For triathletes, there is no bigger day than the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. It is the race that defined the sport as it came of age and continues to be the ultimate race for avid triathletes.

This year, in gruelling humid heat, British super-triathlete Chrissie Wellington broke the women's course record by one minute and Australian Craig Alexander won his second consecutive Ironman World Championship.

Only 1800 triathletes get to the starting line in Kona - those who qualify by their times in other world Ironman events and those who win places in a lottery. This means that regular triathletes get to compete alongside the best in the world.

The Ironman originated in 1978 when Americans John and Judy Collins created a single-day endurance event where every athlete swam 2.4 miles (3.86km), cycled 112 miles (180.2km) and ran 26.2 miles (42.2km). It was decreed that whoever finished first would be called "Ironman".

The first events were held in Honolulu, on Oahu island. Ironman moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1981 where it has become an iconic event taking over the seaside tourist town.

It is a tough course; swimming through ocean swells, then riding and running on challenging lava-covered terrain on this volcanic island. Participants face equator-strength sun and sometimes swirling winds - and finishers are all equally declared "Ironman".











Men -
Craig Alexander (AUS) 08:20:21
Chris Lieto (USA) 08:22:56
Andreas Raelert (GER) 08:24:32

Women -
Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 08:54:02
Miranda Carfrae (AUS) 09:13:59
Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 09:15:28

The 36th Sierre-Zinal once again offered everything that made this event so popular; magnificent views of five mountains of more than 4000m altitude along the course and great organisation.

These features mean mountain runners put the Sierre-Zinal into the same prestigious position that marathon runners place the New York Marathon.

"As a mountain racer, you must experience the tradition and history of this race", wrote Jonathan Wyatt, New Zealand record holder of both Sierre-Zinal and the Jungfrau Marathon and a multiple world mountain racing champion.

Sierre-Zinal takes place in the heart of Valais' Alps, offering participants a significant challenge; 31km distance, 2200m ascent and 800m descent. Incredible scenery, a warm atmosphere and exceptional organisation explain the success and longevity of this challenge. It is the oldest mountain race of its type in Europe and is considered one of the finest in the world.

In the main event 805 men and 179 women finished in Zinal. Jornet Burgada, from Spain, won in 2h35m. Women's winner Anna Pichrtova, from Czech Republic, crossed the finish line in 2h58m.

There was also a tourist competition where runners could tackle the course with a 5am start. They were not timed but could make the most of the chance to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains - Weisshorn, Matterhorn, Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn and Dent Blanche.

The Sierre-Zinal takes place every year on the 2nd Sunday in August.


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