Top 5 Hardcore Triathlons

Triathlon Events

Top 5 Hardcore Triathlons

The world’s toughest ironman events that you might want to set your sights on one day.

The world’s toughest ironman events that you might want to set your sights on one day.

The triathlon is tough enough, but some athletes just like to push themselves that bit further. Here are five of the toughest triathlon/ironman events around the world for you hardcore triathletes for whom easy just isn’t an option. Of course, if you think you know of tougher events, or even better, have actually completed in some of them, be sure to let us know…


SavageMan Triathlon

When: September

Where: Deep Creek Lake State Park, Maryland, USA

Distance: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.1-mile run

WebsiteSavageMan Triathlon

The appropriately named SavageMan 70.0 is part of the SavageMan Triathlon Festival and is an extraordinarily challenging course rapidly gaining legendary status. It’s the cycle leg that really make this race tough, with a course that climbs 5,800ft (1,768m) primarily in the middle 30 miles (48km) of the 56 miles (90km) bike course and seven climbs with inclines in excess of 15 per cent.

The toughest of all is the Westernport Wall, which is so hardcore (31 per cent incline) there’s even an opportunity to be permanently immortalised – all athletes who make it up the Westernport Wall cleanly have a personalised brick engraved with their name laid into the Wall. You can avoid this section by going in for the Savageman 30.0, which is less savage but still tough enough to allow you to earn your SavageMan pedigree.


Ironman Lanzarote

When: May

Where: Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Distance: 2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike/26.2-mile run

Website: Ironman Lanzarote

Ironman Lanzarote has sold itself as the ‘The World's Toughest Ironman’ for years and it’s hard to argue with that. The swim takes place in the beautiful Puerto del Carmen but after that it’s the gruelling bike course which marks this race out from all others. It’s the wind, steady climbs and at times bone-shaking road surfaces that make this leg a grueller. Among the difficult climbs are the Fire Mountains and ascents up Mirador de Haria and Mirador del Rio.

After the legs have been battered by the cycle and the wind, athletes (if they’ve made it in time before the cut off point for the next transition) then have the marathon leg, which although relatively flat, is pretty difficult when your legs have been on the grueller in the saddle and you are faced with winds coming at you seemingly from all directions.


Alpe d’Huez Long Course Triathlon

When: July

Where: Alpe d’Huez, France

Distance: 2.2km swim/115km bike/20km run

Website: Alpe d’Huez Long Course Triathlon 

This event includes bike sections which are usually included in the Tour de France, so it gives triathletes the ultimate test of their cycling abilities. Starting with a 2.2km (1.3 mile) loop swim in Lac du Verney, which is accessible to swimmers only during the event, competitors then move onto the 115km (71 mile) cycle. Here they’ll face legendary mountains and get the chance to follow in the pedal trail of cycling legends.

There’s two great mountain passes – the Alpe du Grand Serre at 1375m (4511ft) and the Col d’Ornon, 1371m (4498ft) – as well as the bendy climb to the ascent of Alpe d’Huez, which is one of the most noted climbs of Le Tour. The run takes place within the resort of Alpe d’Huez on a mix of asphalted roads and mountain paths, and consists of three 7.3km (4.5 mile) loops, so hopefully you’ve got something left in the legs after proving you are King of the Mountains.


Ironman Kona, Hawaii

When: October

Where: Kona, Hawaii

Distance: 2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/ 26.2 mile run

WebsiteIronman Kona, Hawaii

Just being able to line up in this event proves that you are hardcore or very lucky - after all this is the Ironman World Championship. Only a select few get a spot through the qualifying events held around the world, while a few lucky ones get the chance to race alongside the world’s best by getting in through a lottery. Only 1,800 make it to the start line each year.

Kona is the pinnacle that any triathlete will be aiming to compete in one day. There’s the 2.4-mile (3.8km) swim in Kailua Bay; a 112-mile(180km) wind-battered bike ride along the west coast of the island; and a flat and very hot marathon through the lava covered terrain – all of which adds up to one hell of a test of endurance, mental strength and your ability to be a true ironman.


American Triple-T, Ohio

When: May

Where: Shawnee State Park, Portsmouth, Ohio

Distance: 140 miles over 3 days. Day One: 250m swim/5 mile bike/ 1 mile run; Day Two: Olympic-distance triathlon (morning) 1500m Swim/24.8 mile bike/6.55 mile run and then Olympic-distance triathlon (afternoon) 24.8 mile bike/ 1500m swim/6.55 mile run; Day 3: Half iron-distance triathlon 1.2 mi Swim/55.5 mile bike/ 13.1 mile run.

WebsiteAmerican Triple-T, Ohio

No race is quite like the American Triple-T which is a multi-stage event held over three days and pushes its competitors through four triathlons totalling 140 miles (225km). This isn’t a race for beginners, although you can take the easier option and go in for the two-person team event if it’s too hardcore for you to go solo.

The field size is limited to just 500 so you have to be quick off the mark to get a place. The Supersprint event on day one is just a warm-up for what’s to come later, so be sure to pace yourself and leave something in the tank, especially the bike run on day two on the infamous route 125. To finish is the half ironman when you’ll really have put your body through it. Most solo participants consider the American Triple-T harder to finish than an ironman, so see if they are right.

Picture credit - Pavel Burchenko /