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The toughest Ironman in Europe

We have compiled the hardest 10 Triathlons in the European continent in IRONMAN distance


Altriman Triathlon

  • The venue : Les Angles (France)
  • Swimming: 3,8km on the lake of Matemale
  • Biking: 195 (Elevation 5.000m)
  • Race on foot: 42,2 km (+ elevation 700m)

The triathletes start the competition at 5:30 in the morning at the Matemale lake where they perform the 3,8km and then face what is possibly the hardest cycling segment of all ironmans.

The first port is Col de la Quillane, followed by Col de la Llose, Col de Creu, Port de Pailhères, Col de la Chioula, Col de Garavel, and Col des Hares until returning to Angles where the marathon around the lake begins from Matemale where the first 10km are run.

Later Angles is crossed and the ascent begins until km 23 in the direction of the Vallsera lake where the turning point is located. After finishing the descent, the last 13km also run around the Matemale lake.



La swimming takes place in Lake Montriond, in the French town of the same name. Then the triathletes face a very hard cycling sector with almost 5000 meters of unevenness worthy of a mythical mountain stage of the Tour de France with the ports of the Col de Joux Plane, Côte de Morillon Les Esserts, Col de Romme, Col de la Colombière, Col des Aravis and Côte de Vaudagne (Les Houches) huntil reaching the famous Alpine village of Chamonix where the T2 is located.

There starts a tough marathon with more than 2500m of unevenness through winding green trails on both sides of the Chamonix valley through Flégère, Brevent, Montenvers and Pla de l'Aiguille.

Photo: Facebook EverGreen



  • Location: Livigno (Italy)
  • Information:
  • Swimming: 4km on the Lake of Livigno
  • Cycling: 195km (+ elevation 4.900m)
  • Race on foot: 42,2 km (+ elevation 2.500m)

The competition begins with 3,8km in in Lake of Livigno with water at a temperature of around 16ºC. Then the triathletes face a extremely hard 195km cycling segment with almost 5000 meters of elevation gain, first one ascends of the port of Forcola of 2315m, later the race goes in in Switzerland to go up the pass of Bernina to 2323m, lowers towards Saint Moritz and ascends the port of Fuorn of 2149m.

Then the triathletes return to Italy ascending the mythical 48 curves of the Passo Stelvio whose summit is at 2757m, after a long descent you reach Bormio and ascend the Foscagno pass of 2291m and descend to Trepelle Livigno where T2 is.

From there the marathon begins, first they are 8km of descent towards Livigno, then a loop of 25km is made around this town to finish with 9km of ascent where they are saved 1100m until arriving at the goal line located at 3000m of altitude.

Photo: Facebook Livigno



The departure of the swimming takes place at 4:00 am from a boat in Lake Iseo and the island of Loreto is surrounded until reaching Marone where T1 is. Later the triathletes start the 180km of the very hard cycling sector that includes some of the mythical ports of the Giro d'Italia such as Aprica, Mortirolo and Gavia.

The T2 is located in Ponte di Legno, there the triathletes first make a 25km around the town to finish with a 17km climb crowning first the Passo Tonale and then the Passo Paradisso to end next to Lake Monticello at 2500m altitude.


SWISSMAN Triathlon

  • Place: Ascona and Brienz (Switzerland)
  • Swimming: 3,8km on Lake Maggiore
  • Cycling: 180km (+ slope 4.000m)
  • Running on foot: 42,2 km (+ 1400m of vertical drop)

Swimming is done at Lake Maggiore, the cycling sector starts from Ascona and along the 180km where competitors must ascend 3 ports over 2000m the Gotthard Pass, the Furka Pass (roof of the race with 2436m) and the Grimsel Pass. In total they are more than 4000m of positive height difference until arriving at the town of Brienz, where the marathon begins.

Brienz is at an altitude of 567m and the goal of the Swissman is located in Kleine Scheidegg at more than 2000m altitude, so in the walking segment the triathletes save more than 1400m of positive elevation.

Photo: Facebook Suixtri



  • Place: Saint-Joriz (France)
  • Information:
  • Swimming: 3,8 km on Lake Annecy
  • Cycling: 183 km (+ elevation 4.000m)
  • Race on foot: 42 km (+ elevation 1,300m)

Swimming takes place in Lake AnnecyTrials are launched from a boat located in the center of the lake to cover 3,8km until reaching Saint-Joriz where T1 is located. Later the cycling sector begins in the Bauges area with several mountain passes where it stands out Semnoz special category.

In total there are 183km until we reach Saint-Joriz again, then the marathon is divided into two parts, a flat 27km around Lake Annecy and a 15km hard climb to the Crêt de Chêtillon where the goal is located at 1600m of altitude.

Photo: Trimax Magazine


Embroider Triathlon

  • Place: Embrun (France)
  • Swimming: 3,8km on Embrun Lake
  • Biking: 188km (+ 3.800 elevation meters)
  • Race on foot: 42,2 km (+ 1.200m difference)

The Embrunman is the best known and most important ironman of those who do not belong to any of the two great franchises (Challenge and Ironman), it has more than 30 years of history, practically keeping the same routes.

Swimming takes place two laps in Lake Embrun. Then the triathletes face very hard 188km where they accumulate more than 3800m of unevenness. The most charismatic point of this test is the top of the Coll del Izoard at 2362m altitude, crowned around 100 km of cycling.

Finally the marathon is two laps of 21km around Embrun, with continuous climbs totaling about 600m of unevenness in each of the laps.

Photo: Christophe Guard



  • Location: Thondorf and Dachstein (Austria)
  • Information:
  • Swimming: 3,8 km on the river Muro
  • Cycling: 186 km (+ elevation 3.900m)
  • Race on foot: 43,6 km (+ elevation 1,900m)

The Astria Xtrem starts with 1,9km of swimming in the favorable direction of the current in the Muro river, to later make a 180º turn and cover the same distance but with the current against it. After reaching T1 triathletes must go 186 km of cycling with the ports of Gaberl at 1545m, Hochegg at 1341m, Kammersberg at 1100 and Sölkpass at 1795m, after crowning the latter and lowering it, you reach T2.

The marathon has a favorable and flat first part until km 21 but the second half is almost all ascending, passing 1200m of unevenness until end at 1850m at Dachstein Valley Station.



Norseman Triathlon

  • Location: Eidfjord - Gaustatoppen (Norway)
  • Swimming: 3,8km (around 13ºC)
  • Biking: 180km (+ elevation 2.800m)
  • Race on foot: 45km (+ elevation 1.800m)

The hardest swimming of these ironmans takes place in the Norseman, as it takes place in the Eidfjord fjord where the temperature rarely exceeds 13 degrees. Cycling begins with a flat 20km and then begins the spectacular 15km ascent to Dyranut where 1300m of elevation gain is saved. Then a zone of slides and steep slopes begins, until the last port, on the way to Imingfjell, between km 140 and 150, the triathletes suffer the ramps of 8% for 10km.

The last 30km of cycling are favorable until the town of Austbygde, T2 is located. Finally, the marathon consists of two well-differentiated parts, the first 25km flat on asphalt and the following 17,2km are run on forest tracks, saving a gap of more than 1800. The goal is located in Gaustatoppen at 1850m, the highest point of all ironman.

Photo: Michael Rauschendorfer


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