Our top favorite IRONMAN races in the world

For those of you who don’t know, IRONMAN is one of a series of long-distance races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. It consists of a 3.8 km swim, followed by a 180 km bicycle ride, and finishes with a classical 42 km marathon. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting event in the world. To top it off, most races impose a time limit to be completed. Fortunately, there are half-irons with shorter distances to allow newcomers to get acquainted to the race’s intense pace. In any case, saying you need to be in excellent shape to tackle this triathlon remains a blunt understatement. You need to be a warrior to wrestle the beast that is IRONMAN. Still up for the challenge? Here are our favorite IRONMANs in the world, in order of difficulty. Pick yours.



Location: Alcudia, Mallorca

Date: May 7, 2022

Distance: Half-Iron (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 – tough, but not unreasonably so.

Why it’s on our list: A Balearic pearl with a top-class triathlon.

Sunny Mallorca is a staple for triathletes and cyclists seeking somewhere warm and hilly to train, which is why this race has been a global favorite for over a decade. Thanks to IRONMAN’s supervision, the race is organized with military precision. The swim start is a white sand beach in Port D’Alcudia, the bike is one of the series’ rare one-lap affair in the Tramuntana Mountains. It features what some old hands claim to be the best climb in triathlon up to the Lluc monastery. The final run is a fast, flat, three-loop course round Alcudia Bay, with a beachside finish.



Location: Muscat, Oman

Date: around February 2023

Distance: Half-Iron (1.9km, 90km, 21.1km)

Level of difficulty: 3.5/5, mainly due the hilly bike ride and heat

Why it’s on our list: the modern Middle Eastern fusion

The Sultanate of Oman fuses historic Middle Eastern culture with contemporary city life, creating an atypical race. You get a good balance of city, desert, and hills throughout the circuit. The warm clear waters of the Arabian sea provide a non-wetsuit swim overlooking the beautiful suburb of Al Shatti in downtown Muscat. The biking is the most challenging bit with a solid 800 meters of elevation, this is also the point where the heat starts hitting, so think about that cap and don’t forget to hydrate. The finishing running course rewards athletes with Muscat’s most eminent landmarks.



Location: Foreshore Parade, Busselton, Australia

Date: December 4th, 2022

Distance: Iron (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty: 4/5 – flat but tough

Why it’s on our list:  the unparalleled flatness and coastal swim

Never going 29 meters above sea level, Busselton has the flattest routes on the world circuit and attracts those seeking a personal best. The coastal swim off Busselton Jetty is breathtaking, and the residents of this idyllic seaside town pull out at all the stops to make this a unique experience for athletes. This is an ideal event for those wanting to mix their exercise with tourism, as you’ll get to explore one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world, including forest immersion, whale-watching, and wine-tasting. Indeed, Busselton is the gateway to Margaret River, Western Australia’s famous wine region. Cheers!



Location: Kona, Kohala Coast, Hawaii

Date: October 6 & 8, 2022

Distance: Iron (3.8km swim; 180km bike; 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty: 4.5/5 – not a race for beginners. If the 300 meters of elevation don’t scare you, the heat and humidity will.

Why it’s on our list:  it all started here

This course is legendary as it is set in Ironman’s birthplace. It takes athletes through the barren lava fields of the Island of Hawaii, setting for the ultimate test of strength, grit and heart while calling upon athletes to find the spirit of aloha within themselves. Last year’s edition started with a swim off Hapuna Beach, a half-mile of golden sand that is frequently voted among the world’s best beaches (watch out for turtles), the race’s undulating bike course on the northern section of the course alongside the Pacific Ocean is considered tough, before the final run from the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. Expect hills, heat, and humidity, but most of all expect a warm welcome and a beautiful race on an island of volcanoes, rainforests, and endless beaches. Magical.



Location: Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Austria

Date: July 3rd, 2022

Distance: Iron (3.8km swim; 180km bike; 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty: 4.5/5 – we’re talking 1600 meters elevation gain with steep and technical descents.

Why it’s on our list:  the crystal lakes surrounded by Alpine mountains

Known as one of the most beautiful races in the world, IRONMAN Austria-Kärnten is a favorite among athletes. The experience starts with a scenic swim in the Wörthersee lake, followed by biking through the picturesque villages and pristine countryside of the green heart of Carinthia, and culminates in a cauldron-like finish line in Klagenfurt’s old-town. This is triathlon at its purest. Don’t let the eternal snow over the mountains fool you, it gets hot at this time of the year. Sunscreen is your friend.



Location: Nice, France

Date: June 26, 2022

Distance: Iron (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty:  5/5 – tough due to its 2,000m of elevation gain

Why it’s on our list: the picturesque villages overlooking the French Riviera

Nestled between the sea and mountains, Nice offers athletes the best of the Côte d’Azur. It is also one of the most iconic locations in the history of French triathlon.

The race begins with a two-loop swim from Plage des Ponchettes and finishes with a fast four-loop run course on the emblematic Promenade des Anglais. In between, the 180K bike course is the jewel of the event, following most of the original Nice Triathlon route and passing through beautiful traditional villages and majestic mountains. It’s also the tough bit with over 2,000m of elevation gain. As they say: no pain, no gain.



Location: Penticton, British Columbia

Date: August 28, 2022

Distance: Iron-(3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty: 5/5 – one of the toughest IRONMAN-branded race

Why it’s on our list: the vast untouched landscapes.

After seven years away in Whistler, the first North American IRONMAN is back to its original 1983 home of Penticton, one of the world’s two only cities situated on two lakes: Okanagan and Skaha lakes. It is one of the toughest IRONMAN-branded races, offering a mix of British Columbia’s breathtaking big-country scenery and a deep sense of achievement.

The swim is in the southern end of the Okanagan Lake is followed by a rare single-loop bike course that takes in the stunning local wine country (Canadian wine, we’re not kidding you). The bike ride is notorious for its 11km Richter Pass climb followed by seven kilometers of downhill screamers. The ending marathon takes place in the festive atmosphere of Penticton and the surrounding region, over some of the same route as the historical course.



Location: Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Date: March 19, 2022

Distance: Iron (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run)

Level of difficulty: 5/5 – toughest IRONMAN with over 2,500m of climbing and strong winds

Why it’s on our list: its trippy Unesco biosphere reserve

With its ocean swim and barren hilly bike route, Ironman Lanzarote is one of the longest-standing races in Europe. A Unesco biosphere reserve, Lanzarote offers a captivating landscape that is starkly beautiful – reminiscent of the black lava fields of Kona.

The race features a two-lap swim course that takes place at Playa Grande, Puerto del Carmen. The race’s 2,500m of bike climb, is made even tougher by the island’s infamous sturdy winds. The race then finishes with a run course that leads the triathletes along the seafront of Puerto del Carmen, up to Arrecife and back, and then to Matagorda and back. Achieving the beast that is this race is the epitome of turning yourself to titanium, of becoming the IRONMAN.


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