Toughest Ironman In The World – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide

The most difficult Ironman’s in the world even have some of the most beautiful landscapes. It’s no surprise though given that the routes often include steep climbs, wind, and high temperatures. But what is the toughest Ironman in the world?

In this article, we look at the top 5 toughest Ironman courses in 2021. These events are based on the course profile and other factors such as wind and temperature that make the race much harder than your typical Ironman course.

Top 5 Toughest Ironman

Top 5 Toughest Ironman – UPDATED 2021

Despite being one of the hardest events to qualify for, the Ironman World Championship is actually not one of the toughest Ironmans to compete in. While it may have some of the most challenging race conditions, there are more difficult events on the calendar. Here are the Top 5 toughest Ironman events that will push you to the limit.

Ironman Lanzarote

One of the longest-standing races in Europe, Ironman Lanzarote challenges participants with over 2,500m of climbing and notably strong winds.

The event starts with a two-lap ocean swim that takes place at Playa Grande, Puerto del Carmen. Competitors then head out on the bike to cover the 180km distance. The bike course is notoriously hard putting athletes to the test with more than 2500m of climbing. That’s not all, the barren landscape offers little to no protection from the strong winds that often hit the island. this makes it an extremely hard bike course that pushes even the professionals to their knees.

If you manage to get through the bike course unscathed, the race then finishes with a 42.2km run that follows the Puerto del Carmen seafront. The first long lap of the run course takes athletes up to Playa Honda before the final two laps to Matagorda before turning.

While the Ironman Lanzarote run course isn’t the most difficult run course in Ironman, the fatigue from the bike and the increasingly hot temperatures often takes a toll on the athletes in the final 20km of the marathon.

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Because of the tough bike course, high winds, and sometimes extreme temperatures, Ironman Lanzarote makes it into our top 5 toughest Ironman events in the World.

Check out our Ironman bike training plan that can help you improve your power on the bike!

Ironman Wales

Starting in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Ironman Wales is another event that challenges competitors with its unforgiving bike course. However, unlike Lanzarote, the run course is slightly harder with more than 400m of elevation gain
The bike route includes more than 2,000m of climbing while taking athletes past numerous castles and iconic landmarks. While the bike course is one of the most scenic courses around, athletes won’t have a chance to take in the scenery along the way, as the coastal wind and rain often play havoc during the event.

If the bike course isn’t hard enough, you can expect the run to really test your strength and determination. The four-loop 26.2 mile (42.2 km) run course ascends over 400m of elevation gain. This tests the competitor’s fitness, courage, and mental ability after the bike.

However, it’s not all bad as the run course passes medieval town walls and a picturesque beachfront, keeping you somewhat motivated along the way.

Often held during wet and windy conditions, Ironman Wales is another Ironman that gets into our top 5 toughest Ironman events on the calendar.

Ironman Canada

Often ranked the 3rd toughest Ironman in the world, Ironman Canada offers a challenging bike-run course and tough weather conditions for competitors.

Starting with a beautiful swim that takes place in Lake Okanagan, athletes then embark on the single loop bike course that takes them up Richter Pass and Yellow Lake before doing an out-and-back section down White Lake Rd before heading back to Penticton.

While the bike course doesn’t have as much elevation (1,887 m) as Lanzarote or Wales, the elevation still puts athletes to the test before heading out on the run.

The new run course offers athletes stunning views of vineyards and orchards while thousands of spectators line the streets in the town.

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Once you are off the bike, you will start with an out and back rolling section along the scenic Kettle Valley Trail before beginning a two-loop course in the town. The run course challenges the athlete with 238m of elevation gain making sure there is nothing left in the legs when you finish.

Ironman France

A historic race set in the heart of France (Nice), Ironman France starts with a two-loop, 3.8k swim in the Mediterranean Sea before heading out on the bike.

Like the past 3 toughest Ironman events, Ironman France is no different. The bike course challenges athletes with more than 2,000m of elevation gain throughout the 180k distance.

Just like Ironman Canada, Ironman France sets athletes off after the bike along a rolling run course along the legendary Promenade des Anglais. Athletes must be prepared as the temperatures tend to rise as you head out towards the Nice Airport.

Overall the tough bike course and undulating and hot run make Ironman France one of the hardest Ironmans in the world.

Ironman Hawaii

Last but not least is the legendary Kona Ironman, or widely known as the Ironman World Championships. Even though this event doesn’t have the hardest course, the weather conditions play a massive role in the outcome of the race. Hot temperatures out on the lava fields and strong winds usually put athletes to the test, while the mental stress of competing in a World Championships often takes its toll on athletes too.

Hardest Triathlons – What You Should Know?

If you have read our top 5 toughest Ironman courses you may notice something in common. Nearly all of these events climb more than 2000m on the bike. So if you’re looking to compete in any of the above events, you must develop strong fitness on the bike.

Developing your fitness on the bike can not only help you complete these events but help you run much stronger off the bike. With courses such as Lanzarote, France, and Wales it is important not to use up too much energy on the bike course otherwise you will really struggle on the run, no matter how strong your running is.

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If you are looking to tackle any one of these events, SportCoaching helps develop custom-made training plans catered to any event and any discipline. So, if you are looking to improve on your bike fitness for Ironman Lanzarote for example, we can produce a cycling training plan that caters to the event, while being designed to fit around your run and swimming training. Alternatively, we also provide monthly triathlon coaching services based on your lifestyle, fitness, and goals.

Biggest Triathlon In The World

Biggest Triathlon In The World

If challenging yourself over some of the toughest Ironman’s in the world isn’t something that motivates you, what about the biggest triathlon in the World?

The Noosa triathlon multisport festival is held in Noosa, Queensland, Australia every year. Bringing more than 8000 competitors together to compete over the Olympic triathlon distance.

The event caters to a wide range of levels and brings the triathlon community together as a whole. Whether your a novice or experienced Ironman athlete, the Noosa triathlon multisport festival is a great addition to your race calendar. It can also be used as a build-up to some of the toughest Ironman’s in the World

Toughest Half Ironman

Toughest Half Ironman (70.3) Races

If you are limited on time or don’t have the current fitness level to tackle any of the above Ironman events, how about entering one of the world’s toughest half Ironman races (70.3) instead?

Below are some of the toughest 70.3 Ironman events on the calendar to put you to the test.

– IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga
– IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii
– IRONMAN 70.3 Lubbock
– IRONMAN 70.3 Mont Tremblant
– IRONMAN 70.3 Musselman

All the above events challenge athletes over both a rolling bike and run course. While there are many other events on the calendar with a harder bike or run course, these above events challenge you both on the run and bike.

If all these events put shivers down your spine, check out our post on the easiest Ironman events instead!

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