Swimming for 3.8 kilometres, cycling for 180 kilometres and then a marathon run to finish: that is the challenge awaiting the 2,000-plus athletes from more than 50 countries that compete in the Ironman in Frankfurt. Facing such a tough programme, the athletes probably won't be taking too much notice of the fascinating cityscapes and scenery in Germany's banking capital and the beautiful surrounding region. Fortunately, there are many spectators on hand who can enjoy all this for them!
The first goal is completing the race, the second is qualifying for the annual triathlon world championships in Hawaii. Around half a million spectators line the Ironman route, cheering on the athletes and giving them moral support. The swim starts 12km from the city centre at Lake Waldsee in Langen. This is also the starting point for the cycling race, which passes through downtown Frankfurt, the Main-Kinzig district and the Wetterau region. Two of the most attractive points along the route for spectators are the historical village of Maintal-Hochstadt (with a 500m slope through the village centre known as 'The Hell') and the area around the castle in Friedberg/Bad Nauheim, the northernmost point of the cycling course. The dead-flat marathon route covers four laps of a circuit beside the river Main with the home straight on Römerberg square in front of the main grandstand. Cheers from the crowds carry the athletes those final few yards – and the elation they feel after crossing the line is indescribable.