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jim cissel September 25, 2023
Kona is known for strong winds and hot weather. It's a straight course with few technical challenges outside of those nasty crosswinds.
Nice, on the other hand, is highly technical for an Ironman. The elevation gain of over 8,000 feet over the 112 miles suits athletes who can climb and also really is for confident descenders. In contrast, Kona's flatter course allows athletes to focus on aerodynamics.
I missed racing with both male and female athletes, I enjoy seeing everyone toe the line on the same day, regardless of age and gender. However, the benefits of having a smaller field racing allowed for a less crowded bike.
In Kona, the Ironman event takes the center stage. It feels like the entire town is part of the race with triathletes from around the world swarming the area. There is something special about feeling like the race is King.
Nice, however, blends into the city's life, which means more convenience but also more tourists that have nothing to do with Ironman. Along with the race this year, the Rugby World Cup was also bringing people into town. In fact, a large majority of people in the city had nothing to do with race and could care less. The positive of this is the infrastructure of the city is totally prepared for the race.
Your ease of getting to Nice or Kona depends on where you live. For those on the East Coast, Nice might be more accessible, while those on the West Coast may prefer Kona.
I found the prices to be very reasonable for food and drinks in Nice. While I was not in Kona for 2022, I was swamped with horror stories about the cost of living once you landed.
Both places have their charm. If you prefer a small-town race with all the focus on the event, go for Kona. But if you want to soak up a lively European city atmosphere, Nice is the place to be.
Nice and Kona will co-host the event until 2026 switching between men and women each year. Athletes who dream of racing at Kona will still have that option (not every year but it’s not completely gone).
It will be really interesting to see how the Ironman Championships makes changes to Nice and how the female race feels this year in Kona, where the women will have their time to shine! If you’ve done Kona and Nice, I’d love to hear your thoughts on which you preferred