A famously flat and fast race set in the self-titled ‘European Capital of Triathlon’. The atmosphere is incredible but don’t be fooled – it’s not quite as easy as everyone thinks!
Size: Around 3000 triathletes
Race reviewed in 2014 by Adam Bennett
- Book early – it’s always sells out super quick!
- Be prepared for a cold swim
- Train for a technical bike course with lots of twists and turns
- Don’t worry to much about hills on the bike – aerobars are good idea as it’s a quick course
- Watch out for the only big hill – the Geels Bakke
- Train for a flat, fast run course
Race video here…
How was the organisation and set up?
The registration process was simple and straightforward, although the race did sell out in about 6 hours (even quicker for the 2015 race!) so you have to be prepared! Although Ironman events are expensive, I think you do get what you pay for – a slick event, meticulously organised and all the associated bells and whistles that you get with an event of this size (c.3,000 athletes).
Although the course had a split transition, you could drop both transition bags at T1 when racking your bike to make the pre-race logistics a bit easier.
What’s the course like?
The swim was in the sea, but in an artificial lagoon which meant the water was pretty calm although not the warmest. It passed under three pedestrian bridges which were lined with supporters creating a great atmosphere.
For the bike it was 2x90km loops, out north of Copenhagen city centre along the coast before heading back inland through countryside and some small villages. The bike course included parts of the 2011 World Championship Road Race (won by Mark Cavendish), including the one real climb of note up the Geels Bakke and a cobbled section through the beautiful town of Lyngby.
The run course was the real attraction – the city centre loop (to be completed 4 times) took in loads of the best tourist sites in Copenhagen: the Little Mermaid, the Christiansborg & Amaliensborg castles, the waterfront, Nyhavn etc.
How difficult is Ironman Copenhagen?
One of the reasons that Copenhagen sells out so fast is because it is known as a fast course, but that certainly doesn’t mean it is easy (well, not for me anyway).
The one lap swim didn’t produce super-fast times, and the size of the transitions took up valuable seconds!
Although the bike course had no real hills of note (with the exception of the Geels Bakke), it certainly wasn’t easy. The first past of the route out of the city was fairly technical and the section along the coast was exposed to strong winds.
The second half of the loop was pretty rolling and although it has probably half the elevation of the Ironman UK route in Bolton, it’s just as challenging. Then again, maybe 180km is never easy?!
The run was pretty much pancake flat around the city centre, and was certainly made easier by the great support and scenic route.
What was the atmosphere like?
The atmosphere was fantastic throughout – from the spectators lining the bridges on the swim, to the Tour de France-esque climb up the Geels Bakke, to the packed city centre streets for the run and the electric atmosphere at the finish line outside the Christiansborg Castle.
The support on the run was as good as some big city marathons that I have done, with one unforgettable section where through an underpass where the noise and cheers was deafening.
They called Copenhagen the ‘European Capital of Triathlon’ in the race briefing, and the people of the city certainly got behind the race in a big way.
What is there to do Après Race?
Without doubt one of the best cities that I have visited, Copenhagen has it all – history, tourist attractions, beautiful architecture & waterways, nice restaurants and bars, good shops if you are so inclined.
Ironman puts on a pretty good spread of food & drink post-race in the finish line area, but I would recommend going into town for a Tuborg or two! It is well worth staying for a few days post-race to enjoy the city at a more leisurely pace!
My Race Diary
By Adam Bennett
GB Age Group Triathlete
This was my second Ironman, having raced in Bolton at Ironman UK in 2013. I finished in 10:24 which I am fairly happy with, but could have been a lot faster had I not suffered a slow puncture throughout the entire bike leg!
For those interested, a full review of my race can be found on my blog: https://adambennett17.wordpress.com/