What is an Ironman?

We've all heard of Ironman, but what exactly is it? Here are the distances, race format and what exactly you will need to do to complete an Ironman.

What is an Ironman?

An Ironman is a long-distance triathlon race organised by the Ironman franchise. The term ‘Ironman’ has now become synonymous with races of this distance. A full Ironman has the following format: 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run.

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Ironman race format

The first leg is an open water swim in the sea or a lake, wetsuits must be worn unless the water temperature is above 24.5c. Athletes will run from the water to the transition area (T1) where they will don their bike gear and jump on the bike for the ride. Then, after preparing for the run in T2, the athletes will set out on a marathon for the final leg of the Ironman.

Not for the faint-hearted, an Ironman is widely considered to be the gold standard of endurance triathlon racing. Ironman is a household name across the globe, popular event locations include the famously hilly welsh Tenby, Lanzarote, Hamburg, Taiwan, Morocco… you name it.

What is a half Ironman?

An Ironman 70.3 is half the distance of a full Ironman and ideal for those not quite ready for the challenge of a full. Popular British 70.3s include IM Weymouth, Staffordshire and UK. Top finishers of each event will qualify for the 70.3 World Championship which will take place in Utah for 2021 and Taupo, NZ for 2022. The full Ironman World Championship is always in Kona, Hawaii; the birthplace of the Ironman.

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Interested in taking on an Ironman or half but not sure where to start? We’ve got you sorted, check out our training pages for all our top gear, nutrition and injury prevention tips!