and popularity since its inception in 2006.
In fact, it has become the world’s fastest growing series of triathlon races. Competitions for Half Ironman distance for athletes in Europe, regions of Latin America, and the Asia Pacific rim are held 12 months before the culminating annual World Championship series, held in September of every year.
Every November, from 2006 to 2010, the Half Ironman distance World Championship was held in Clearwater, Florida. However, starting in 2011, the venue has been moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and the date of the competition was also moved up by a month, to September.
The 2012 Half Ironman distance is planned for September 9, 2012 at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada.
The 2012 Half Ironman Distance World Championship is the culmination of the different Half Ironman Distance races held worldwide between August 14, 2011 and August 13, 2012. Professional and amateur athletes earn the right to compete in the final event which is co-sponsored by the US Marine Corps, by qualifying in the competitions in the various Half Ironman Distance series.
Professional athletes or more specifically, triathletes qualify for the World Championship by competing in the qualifying series and earning points to upgrade their professional rankings. The five highest scores in the events are counted for the professional rankings of the triathletes. The top 30 athletes in the female division and top 50 athletes in the male division get the slot for the Half Ironman Distance World Championship. Each professional triathlete is also eligible for the prize money in each qualifying races, ranging from $15,000 to as high as $75,000.
Amateur triathletes on the other hand, can earn a spot in the Half Ironman Distance World Championship by securing a qualifying place at any of qualifying series or by being drawn in the Physically Challenged Lottery. Every age group bracket or category is tentatively given a qualifying spot in every qualifying race.
The triathletes who won in the first ever Half Ironman Distance World Championship in 2006 are:
Championship for Men: Craig Alexander from Australia (Gold), Simon Lessing from United Kingdom (Silver), Richie Cunningham from Australia (Bronze)
Championship for Women: Samantha McGlone from Canada (Gold), Lisa Bentley from Canada (Silver), Mirinda Carfrae from Australia (Bronze)
The triathletes who won in the 2011 Half Ironman Distance World Championship are:
Championship for Men: Craig Alexander from Australia (Gold), Chris Lieto from the USA (Silver), Jeff Symonds from Canada (Bronze)
Championship for Women: Melissa Rollison from Australia (Gold), Karin Thuerig from Switzerland (Silver), Linsey Corbin from the USA (Bronze)
These champion triathletes come back every year for another shot at the Half Ironman Distance Championship. The commitment they have is remarkable, and also serves as an inspiration to others who want to join this elite group of athletes.