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Why is the Lanzarote Ironman one of the Toughest in the World?


With an unusually high athlete dropout rate, the Lanzarote Ironman is considered one of the toughest sports events in the world. Do you dare to compete?



The Lanzarote triathlon is a well known sporting event that has taken place during a weekend in May for the last 30 years. It is one of 37 meets which constitute the Ironman championships. Each meet consists of the same phases: there is a swimming section of 3.8 kilometres, a cycling stage of 180 kilometres, and a race on foot of 42.2 kilometres. These elements are carried out successively, with no interruption between one part and another. The Canary Islands Iron Man is considered one of the most difficult because it is undertaken in an extreme, highly variable landscape with unusual weather conditions. This is an ideal environment for ironman competitors who want to push themselves to the limit. Each year 2000 triathletes compete (half of whom are usually professionals). Overall, once the volunteers that help in the organisation and safety of the event are factored in, the ironman team involves more than 5000 people. 




What follows is a quick run down on the main parts of the Lanzarote Ironman. You might want to read this because you are thinking of taking part in the event yourself. Or you might just be intrigued to know what makes the Lanzarote Ironman such a gruelling physical challenge.   

On your marks. Get set. Go! 


One of the most challenging aspects of the Lanzarote Ironman is the swimming section which begins at 7 am. It is particularly arduous because it takes place in the Atlantic Ocean where they are strong, unpredictable currents. The most accomplished athletes complete the swimming test in about 45 minutes while the great majority clock in a time of between 75 and 90 minutes.  


After the transition, the second race occurs on the back of a bicycle. This stage in the Lanzarote Ironman is known as “the assassin” such is its difficulty. The bike ride leaves from Puerto del Carmen and passes through Tías and El Golfo before riders start on a wearying ascent of 2551 metres towards Mirador del Río, or, in English, the River Viewpoint. This climb takes place on uneven terrain with strong northerly winds. By the time most athletes have reached the vantage point and then returned to Puerto del Carmen, they will have been on their bikes for between 5 and half to eight hours. This is an extreme challenge. 


The finale of the Lanzarote triathlon is a race on foot. The course consists of three laps around the Paseo Marítimo and Avenida de las Playas. The route is flat and has beautiful ocean views. The enemy for most athletes though is the heat. Running for 42.2 kilometres on a hot day with the sun overhead is exhausting, especially after having already completed the swimming and cycling sections of the ironman.  


So, now you know what the Lanzarote Ironman is about, do you dare to compete?