How Much Do Triathletes Make? Ironman Prize Money

There is no denying that triathletes compete fiercely. They train hard to compete in endurance tests across swimming, running and biking. No endurance test is not dramatic or competitive than the Ironman World Championship. This ultimate distance race was created to find out whether cyclists were the fittest athletes.

Ironman is today the most sought-after endurance race with more than 100,000 triathletes participating from across the world. It is held on the active volcano of Hawaii and there is so much more than the wish to race through this landscape that drives such a large number of participants every year.

ironman prize money

The prize money for this competition is one of the most attractive things that motivate triathletes to prepare for rigorous races. Let us discuss the Ironman Championship prize money and try to understand how much triathletes make from these competitions.

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Ironman Prize Money – A Complete Guide

Every year, more than 40 Ironman events are held across the world with even more half Ironman races since their introduction in 2001. The World Triathlon Series offered prize money of $150,000 with an additional bonus pool of $855,000 in 2019, making the total prize pool of $2.85 million. The bonus pool was distributed among the top 35 athletes and the male and female World Championship winners took home $83,500 in addition to their prize money won at these events.

The most difficult one-day endurance event in the world, Ironman triathlon should be completed in 17 hours. Anybody who manages to complete the races in this duration is called an Ironman and can win anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 as prize money. The Ironman branded and half Ironman races are the ones that distribute the biggest prize money.

What Is the Prize Money for Ironman Kona?

The Ironman Kona race consists of a 3.8km swim in Kailua-Kona Bay with a 42.2km coastal marathon ranging from Keauhou to Keahole Point and back to the starting point. The race also includes a biking of 180km along the lava to Hawaii and back. This means all the participants have to cover a total distance of 226.3km to be eligible to win.

what is the prize money for ironman

To earn the place in the race, enthusiasts should struggle to win the age group in one of the 49 qualifying races held across 27 countries of the world. Last year saw over 90,000 athletes competing in different Ironman events in different parts of the world. What attracts so many people to this race is the huge prize money.

The total prize money for Ironman Kona is $650,000. Both the men and women pro race winners win an amount of $120,000 as a part of the total prize purse of over half a million dollars. The prize money is handed out to up to the tenth place, decreasing from first to tenth with the tenth position winner getting about $10,000 as the prize.

The prize money paid out by World Triathlon Corporation has been declining since 2015 and it has shrunk by 6% in 2019. The prize money for Ironman races in 2019 was about $454000 lesser than that in 2015. For the half Ironman races as well, the prize purse went down by about 4 percent. The number of races in 2019 was more than in 2015 when they paid out over $2.4 million.

The number of races as well as the prize purse in the ‘World Triathlon Series’ has remained the same in 2018 and 2019. The highest winnings go to the athletes that do well in big money races like Kona. SuperLeague offers considerable prize money that gives better winning chances to short course athletes. Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis, the 2019 World Championship winners who have also won the SuperLeague Series top the highest winning lists.

Talking about the WTC races, the athletes who win the biggest Ironman events earn the biggest prize pools. The top two positions are held by Anne Haug and Jan Frodeno, the Kona winners. Other athletes with the highest earnings have accumulated at lot of their prize money in 2019 from WTC races. There are a few athletes who have made earnings from Challenge races and short course events.

Ironman World Championship Prize Money

The Ironman World Championship has been held since 1978 every year in Hawaii and conducted by the World Triathlon Corporation. It is a culmination of multiple Ironman qualification races held at different places in the world. The total prize purse awarded to the top finishers of the championship is $650,000.

ironman world championship prize money

As the 2020 Ironman World Championship has already been postponed due to the current situations that vary between countries, the company is likely to update the slots and prize money to adjust to the condition. For example, as half of the pro athletes live in Europe, half the prize money and world slots will be assigned to the European races.

Though the total prize purse for the World Championship will remain unchanged, the prizes for qualifying races will be adjusted. Moreover, Ironman is likely to spend the prize money broadly across the field, paying higher to pros who are not at the top so that they can earn enough during the crisis.

How Much Do Triathletes Make?

A newer discipline in the Olympic Games, triathlon involves a mix of speed and stamina and attracts more and more people every year to the sport. Apart from the eye-catching prize money of different races, triathletes can make a lot from their salaries and other opportunities, making this profession one of the most lucrative options.

triathlon prize money


The average salary of triathletes is approximately $80,000 per year. However, professional team sport athletes can earn much more than this average as salaries. More than half of the triathletes earn about $40,000 every year.


According to USA Triathlon, the governing body for the sport, the average income of a triathlete was $128,000 per year as recorded in 2011. This income doesn’t solely come from winnings. Triathletes often have salaried jobs, a lot of them earning six-figure salaries.

Earnings generally depend on the event with marathons and sprints being the most lucrative. The top athletes in these races do quite well and can even make $100,000 yearly. Runners in the ranks 10-25 in the world generally make $10,000 to $60,000 per year depending on the races.

Professionals outside the top 5-10% and newcomers can make about $20,000 per year and often have other sources of income. The best triathletes in the world earn through prize purses and sponsorships. Lesser known athletes rely on prize money while athletes with big names make more from sponsorship deals.

Prize Money

The amount earned from prize money is quite huge for these competitors. The highest winnings are generally for endurance races. For example, the first place winner gets an average of $20,000 for a race and the prize pools decrease in an amount from the first position to the twentieth. The second-place can attract a prize of about $14,000 while the third position gets approximately $10,000 as prize money.

Triathletes even qualify for year-end bonuses. For example, the top 30 men and women athletes split a bonus of $600,000 at the end of the season in 2012 with the highest-ranked athlete getting $60,000 and the second qualifier earning $45,000.

Other Sources

Triathletes often rely on sponsorships and endorsement deals for their income. For most top athletes making six-figure earnings, sponsorship amounts generally exceed the prize money for races. Big brands across the world often sign multi-million-dollar deals with these athletes, adding a lot to their yearly income.

Triathletes can also start earning from coaching. A number of athletes take up a coaching career at some point in life to train others and get a constant stream of income in the later years of their life. Working as a coach in the field is one of the most lucrative ways triathletes can add to their earnings.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a growth in employment for triathletes in 2020 to be faster than the average growth of 14 percent for other occupations in the United States. With more and more events popping up, the demands for pro athletes rises and the sport keeps expanding. Triathletes can expect increased salaries and earnings with this growth.

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