The Ironman, 140.6, or Full-Distance triathlon is a long-format multisport event, including a 2.4 mile/3.86km swim, 112 mile/180.25km bike, and 26.2 mile/42.2km run (a full marathon to finish!). These events are a huge test of mental and physical endurance, and require serious training and commitment. The format originated in 1978 in Hawaii, where the annual championships are now held. Official Ironman branded triathlons are organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). There are two official Ironman events in the UK, in Bolton and Wales, where it is possible to qualify for the world championships. At Ironman triathlons, there are cut-offs at several stages throughout the race: the swim must be completed within 2hrs20minutes, and the bike course must be finished within 10hrs30minutes of starting the race; you must complete the entire race within 17 hours if you want to hear the immortalising words "You are an Ironman" at the end. There are other races, such as the Outlaw triathlons, which are not official Ironman events, but are still held over the same distance and provide just as significant a challenge. These are organised by the International Triathlon Union (ITU).
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About Ironman Triathlons in the UK
The Ironman, 140.6, or Full Distance Triathlon is the ultimate challenge for true endurance athletes. The event consists of a 3.8k swim, 180k cycle and 42.2k run (marathon distance) . This gives a total distance covered of 226.2k or 140.6 miles, hence the name. This is no spur of the moment challenge, many athletes will put in 6 months or more of preparations and we recommend you take the training seriously.
You’ll also want to make sure your properly prepared when it comes to kit. Without certain essentials, you won't be allowed to compete on the day, which would be unfortunate after all the training. Check out our list of 33 essentials to bring with you on race day for a handy checklist, however, be sure to check the specific requirements for any race you decide to enter.
What are the best Ironman events?
In recent years, more and more competitors have been testing themselves in long format triathlons. This has also led to a greater choice of events to compete in. Beyond the Ironman, there is another breed of extreme triathlon which is even more challenging. The Xtri world series have created some of the most brutal endurance events in the world. For example, the Celtman has you swim in ice cold water, followed by an extended cycle before finally climbing multiple Munros in the rugged Scottish Highlands.
What is the average time to complete an Ironman triathlon?
The Ironman is one of the most difficult one day events out there. With a typical cut off time of 17 hours, just finishing is a huge accomplishment. Average finishing times will also vary greatly depending on the course and terrain. That said, a finishing time of around 13 hours for a male and 14 for a female athlete would be very strong. For perspective, the world champions each year will look to complete a fast course in between 8 to 9 hours.
How long should I train for an Ironman triathlon?
Training from scratch for one of these events would take around 6 months. If you want to finish within the time limit you’ll have to train long and hard, but the effort will all be worthwhile when you cross that finish line at the end of it all.