Ironman Wales is one of the toughest Ironman triathlon races out there – here’s what makes it special

Ironman-Wales-Jérémy-Jurkiewicz-2011

Jérémy Jurkiewicz won the first Ironman Wales in 2011

Since it’s launch in 2011, Ironman Wales has become as notorious for its toughness as for its stunning location.

The race begins with a beach start in the popular seaside suntrap of Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast. Race conditions have varied the last three years from relative calm to cresting, churning waves. In fact it was the latter that caused the start of the 3.8km swim to be moved to the North Beach in its inaugural running – which necessitated what has to be the sport’s longest swim exit to transition jog at around a mile through the streets of Tenby. This format caused such a stir that organisers have kept it ever since.

Once finally onto the bike, it’s a tough 180km course with a spiky profile featuring over 2,000m of climbing. The route is made up of two loops, with athletes leaving Tenby to take on the western loop before going on to complete two laps of the larger eastern section, which features the crowd-lined Saundersfoot climb. As well as the technically- and physically-demanding bike, the elements can play havoc too, with winds whipping in from the coast.

The marathon run is a four-lap route out of Tenby and back into through the spectator-packed town where strong support and a fantastic atmosphere urge ironmen and women to complete this most gruelling of races.

The first race in 2011 was won by France’s Jérémy Jurkiewicz in 9:04:21 with Germany’s Kristen Moeller taking the women’s race in 10:01:19. 2012 saw another French victory from Sylvain Rota, who set a new course record of 8:52:43 while Regula Rohrbach of Switzerland also posted a new best time of 9:45:09. 2013 was a British affair, with Scott Neyedli taking the win in 9:09:10 for the men and Lucy Gossage storming around the course in 9:51:21 to take victory.

The race also features 50 age-group qualification slots for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Find out more about the Ironman Wales swim courseIronman Wales bike course and the Ironman Wales run course.

Places are still available for the 2014 edition of Ironman Wales through official charity partner Scope. Find out more here.

To find out more about Ironman Wales, visit Ironman.com