Ironman Elevation Gain

The distances won’t differ a lot between Ironman events. What can vary a lot is the elevation profile of the bike and running courses.

I have checked the courses of all Ironman 140.6 in North America, Europe, and Oceania. Let’s have a look below:

ELEVATION GAIN – HOW TO MAKE IT COMPARABLE:

As you probably know already, having good elevation numbers is quite tricky. For the same course, watches will record different numbers. Softwares will use other methods, and race organizers don’t always communicate those numbers.

With the below methodology, I tried to make the data as comparable as possible to compare the races with each other.

  • I checked all Ironman races in North America, Europe, and Oceania and looked for an athlete who recorded his race on Strava.
  • I downloaded the bike and run courses from Strava and uploaded it to the route planning software Komoot (website link, no affiliation). From there, I create a new route and took the elevation gain from it.

IRONMAN RACES IN NORTH AMERICA:

IronmanBike – Elevation Gain (ft)Run – Elevation Gain (ft)Last Update
Arizona1,8042952021
California
Canada
Chattanooga3,0519192021
Coeur d'Alene6,0709512021
Cozumel6232302021
Florida1,1811642021
Indiana2,0014592021
Kona3,4127222019
Lake Placid6,5621,0502021
Maryland981642021
Mont-Tremblant7,0549192019
St George
Texas6892622021
Tulsa3,9042622021
Waco1,7065252021
Wisconsin4,3316562021

On the bike, the average elevation gain is around 3,000 ft. With its 100 ft of elevation gain, IM Maryland is probably as flat as it can be for such a long distance. If you are looking for a climbing challenge, check out IM Mont-Tremblant, which has 7,055 ft of climbing.

On the run, the average elevation gain is 540 ft. IM Lake Placid is the only one with more than 1,000 ft of elevation gain.

IRONMAN RACES IN EUROPE:

IronmanBike – Elevation Gain (ft)Run – Elevation Gain (ft)Last Update
Austria5,8733942021
Barcelona2,7892302021
Copenhagen2,5263282021
Finland3,3467872021
France9,2193612021
Frankfurt5,0525252021
Gdynia4,6267552021
Hamburg1,1816562021
Ireland
Italy Emilia Romagna1,7722302021
Kalmar1,4764592021
Lanzarote7,3495252021
Mallorca5,0854592021
Portugal Cascais5,2176892021
Switzerland6,5621972021
Tallinn1,6736892021
UK7,4151,0502021
Vichy7,8413612021
Vitoria3,2813282021
Wales6,5941,4762019

Compared to North America, the IM races in Europe include way more climbing, a whopping average of 4,700 ft! Ironman France in Nice has only 9,220 ft of elevation gain, something we are doing on all our Sunday rides, right? 😀

The run courses in Europe average 550 ft of elevation gain. IM Wales (1,475 ft) and IM UK (1,050 ft) are the two real outliers here.

IRONMAN RACES IN OCEANIA:

IronmanBike – Elevation Gain (ft)Run – Elevation Gain (ft)Last Update
Australia3,3796232019
Cairns3,1503612021
New Zealand2,9537872021
Western Australia1,1811312019

With an average elevation gain of 2,700 ft on the bike and 480 ft on the run, you can find one relatively flat race (IM Western Australia) and three others which are a bit more challenging.

I hope this article helped you understand the different course profiles of Ironman races. If you want to learn more about the time you will need to finish those races, have a look at this article I wrote: Average Ironman Time Per Age Group And Gender