5 More of the world's toughest triathlons

Just when we thought we'd found five of the toughest races in the world ... we came up with five more.

| May 4, 2017 | RACES

The Canada Man / Woman triathlon is new this year and features 2,500 m of climbing on the bike and another 1,200 m up to the Mont-Megantic observatory on the run.

The Canada Man / Woman triathlon is new this year and features 2,500 m of climbing on the bike and another 1,200 m up to the Mont-Megantic observatory on the run.

Celtman! Extreme Scottish Triathlon

When a race’s website greets you with the following, you know you’re in for a tough day:

Make no mistake - when we say this race is extreme we mean it. Read the race information carefully before entering as you may have to endure cold water, strong winds, driving rain and difficult conditions on the mountain with low visibility.

Photo >Steve Carter | Celtman Xtreme Triathlon

This year will be the sixth edition of the Celtman! Extreme event in Wester Ross, Scotland that includes (and this is, once again, from their website):

  • Swim 3.4 km in cold, deep and jellyfish infested Atlantic waters
  • Bike 202 km on incredible scenic (and often very windy) Highland roads
  • Run 42 km through an ancient drover’s pass and over the Beinn Eighe mountain range
  • Ascend over 4,000 meters during this epic day

Like the Norseman Xtreme event there’s a cut off part way through the run – those who reach that point by 11 hours into the race get to go over Beinn Eighe and receive a blue shirt if they finish in time, others finish on the lower course to receive a white shirt. Since it’s started there have been five races, 911 starters and 471 blue T-shirt winners.

Photo >Bearman Xtreme

Bearman Xtreme

A first-year event, the Bearman is a full-distance race set in France’s most southerly valley, Le Vallespir. The Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea will serve as a backdrop for the race, which is completely unsupported – there are no aid stations and no outside support allowed. (There are water points and one bag drop off spot.) The cut off time for the race is 24 hours.

“Some athletes feel that the essence of triathlon has been lost,” Michelle Laidlow, one of the race organizers wrote on our Facebook page. “Long distance events costing 100s of euros to enter, aid stations every few kms, mundane bike and run routes implemented to keep the course simple, fast and spectator friendly. This is not what Bearman is about!’ Epic, Hard, Spectacular, Natural and 149€ entry. (5000m+ climbing on the bike, 1800m+ on the run, natural water stops, self supported....and new on the circuit for 23/09/2017.”

Photo >Evergreen Endurance

Evergreen Endurance

Set in spectacular Chamonix, France, the Evergreen Endurance triathlon offers a couple of different races – the 228 consists of a 4 km swim, 181 km bike and a 43 km run while the 118 includes a 2 km swim, 95 km bike and a 21.1 km run. There’s 7,500 m of climbing in the longer race and “just” 3,300 m in the shorter one. The swim takes place in Montriond Lake near Morzine and is followed by a bike through five high passes and a run that takes in some of the beautiful trails in the Chamonix Valley.

Evergreen triathlon around Chamonix, France. 5000m D+ on the bike on beautiful roads and another 2500m D+ on the run, tackling both the Aiguilles Rouges (with views to the Mont Blanc massif) and another loop over the Mont Blanc massif itself. Absolutely stunning and well organised race, and in my own experience much harder than Norseman, Celtman, Alpe d'Huez and Hawaii (didn't race Lanzarote yet so can't compare to that) – Karin Sloove wrote on our Facebook page.

Canada Man / Woman Lac-Megantic Xtreme Triathlon

We wrote about this new event last year, just before it opened and sold out almost immediately. Offering a spectacular course in the heart of the province of Quebec, the race features a 3.8 km swim in Lac Megantic starting at dawn, a 180 km bike ride with 2,500 m of climbing followed by a 42 km run along roads and trails with a finish line at the observatory at the top of Mont-Megantic – there’s another 1,200 m of climbing on the final leg of the race.

“This triathlon will be intense, wild and authentic,” say two of the race organizers, Daniel Poirier and Jean-Thomas Boily. “Since Lac-Mégantic residents are known for their hospitality, triathletes will be welcomed at the start and finish as if they were surrounded by family members.”

Carrie Lester on her way to the win at the 2016 Embrunman Triathlon.

Carrie Lester on her way to the win at the 2016 Embrunman Triathlon.

Photo >Embrunman


When you've got a guy who has broken eight hours for a full-distance race who needs 9:35:46 to finish the race, you know you're talking about one heck of a difficult race course. James Cunnama's winning time from 2016 put him over 15-minutes up on the next fastest competitor. If you're still not convinced, how about this stat: Carrie Lester went 8:42:13 in Roth last summer and then, the following month, went 10:46:26 to win the Embrunman race.

The event has been going since 1986 in Enbrun, France and was renowned as the most difficult triathlon in the world for years. The over 3,000 m of climbing on the 188 km bike includes up the Col d'Izoard, an "Hors Categorie" climb that is often part of the Tour de France course. There's another 400 m of climbing on the run, too.