Guide to Intense Ironman Triathlons

Athletes travel the world to swim, bike and run in the biggest Ironman triathlons around the world, including Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI. Get the scoop on a few Ironman race courses.

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Ironman World Championship Kona

The Ironman World Championship is the ultimate test of mind, body and spirit. Only the best triathletes converge on Kailua-Kona, HI, to embark on this 146.6-mile journey. Officially, there are 63 half-Ironman triathlons and 31 full-Ironman triathlons held around the world -- the biggest competitions are the Ironman World Championship, Ironman European Champion, Ironman US Championship and Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship.

Ironman Lake Tahoe

In California, Lake Tahoe’s Ironman competition begins with a 2-loop swim at historic Kings Beach. Athletes hop on their bikes and then finish competition with a run along one of the most scenic stretches in the world.

Ironman New Zealand

Head to Taupo, a 45-minute flight or an easy 3 to 4 hour drive from Auckland, New Zealand. This Ironman competition attracts international athletes from more than 35 countries. Taupo has become an increasingly popular venue for sporting events because of the town’s compact size, clean environment, central location and friendly community.

Ironman UK

In the summer, hundreds of athletes head to Bolton, England, to challenge themselves in the Ironman UK. Triathletes must embark on a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and run 26.2 miles to the finish line. In case you didn’t know, Bolton is located 10 miles northwest of Manchester.

Ironman 70.3 Panama

Before running 13.1 miles through the Panama City’s Amador Causeway, triathletes must swim 1.2 miles in the Pacific Ocean -- at the entrance to the Panama Canal -- and bike 56 miles, crossing the Bridge of the Americas en route to the Pan-American Highway.

Ironman Lake Placid

Ironman Lake Placid is the 2nd oldest Ironman competition in North America. It’s usually held mid-summer in the Olympic Village of Lake Placid, NY, where more than 20,000 people converge on the town. Athletes take a 2.4-mile swim in Mirror Lake, a challenging 112-mile bike ride through the Adirondacks Mountains and a 26.2-mile run, circling the downtown area 4 times.

Ironman Melbourne

The Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne -- the sporting capital of Australia -- is usually held in March. With the spectacular city as the backdrop, athletes take a 2.4-mile swim in Frankston, a 117-mile bike ride on the EastLink Tollway and a 26-mile run along Port Philip Bay to finish the grueling challenge.

Ironman 70.3 Racine

If a full Ironman is too much, then head to Racine, WI -- located 30 miles south of Milwaukee -- to participate in the half Ironman. Triathletes must swim 1.2-mile along North Beach in Lake Michigan, bike 56 miles through the rolling countryside of Racine County and run 13.1 miles through the Zoo and surrounding Lake Michigan coastline.

Ironman Los Cabos

Los Cabos -- located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico -- is known as a great place to relax and unwind, but on March 17, 2013, athletes will converge on the resort town for its first Ironman competition. Nearly 1,500 participants from more than 50 countries are expected for the inaugural event. The course will include a swim in the Sea of Cortes, and then a bike ride and run along a 20-mile corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

Ironman Wisconsin

In Madison, WI, more than 45,000 spectators line the Ironman course through Wisconsin farm land and the downtown streets of state capital. The finish line is the most recognizable of all the US Ironman events; it is located in front of the Wisconsin state capitol in the heart of Madison.

Ironman Cozumel

Cozumel -- located in Quintana Roo, Mexico -- is often a port of call for many cruise lines, but this fun travel destination is also host to the Ironman Cozumel and Ironman 70.3 Cozumel. Like many Ironman competitions, the Cozumel Ironman awards a predetermined number of slots that will allow athletes to participate in the “granddaddy” of all Ironman challenges, the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI.

Ironman Arizona

Ironman Arizona, set in Tempe, begins with a swim in the Tempe Town Lake, followed by a challenging 3-loop bike course through the Sonoran Desert and then competition wraps up with a spectator-friendly run around Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Welcome to Coeur d’Alene, the 2nd largest metropolitan area in Idaho. While wiping the sweat from their brow, athletes take a dip in beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene and a become eyewitnesses to spectacular views of rural northern Idaho by bike and on foot.

Ironman Louisville

In August, the Ironman Louisville, KY, takes triathletes on a course through some of the city’s most scenic areas, including Waterfront Park, Oldham and Henry Counties and the city of LaGrange. Their journey ends with a finish line celebration at Fourth Street Live, an exciting entertainment and retail district in downtown Louisville.

Ironman Western Australia

Busselton -- a 2.5-hour drive from Perth, Australia -- hosts 2 Ironman competitions, Ironman 70.3 Busselton and Ironman Western Australia. Ironman 70.3 Busselton is held in October as part of a big festival, which includes the Kids Triathlon. Ironman Western Australia is held in December, when athletes swim Busselton Jetty, bike through Tuart Forest and run along Geographe Bay and through the heart of Busselton Township.

Ironman Switzerland

More than 2,000 athletes compete in the waters of Lake Zurich during the swimming leg of the Ironman Switzerland Triathlon in Zurich. In the 2nd leg of the race participants hit a challenging bike course with a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps before ending the competition with a run on the shore of the lake.

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