The Brutal © Babs Boardwell

Iron-distance races: the 11 toughest

Make no mistake all 11 of these Ironman distance triathlons are tough and not for the faint-hearted, but which is the toughest long-distance race of all? We crunch some stats to find out...

02) The Brutal, Snowdonia: Tough Score 88/10

Extremely cruel or harsh. Very bad or unpleasant. Harsh, burdensome, cruel, excruciating, grim, hard, rugged. The Merriam-Webster dictionary pulls no punches in its definition of ‘Brutal’ and its synonyms. And neither do the Brutal race organisers...

Launched in 2012 by ultra athlete Claire Smith, the Brutal is known for its low-key feel and friendliness. And yet there’s nothing welcoming about the course, which submerges athletes in the chilly Lake Padarn for 3.8km before subjecting them to over 3,000m of climbing on the 180km Snowdonian bike leg. The 1,394m of climbing on the run keeps the pain a coming, and all of this without a support crew, with athletes isolated throughout.

“The results say it all,” says the Lincolnshire Iron legend Anthony Gerundini who’s raced 108 Ironmans. “The Brutal winner’s time in 2015 was 12:22hrs with no support, 30mins slower than the Celtman’s supported winner. The full 3.8km swim has the potential to be damn cold and choppy, the bike stats tell you how hard it is and the run throws everything at you. Quite simply, it’s a true extreme triathlon.” 


Continue reading our guide to the 11 toughest irons and the winner (11/11)


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You've missed Swissman,

Arguably harder than Norseman at the least.


There's probably a typo for the Lanza swim temp. 29C is far from reality! Maybe 19C at best.


Don't forget the new one on the other side of the pond, Project DM


Take a look at /

That's a new tough one.


Agree wietcth TuckandGo with Swissman. And what about Altriman, Stonemanx Xtri (ambleside).... etc

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