ironman distances

What you need to know about Ironman distances, events, and rules

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If you’re serious about fitness, you’ve probably heard of the grueling Ironman triathlon. Organized by the World Triathlon Corporation, Ironman is thought to be the most challenging one-day sporting event in the world. Here, we run down everything you need to know about the race, including Ironman distances, events, and rules. So, if you think you might have what it takes to complete one of the world’s toughest races, read on to find out more.

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1. Amateurs take on the same race as the pros

Ironman is no regular triathlon – the Ironman distances cover a staggering 140 miles. Athletes kick off the race with a 2.4-mile open water swim, followed by a 112-mile cycle, then round the day off with a 26.2-mile run – which, technically, is a regulation-length marathon.

2. The course was formed from ‘the three toughest races’ there are

Ironman was invented by John and Judy Collins, a couple in the US Navy who were stationed in Hawaii. One night, they began to discuss the idea of combining the three toughest races that were held on the island – and the Ironman triathlon was born. The first race was on February 18, 1978, where John said, “whoever finishes first, we shall call him the Ironman”.

3. There are no breaks

ironman distances

During an Ironman, nobody stops – the swim, cycle, and marathon are completely continuous. Furthermore, if you’re serious about ranking high, you don’t stop for anything – and we mean anything, including bathroom breaks!

4. Amateurs take on the same race as the pros

Ironman is one of the only triathlons where amateurs and professionals race side by side. Not only do amateurs and professionals race on the same course, but they also start at pretty much the same time. During an Ironman race, amateurs set off just half an hour behind the pros. Triathletes say that this creates a great atmosphere, where you can find yourself exchanging tips with a world champion in the finishers’ area.

5. You have only 16 hours to finish

British triathlete Tim Don holds the Ironman world record, completing the course in 7 hours, 40 minutes and 23 seconds. Generally speaking, only the most dedicated professional athletes can complete the course in less than 8 hours. On average, most competitors do it in around 12 hours.

6. Just finishing is a huge achievement

ironman distances

Even though many athletes have completed Ironman distances in astonishing times, just finishing the grueling race is a huge achievement. However, don’t think that this means you can take it easy – along the way are checkpoints were officials make sure athletes are keeping up. If you don’t reach the checkpoint within a certain amount of time, an official can take you off the course. Overall, you need to complete the swim in 2 hours 20 minutes, then the cycle within the next 7 hours and 30 minutes. Finally, you need to run across the finish line by the time your total hits 16 hours.

Ironman distances – are you tough enough?

Ironman triathlons take place globally all year round. If you think you have what it takes, then visit the Ironman website to find out if you qualify for a race near you. All that’s left is to start training – which is about 7 miles swimming, 200 miles of cycling and 30 miles of running per week. How hard can it be?

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