THE Lake District’s extreme iron-distance race Triathlon X has been judged by the experts as the toughest in the world.
Triathlon X, which was staged at Ambleside last month, enters the ratings for the first time and goes straight to number one, in a list compiled by 220 Triathlon magazine.
Their statisticians base their findings on scores for a range of features including bike and run elevation, run surface type, isolation, the median finishing time (over 18 hours for The X) and the psychological factor they call the “psych battle”.
Triathlon X comes out with a total points score of 89 out of 100, ahead of the joint-second-placed Altriman in the Pyrenees, and Snowdonia’s The Brutal. Further down the list are races previously considered the toughest, including Norway’s Norseman.
“Make no mistake all 11 of these Ironman distance triathlons are tough and not for the faint-hearted, but which is the toughest long-distance race of all?” wrote the magazine’s editor.
“And the winner is... Triathlon X in the Lake District. A bike route on the legendary Fred Whitton cyclo-sportive route and a run up Scafell Pike and down again makes the new-entry Triathlon X the world’s toughest triathlon.”
“The bike is based on the infamous Fred Whitton cyclo-sportive route, the hilly grand-daddy of all classic bike rides that happens to be 180km long. So it’s been an obvious long-held dream to have it as the showpiece of an iron-distance race," said Anthony Gerundini, 10th in 2016 and 113 time Iron finisher.
"The route takes in the iconic passes of the Lake District, including Hardknott and Wrynose. And it further spices up the route to include ‘The Struggle’ at Kirkstone Pass, familiar to anyone who has done Helvellyn Tri, and the tough 25 per cent gradient of the Honister Pass. The run then takes in the ascents through Mickelden, Rossett Ghyll and Esk Hause before the rock fields of Great End and Broad Crag. And then the challenge of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and back down again.”
The race, hosted by YHA Ambleside at Waterhead, was won by American Andrew Drobeck in 12 hours 40 minutes. First woman home was Newcastle University’s Daisy Baggs in 16 hours 50 minutes. They each received £1,000 prize money from sponsors Lakeland UK and Heart of the Lakes.
Competitor John Bishop said: “Having done the Brutal as well, I came 2nd in 2014, I'd say you have it hands down. Nicer course too - no laps.”
Race director Mark Blackburn said: “We knew we had created the toughest possible course, and that was confirmed by all of our competitors. This is great news, to have the experts prove it with statistics. It is fantastic for Ambleside and the Lake District.”