A sea with mountains on the horizon
Credit: IRONMAN

With five months to go until more than 6,000 of the world’s top professional and age-group triathletes descend on Taupō, New Zealand for the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship triathlon, IRONMAN is excited to reveal the championship course that will challenge and excite athletes in equal measure.

Taking place in Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand, the North Island town of Taupō will play host to the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 December for the first time in the event’s history. Steeped in tradition, New Zealand has held an IRONMAN triathlon since 1985 – the first outside of Hawai`i, making it the second oldest IRONMAN in the world, having celebrated its 40th anniversary in March. Originally held in Auckland, IRONMAN New Zealand was moved to Taupō in 1999 and was embraced by locals and triathletes from around the world from the outset.

Athletes competing in December’s VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will take on a 1.9-kilometre (1.2-mile) point-to-point swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupō, a 90-kilometre (56-mile) single loop bike course through beautiful rolling countryside and forest landscape, and a 21.1-kilometre (13.1-mile) two-lap run along the lakefront lined with spectators before finishing on the famous IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship red carpet on Tongariro Street. Course maps and further details are now available here.

Long-time Race Director of IRONMAN New Zealand, IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand and IRONMAN 70.3 Taupō, Wayne Reardon, says he’s excited for the world to experience what makes his hometown of Taupō such a spectacular place to hold a triathlon.

“The VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship course will go beyond everything athletes know and love about IRONMAN events in Taupō, with every aspect of the course elevated to a World Championship level,” said Reardon.

“The swim takes place in Lake Taupō, the largest freshwater lake in the southern hemisphere set to the backdrop of the mighty Mt Ruapehu and the Tongariro National Park, the bike course features clean, green and unspoilt rolling countryside, while the run takes place along the lakefront supported by a local community that turns out in force year on year to support every athlete from the first to the very last. And a special mention to our incredible and loyal volunteers, who without a doubt are some of the best in the world – as knowledgeable as they are enthusiastic,” he said.

Diana Bertsch, Senior Vice President of World Championship Events for The IRONMAN Group, along with the IRONMAN World Championship team have worked closely with the IRONMAN New Zealand team and local stakeholders for the past five years to come up with a course that would inspire athletes and make Taupō proud.

“Since Taupō was first announced as the host of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship back in 2018, we have been working side by side with the IRONMAN New Zealand team and local stakeholders to design a championship worthy course that will challenge and inspire our athletes and create memories of a lifetime,” said Bertsch. “Whether our athletes are taking part in their first or fifth IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, it is our mission to provide an experience that matches their hopes and dreams for this occasion. We also want to make sure we showcase the very best of Taupō and its hugely supportive community, and we think we’ve created a course that ticks all those boxes.”

The athletes’ will begin their VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship race with a 1.9-kilometre (1.2-mile) swim in the pristine waters of Lake Taupō with views of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, and Mt Ngāuruhoe in the distance. The point-to-point ROKA swim course sees athletes diving into the water by the Taupō Yacht Club, heading straight for 300m before turning left and swimming parallel to the shoreline for 1200m. One more left turn brings athletes out on the shore opposite Kaimanawa Reserve, the location of T1. To get there, first athletes must run past thousands of spectators and over a footbridge to reach their bike.

The 90-kilometre (56-mile), single loop FulGaz bike course features stunning and wide-open countryside but will challenge athletes with plenty of rolling hills and punchy climbs, as well as New Zealand’s infamous chip-seal road surface.

The bike course begins with athletes exiting T1 and heading northeast out of town along Rifle Range Road before turning right onto Tauhara Road and Broadlands Road. The course will then veer left onto View Road and continue right onto Aratiatia Road, which sees athletes cross the Waikato River where they will be treated to breathtaking views of the Aratiatia Rapids. Next, athletes will turn right onto the fully closed State Highway 5, a section of road never used before as part of an IRONMAN event, featuring some steady uphill sections followed by long, flowy downhills. Along State Highway 5 athletes will cross the Waikato River for a second time before turning left onto Springs Road. From here, athletes will continue right onto Butcher Road, cross over State Highway 5 and onto Homestead Road, right onto Halcrow Road and into Vaile Road before following Broadlands Road, Tauhara Road and Rifle Range Road back into town and into T2.

The final leg of the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship is a 21.1-kilometre (13.1-mile) HOKA run course featuring two laps along the Taupō lakefront. The course will be lined throughout with spectators, with the local Taupō community known for its fervent support of athletes at IRONMAN events. The course will see runners exit T1 and turn right towards the centre of town, turning around on Ferry Road and heading back out along the waterfront and past the recently erected Te Atea – Tapuaeharuru, a run course hot spot. From here, athletes will continue along the path out past Two Mile Bay Sailing Club – another run course hot zone – before turning around at the Two Mile Bay Boat Ramp and heading back into town. Athletes will repeat this lap before completing their final flourish, turning right onto Tongariro Street where they will reach the famous IRONMAN 70.3 red carpet and cross the VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship finish line.

The VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship is set to be a fitting final stop for the brand-new IRONMAN Pro Series™, which has seen top professional athletes go head-to-head across events around the world throughout the year. The IRONMAN Pro Series has seen athletes racing for a US$1.7million season ending bonus pool, with each event broadcast to triathlon fans around the world, including both days of the VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.