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4 Ironman events that are harder than Kona

Despite its challenging race course, the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona may not be the hardest Ironman.

Despite being one of – if not – the most famous Ironman events in the world, the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona is not the hardest race. Which is incredible, because it does offer some of the most challenging race conditions.

Lionel Sanders finishing the 2017 Ironman World Championship.

In no particular order, here are four Ironman races that are “harder” than the race that takes place every October, on the Island of Hawaii. These four races were determined via an Ironman Facebook poll that was conducted in 2018, and a ranking system developed by TriRating.com which determined the fastest and slowest Ironman races.

1) Ironman Lanzarote

With its ocean swim and barren, hilly bike route, Ironman Lanzarote is one of the longest-standing races in Europe.

Not unlike Kona, you can be all alone in the lava fields of Lanzarote.

Related: Ironman Lanzarote voted the toughest Ironman in the world

The race features a two-lap swim course that takes place at Playa Grande, Puerto del Carmen. Along with its hilly bike course – over 2,500m of climbing – the island is notorious for strong winds. The race then finishes with a run course that leads the triathletes along the seafront of Puerto del Carmen, up to Arrecife and back, and then to Matagorda and back.

2) Ironman Wales

Taking place in Pembrokeshire, Wales, this Ironman event is one of the hardest races in Europe. Known for its unforgiving bike and run course, completing Ironman Wales is no easy feat (not to say an Ironman is an easy feat). The bike route includes over 2,000m of climbing and very strong coastal winds. While the run course ascends over 400m of elevation gain.

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Top results come and go, but the thrill of the adventure, and the joy of pursuing this sport together are things that stick with us. @ironmanwales was an adventure and a half! Hardest course we've ever done (by about 1hr!), and we've done a lot of hard Ironmans. Heather was happy to jump in with no expectations after focusing solely on 70.3 Worlds, and Trevor enjoyed being out there even with a flat tire and flat legs. 4th and 10th place. Not rich in prize $, but much richer for the experience! Thanks so much to the brilliant spectators for making the race atmosphere electric, and to all our sponsors and supporters for enabling us to do this sport that we love. ?? . . . . #triathlon #protriathlete #swimbikerun #ironmantri #fuelandslay #alltribesoneclan #myparlee #aquasphere #dotoughraces #ironmanwales #racing #rotorbike #IrideENVE #theragun #scouringfinisherpicslostandfoundFTW

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Related: The slowest and fastest Ironman courses

3) Ironman Canada

Finishing third in the Ironman Facebook pool; “What is the toughest IRONMAN course on the circuit?” Ironman Canada (Whistler, BC) does offer a challenging course. With one of the most beautiful swims taking place in Alta Lake, the athletes take on a very difficult bike-run course. Not too mention, the weather can play a big role in the outcome of the day. In 2018, the heat and humidity wreaked havoc on the athletes.

The climb up Callaghan Valley. Photo: Finisher Pix

This year, Ironman Canada will have a new bike course. The new 2-loop course is tough and beautiful, taking athletes from the shores of Alta Lake to the top of the Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley. The athletes will then travel further south down the Sea-to-Sky Highway, enjoying views of Black Tusk and the surrounding mountain ranges before making their return back to Whistler.

Related: Penticton votes yes for Ironman Canada return

4) Ironman France

The historic race in Nice, France begins with a two-loop, 3.8K swim in the Mediterranean Sea. The 180K bike course is the jewel of this event, as it follows much of the original Nice Triathlon route and passes through beautiful villages and mountains. With over 2,000m of elevation gain, athletes are awarded for all their hard climbing with a fast fast four-loop run course along the Promenade des Anglais.

Ironman France transition zone.