Come for Ironman Wales, stay for the Pembrokeshire Experience

September 11th sees the legendary Ironman Wales triathlon return to Tenby for its tenth time after its cancellation last year. Since the first Ironman Wales took place in 2011 the event has drawn athletes – amateur and professional – from all over the world. And boasts some of the most enthusiastic crowds in all of endurance sport. The whole town is abuzz at Ironman time and the atmosphere is electric.It’s certainly worth experiencing once, if only from the sidelines.

A timed course dubbed ‘the hardest in the world’, Ironman Wales is certainly not for the fainthearted. The whole three-part race has to be completed within 17 hours, which sounds like a long time but when you see the course…phew!

It starts off at Tenby’s North Beach with a 2.4-mile, 2 lap swim in the choppy waters of Carmarthen Bay.  Wetsuits are most definitely required. After lap two there’s a 1km run/walk from the swim exit, up the ramp to the road level and then to the main transition in town for the cycling section.

The 112-mile, 2 loop cycle ride follows the  Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, taking in some  of the most beautiful parts of Pembrokeshire. There’s one large loop of just under 70 miles, then a shorter second loop which repeats part of the first one. It’s a hilly course, climbing  2100m in total,  lined with spectators  along the route. Heartbreak Hill is one of the most intense climbs on the course and is a particularly good spot to watch from.

Competitors finish (if they make it this far) with a marathon (26.2 miles) through the streets of Tenby. More hilly terrain – even the finish is slightly uphill. Cheering crowds definitely help.


There’s even an Ironman for children, which takes place the day before, on Saturday 10th.  Ironkids Wales is a run-only event for up to 2,000 children aged 3-15 years. It’s all about fun and healthy living and each child receives a medal once they cross the finish line under the iconic IRONMAN finish gantry.

Ironman Wales’ arrival in Tenby has had a profound effect on the town – and not just during the event. Local sports clubs have added “triathlon sections” and seen their membership numbers soar. Cyclists are now a common sight around the town and locals will tell you (probably only half jokingly) there are more triathletes per capita in this part of Wales than anywhere else in the world. So it’s no surprise that Tenby is now nicknamed Irontown!

Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, it’s worth sticking around Tenby for the great post-race atmosphere. With three stunning sandy beaches and pastel coloured houses rising up from a picturesque harbour, Tenby has plenty to offer – and makes the perfect base to explore Pembrokeshire.


If you can’t stay now, do make plans to come back. You won’t regret it. Our rugged coastline and countryside are made for adventure and activities.  For instance, did you know Pembrokeshire is the birthplace of modern coasteering? We can offer everything from kayaking to kite surfing, hill walking to horse riding and more besides.

Why not explore our National Park or chill out on our beautiful Blue Flag beaches.

With our renowned seafood and reputation for growing quality produce we’re also something of a foodie mecca, so you’ll find plenty of options for great dining.

Then there’s our castles, ancient stones, beautiful St Davids Cathedral, trips to see the famous puffins on Skomer Island… you’ll never be bored in Pembrokeshire. Like we said, come for Ironman Wales, stay for the Pembrokeshire experience.