Ironman-distance triathlons: the 7 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 seven European iron-distance triathlons suitable for newcomers to 226km racing…
7. THE MIDNIGHT MAN, Dartford, Kent: beginner score 71/100
With a warm lake swim combining with flat bike and run courses, the Midnight Man, on paper, is the ideal beginner iron-distance course.
The big twist is that, as the name suggests, the organisers have thrown a night event into the mix, which adds an added layer of difficulty to proceedings. On the plus side, it’s ideal for night owls, is the cheapest iron-distance around (just £160) and avoids a painfully early start, and athletes will escape any scorching sun and humidity…
So how do you race in the dark of Dartford? “Take kit for all temperatures,” states Dave Clamp, the UK ultra triathlon legend who finished second at the Midnight Man in 2012. “It can be hot in the evening, but that can change by 3am and you’ll feel it if you’re down to walking pace on the run.
“Doing the marathon at night can be pleasant, though, compared to suffering in the heat at many summer daytime Ironman races. One factor is that you’ll be swimming when the sun is getting low, so sighting is difficult.” The swim is two laps (but with no Aussie exit after lap one) in inviting and calm 21ºC waters.
“Cycling in the dark feels quite strange because you have the sensation of moving faster than you really are,” adds Clamp. “Use a powerful front lamp and make sure that it’s very firmly fastened on.
“Like the bike, the run is fairly flat so fast times can be recorded here. But be prepared for bigger potential changes in temperature than on a normal daytime Ironman. You can get quite cold in the night if you start walking.”