This Sunday heralds the return of one of the UK's most prestigious endurance triathlons; Ironman UK. This is the only officially branded Iron distance event in England. More than 1,500 triathletes will be speeding through Lancashire's countryside as they tick off a tough 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.
Competition will be fierce for the 50 age group slots for the 2011 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, up for grabs. Returning to Bolton for its third year, the revised route promises a more spectator-friendly circuit as it winds through Bolton town centre. Crowd support of more than 30,000 people is expected.
Will it be shown on TV?
Ironman UK will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 7am on August 21. Set your alarm or press the record button and enjoy catching up with the highlights from the comfort of your sofa.
Any elites taking part?
Of course! Representing the UK in the men's race we have Nick Saunders, Paul Hawkins, Oliver Simon, Stephen Bayliss (depending on when his pregnant wife Bella, also a triathlete, gives birth) and Toby Radciffe, who has been giving weekly tips in our TW Triathlon Training Newsletter. Yvette Grice and Joanna Caritt will be taking up the mantle for British women.
Last minute racing tips?
Get the edge on your competitors with racing advice from legendary Chrissie Wellington, three time Ironman World Champion. Discover her mental strategies for racing at your best during the long haul event. Bring along family and friends and arrange in advance where they'll be posted to give you a motivational boost.
If you missed the entry deadline or if we've inspired you to try your hand at next year's event, swot up on our guide to Ironman training and discover why long distance triathlons are soaring in popularity.
Still haven't had your Ironman fix? Look ahead to the racing season's finale at the the World Championshps in Hawaii on October 8, with our course preview.
Seven things you didn't know about Ironman UK 2011...
- The oldest athlete taking part is 71-year-old George Duffy from Canada
- The youngest athlete is 18-year-old Niku Philon from Scotland
- 34 nationalities make up the field of more than 1,500 competitors
- The biggest club taking part is Bustinskin Tri Club, based in Dorset
- On the course there will a whopping 500kg of bananas....
- and 30,000l of liquids to keep athletes hydrated
- And if you do msnage to spot the ten people taking part on their birthday, save the bumps until the finish line...
Make a beeline for the IMUK 2011 thread to find out which of our forumites will be lining up at the startline and share your last minute advice and post-race reports.
Once you've finished the race, keep us posted about your triathlon triumph. Tell us your race stories via Facebook and Twitter, then send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org to feature in our Ironman UK gallery.
We've teamed up with K-Swiss, official footwear and run course sponsor of Ironman UK, to offer you a pair of their K-Ona S shoes. The K-Swiss K-Ona S is an Ironman specific running shoe (worth £80) that'll help you perform at your peak. For a chance to win, just add your top racing tip to the comment section at the bottom of this article.
You can also visit the K-Swiss stand at the expo in Bolton, where the team will be on hand to help find your ideal running shoes and tri gear.