PLAN YOUR 2018 IRONMAN – ULTIMATE COURSE GUIDE INSIDE
Inspired by Kona? Then now’s the time to plot your path to Ironman glory in 2018. Here’s all the information you need to pick the right 226km race experience for you
Okay, the racing aches from 2017 may still be lingering, but with the long-distance Lakesman already sold out for 2018, now’s the moment to plan your Ironman race for next season. But before you make such a monumental decision, there are one or two factors to consider before whipping out the credit card. “Decisions, decisions, decisions!” says UK racing great and S2 Coaching’s Spencer Smith. “With so many Ironman races on the calendar, it can be stressful to commit to the ‘right’ race. Picking the race that ticks at least most of your needs requires careful consideration. What are your personal goals for the race? Is it to qualify for Kona or ‘just’ to finish? Some iron-distance races are notoriously competitive, some are extremely fast or especially challenging on the swim, bike and/or run. Pick the race that suits your personal objectives.”
While the distance of around 226km largely remains uniform in the long-distance events, no single iron race is the same. Always check the course profiles, expected water temperature and swim, bike, run and overall cut-off times to avoid any nasty surprises.
“It seems obvious, but what are your strengths?” asks Smith. “Pick a race that’ll bring out the best in you, whether it’s the course, weather conditions or just because you love the thought of racing in a particular region. Generally athletes perform better at events held in conditions similar to where they train. So keep it simple and pick races that feel comfortable as the race will be hard enough as it is. The key is to be confident in your decision way before you get to the start line.”
The timing, logistics and cost are also key considerations, says Smith. And consider warm-up races at the shorter distances – e.g May’s Outlaw Half, where you can judge your fitness for July’s full Outlaw.
So here we’ll look at the UK’s top iron events by discipline, rating each on toughness. We’ll show you how to plan a European race and how to prepare for an extreme iron. We’ll also speak to veterans who have conquered courses around the globe to find out what you should be doing now in your bid for glory in 2018.