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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…

5. IRONMAN UK, Bolton, Greater Manchester: beginner score 73/100

If you’re looking for an official British Ironman event to start your long-course career, then the long-standing Ironman UK is far more manageable than the sea swim and epic bike course of Ironman Wales, which we named the 9th toughest iron-distance triathlon in the world.

Ironman UK - course tips and everything you need to know

“The locality and calm lake swim make it an ideal first-time choice,” says Janine Doggett, who finished 1,169th place out of 2,000 athletes in 2015 with a 14:34:27 finish time. “Pennington Flash offers swimming every Saturday morning so you can visit in the weeks leading up to the big day. And on race day getting to the start is straightforward.”

The two-lap swim, which offers the chance of a breather on land after the first lap, is another boon for iron beginners and weaker swimmers. But it’s the bike course that’ll truly challenge newbies and anyone whose bike leg is their weakest discipline.

The two-lap 180km course goes through some beautiful Lancashire countryside, but the 1,641m of total ascent puts it at the higher end of official Ironman bike legs, with the 3km Sheep House Lane climb the star of the show.

“Some sections are spookily quiet,” adds Doggett, “but there’s some sensational sporadic support en route; be prepared to see locals sporting some outrageous outfits!

“The run finds a 10km point-to-point route before you begin the lapped 8km course, which you have to complete four times to make it up to the full marathon. It’s mostly flat but the laps are mentally challenging and, as it’s in a built-up area, there aren’t many nice views. The aid stations every 4km offer banana halves, sugary drinks and a bucketload of cheers before the finisher funnel will feel like an old inflatable friend by the time you eventually run through!”

Continue reading our guide to the 10 most beginner-friendly irons in Europe (5/8)


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I'd like to correct a factual innacuracy in number 10. Ireland also has the Hard Man long distance Tri. It's held in Killarney and includes a swim in one of the famous lakes, the cycle is the wonderful Ring of Kerry and it's rounded out by a few laps of Killarney National Park, yet another stunner of a location. It's well priced and has been the national long distance championship in the past and will be again in 2018.
I don't get commission but having participated in the past, I have to say this is a massive oversight.

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