Ironman-distance triathlons: the 10 best European Irons for beginners
Which Iron-distance triathlons are best for first timers? A long-distance triathlon is never easy but there are some that are more beginner-friendly than others. Here we pick our top 10 European iron-distance triathlons suitable for newcomers to 226km racing…
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6. TRIATHLON VITORIA-GASTEIZ, Vitoria Gasteiz, Northern Spain: beginner score 74/100
For a country with nearly 5,000km of coastline, long-distance races in mainland Spain are fairly race. Yet the Triathlon Vitoria-Gasteiz celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 and regularly draws thousands of European triathletes to northern Spain for its full and half iron races.
And what a beauty it is, with picture postcard rolling hills, a medieval city centre marathon and some of the greatest food and (post-race, of course!) wine in the nation.
The race starts with a two-lap swim (with an Aussie exit halfway through) in the calm waters of the Ullibarri-Gamboa lake before the gently rolling bike takes in the Alava plains. The flat marathon run boasts four laps around the old town of Vitoria-Gasteiz and features raucous support to boost those flagging minds and bodies.
The northern weather can frequently be wet in summertime and temperatures don’t usually reach the frying pan highs of Seville and co. in the south of the country, but temperatures have reached the mid-30s during the race on occasions.
Another potential issue for beginners is the 16hr cut-off time, as opposed to the usual 17hr one for long-distance races, which leaves little margin for error. (The cut-off was in-fact 15:20hr in 2016 and that may well explain a relatively high DNF rate that saw 153 of the 755 full athletes posting DNFs in 2016.) You’ll get a rare mini iron lie-in, though, with an 8am iron start…