Ironman 70.3 UK made its debut in 2006 and has since become one of the most iconic races in the world.
The popularity of M-Dot events has skyrocketed over the last couple of years, and entries sell out quicker than tickets for Justin Bieber concerts. Ironman 70.3 UK is no exception. It’s not the beautiful Exmoor countryside that gets people flocking to sign up, however – it’s the unique course. Described as the toughest half Ironman race in the world by triathlon legend and two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack, Wimbleball attracts over 2,000 hardcore athletes/pain-loving masochists every year.
Apart from the flying limbs of other competitors, there isn’t too much to worry about with the swim, which is the easiest part of the day. Taking place in the crystal clear waters of Wimbleball Lake, this section of the race tends to fly by in a relatively pain-free blur.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the bike section, and it’s here where the race organisers really put the boot in. The 56-mile two-lap course includes nearly 2,000m of climbing and is an energy-sapping, leg-burning, rollercoaster ride. It’s not uncommon to see even some of the fittest athletes pushing their beloved two-wheeled machines up the hills as the pain of lactic acid becomes too much to bear.
Once off the bike, there’s just the 13-mile run to tackle – but this is as far from pancake-flat as you can get. The course is ‘undulating’ for the most part but includes one monster hill to climb and descend on each of the four laps.
The morning of any race day is stressful, but with a course as brutal as this, it’s important that you get plenty of sleep the night before. The isolated location means that accommodation isn’t that easy to find so race organisers have teamed up with the local campsite to give competitors a place to stay at a bargain price compared to the hotels and B&Bs nearby. Plus not only do you get to feel part of the buzzing race village with its festival atmosphere, you also don’t have to fight with other competitors travelling to the venue on race day, all desperately trying to get down the one-lane track at 4am.
Ironman 70.3 UK is one of the world’s greatest and most iconic triathlon events; its middle-of-nowhere location, crazy ascents, friendly atmosphere and amazing crowds all add up to make this one of the best races you’ll ever do.
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