After a COVID hiatus, Ironman Triathlon returns to Hawaii Island — along with 5,000 athletes

For the first time in three years, the Ironman Triathlon is back on the big island, drawing 5,000 triathletes while also forcing some businesses to close
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:33 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:02 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in three years, the Ironman Triathlon will be back on Hawaii Island this weekend. It’s a welcome economic boon after a long dry spell.

Some 5,000 triathletes are set to flock to the island for the event.

“You have the Super Bowl that will probably never come to Hawaii, but here you have the best athletes in the world and Hawaii is the mecca,” Hawaii Island Mayor Mitch Roth told Hawaii News Now.

The competition will now be split into two days, with the women going on Thursday and the men racing on Saturday. On both days, traffic in the area will be blocked off — with the majority of Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Kuakini Highway and numerous side streets closed from sun up to sun down.

“It will be a little inconvenient on Thursday and on Saturday. They’ve actually closed a lot of other Ali’i drive already,” Roth said. “We’re recommending people just be aware of which roads are going to be impacted.”

Roth reiterated that the road closures, while impacting businesses, are necessary.

“Events like Ironman, where you have people coming to Hawaii and infusing money into our community, are really important,” Roth said.

But some business owners disagree.

“I know it does bring money into the economy here and into the town, but I think it could be narrowed down to one day like normal,” said Nakoa Pabre, owner of Umeke’s Fish Market in Kona.

He made the decision to close his restaurant from Thursday through Saturday due to their location being right in the middle of the race route.

“Closing down three days is a big loss of revenue,” Pabre said. “Plus now all my guys have short days and we’re still kind of recouping from COVID, so it’s it’s really tough.”

The races start at the Kailua pier at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and Saturday.