Most people are familiar with the concept of a triathlon, a sporting event that involves a combination of swimming, cycling, and running. They may be less familiar with an Ironman triathlon, although it is growing in popularity. An Ironman is a particularly challenging form of triathlon, and despite its name, women participate in it as well as men. 

What makes Ironman so challenging? Many people considering the Ironman may already have the completion of one or more marathons, a 26.2-mile race, as their proudest accomplishment. In Ironman, that is only one leg of the competition. The other two are a 112-mile bike ride and a swim of 2.4 miles. For potential competitors who find these distances a bit too daunting, there is also a half-distance Ironman. 

There are a few things people entering the competition should be aware of and also some things to look forward to. A lot of Ironman competitors are cyclists first and foremost and tend to be very into gear. This means that many of them will have high-end bicycles, but it is not necessary to have the most expensive bike on the market to compete. Another aspect of cycling that competitors should know about is that they have to pass other riders within 25 seconds and otherwise stay 12 meters apart. This is so that one rider does not benefit from the slipstream of another rider, but it can be difficult to judge this, so it is worth practicing ahead of time. 

The precision of this rule points to something competitors can look forward to the excellent organization. Along with that comes plenty of free items, including Ironman-branded swag for the race. In addition, race organizers provide top-of-the-line nutrition during the event itself and an excellent buffet afterward to start replenishing all those lost carbs and other nutrients. 

Finally, Ironman athletes can count on enjoying an incredible sense of accomplishment as they cross the finish line. Whether they go the full or half distance, this is an incredible athletic feat, and while it can be a costly endeavor, participants often enjoy it so much they go on to do additional Ironman events