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Race for More: Support the Community that Drives You

By Jeff Collignon, 11/23/21, 2:15PM EST


Looking back over a year with the IRONMAN Foundation.

NOV 23, 2021

As the 2021 season ends, we reflect and are grateful that we were together once again and competing in the most demanding and rewarding race in endurance sports. We cautiously embraced one another after months of being away. It is not until the experience is taken away from us that we fully understand what we were missing.

The time away didn’t stop us from swimming, cycling, or running. Some may have even done more of that than in a “normal” year. Yet, somehow, it was less fulfilling. It wasn’t the activity we missed. No, we missed the community where we played these sports and encouraged each other.

The IRONMAN Foundation has worked behind the scenes since 2003 to protect, foster, and grow this vital community feel. It starts with volunteers and ends with the athletes who inspire belief that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Safe, rewarding, and affordable races depend on an army of volunteers. You may only see them for a few crucial seconds of the race experience, but many volunteers are community leaders and represent important local nonprofit and community organizations for the other 364 days of the year. These organizations make race communities amazing places to live and play. With the help of only a small percentage of athletes and their supporters, the IRONMAN Foundation gives funding back to these valuable volunteer groups so that they can help keep communities ready for IRONMAN athletes. 

The work of the IRONMAN Foundation further supports our communities by responding when disaster or tragedy strikes. Just because you haven’t raced in a community, you can imagine what would happen if a fire, flood, or hurricane destroyed the town of your favorite race community.

Today, the IRONMAN Foundation is taking the next step in strengthening and growing our race community by supporting the athlete groups within our IRONMAN community, and we invite you to join. Here are some programs where you can take part.

IRONAID came about in the beginning of 2020. Founded by TEAM IMF Athlete Tim Deer, IRONAID represents athletes in the medical field, and their focus quickly became COVID-Relief by raising dollars to give back to medical workers fighting the pandemic. With the immediate needs of the pandemic behind us, IRONAID now focuses on providing and encouraging healthy habits and activities to the youth in our race communities.

The Gold Star Initiative formed when Marine Mike Ergo met Lisa Anderson, a Gold Star mother, at IRONMAN Santa Rosa. This program pairs a veteran athlete with a local Gold Star Family, and the athlete races in memory of the fallen soldier. While the Gold Star Initiative may focus on one family and one athlete on race weekend, it is more about recognizing the greatest sacrifice a service member can make and the community that soldier leaves behind. IRONMAN has its roots in the military as the founder was a Naval officer. Today, active military and veterans make up a large percentage of IRONMAN athletes, and they often comment that it is the IRONMAN training and community that has saved their lives.

While the IRONMAN community is diverse in professions and ages, there is room to improve diversity in order to share this amazing community with more people and ensure the best competition. The IRONMAN Foundation seeks to do this through Race for Change. As with any endurance sport, there are barriers that exist for all athletes to participate. The time commitment alone is enough to keep many potential athletes from racing in triathlon. What inspired you to do your first IRONMAN? It probably wasn’t the thought of spending 112 miles on a triathlon bike. Most likely it was because you saw yourself in someone who finished. Then they went on to tell you all about it for months or years. People of color are a small percentage of triathlon athletes, and very simply, young people of color don’t see themselves at the finish line. We can change this by removing barriers and bringing more people of color to the finish line. Race For Change started in 2021 by giving bikes and swim lessons to kids in Tulsa and Memphis and bringing inspiring IRONMAN athletes of color to the community. In 2022, Race For Change will happen in 6 race communities officially, but we need everyone’s help to bring it to every race community.

You, too, can help strengthen and grow the IRONMAN community by supporting the IRONMAN Community. There are many ways to do it. You can join TEAM IMF and get complimentary race registrations, purchase community fund registrations, or simply donate as a part of your annual philanthropic giving here.

Every gift goes a long way. If you have supported the IRONMAN Foundation in the past, we thank you for your backing and ask for your continued help. If you are interested in being one of our strongest supporters, we encourage you to join the IMF Podium Club. You can get more information by reaching out to Jeff Collignon here.