What is an Ironman?
An Ironman event is one of the most popular and important series of long-distance triathlon races. The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is the official institution for organizing and managing Ironman events.
Initially, the idea for creating the Ironman competition started out as a challenge between a Navy SEALs team who argued about whether swimming or running was the most physically challenging and demanding sport.
An Ironman consists of a 3.86 km (2.4 miles) swim, a 180.25 km (112 miles) bike and a third 42.2 km (26.22 miles) marathon run. Every segment of an Ironman race occurs in this exact order. There is no break in between them.
The length and the continuity of the races are part of the reason why Ironman is considered to be the most challenging triathlon sporting event. Not only are the physical demands relatively extreme, most Ironman races also have time limits. They usually have to end in less than 17 hours. Every Ironman race typically stars early in the morning (around 7am).
If you are able to complete the whole race in less than the given time, then you are considered to be an Ironman. This grade places you at a higher level than a regular triathlete.
There are other races designed to include the same distances and segments of a regular Ironman race. The World Triathlon Corporation however doesn't own, produce, or license these events.
Every time you hear someone say “Ironman Triathlon”, you can be sure this term is directly associated with the original Ironman Triathlon race. This Ironman triathlon is now known as the Ironman World Championship which has been taking place annually at different locations worldwide since 1978. This was the year when Californian professional triathletes Judy and John Collins decided to organize the first endurance triathlon competition in Hawaii.
Competing in the championship is the privilege awarded to triathletes as the final stage of the Ironman series of qualifying events.
2005 was that the year that the World Triathlon Corporation decided to institute the popular Ironman race named Ironman 70.3. This race contains shorter courses and is also known as a Half Ironman. It consists of a 1.9 km swim (1.2 miles), 90 km bike (56 miles), and 21.1 km run (13.1 miles).
Just like the main Ironman race, the shorter version, Ironman 70.3, consists of a number of qualifying events. They all take place in different locations around the world along with the Ironman qualifying series.
Every professional triathlete has the chance to participate in up to three 70.3 races. They can then use them for accumulating the necessary accumulated points for their championship qualifying ranking.
While the Hawaii Ironman race is the father of them all, the truth is, every Ironman qualifying series (which consists of 28 events), has the same weight towards the final goal which is the Ford Ironman World Championship, that takes place every October in Kona, Hawaii. Five of the 28 events these series have, are Ironman 70.3 races.
In the past there were many cases where amateur athletes used these Ironman 70.3 events to qualify for the full Ironman World Championships. Since 2015 however this is no longer possible. Amateur athletes are no longer able to use these races as an avenue to qualify for the main Ironman Championships.
70.3 races are ideal for triathletes who want to challenge themselves through an Ironman completion. If they are not sure whether their physical state can handle it, then they should consider doing the Ironman 70.3 series as a great, less intense and demanding Ironman event that has the power to prepare them for the main event. Did you know the Ironman 70.3 series is statistically the fastest growing triathlon series in the world?
What comes after the main Ironman event?
Everyone who has mastered the Ironman distance and race can easily consider doing the Hyperman. This is a race that is three times the Ironman distance. Triathletes should complete it in less than three days.
Do you feel stronger than that? Don’t worry, you can then consider doing a Decatriathlon. This race is 10 times the Ironman distance and triathletes should complete it in less than 18 days.