Over 3,000 participants swam, ran and bicycled their way through the Danish capital region on Sunday as part of the KMD Ironman Copenhagen as another estimated 200,000 spectators cheered them on.
The massive turnout should come as no surprise, as Denmark has now established itself as the world’s biggest Ironman country. According to the World Triathlon Corporation, Denmark had 802 Ironman participants per one million inhabitants in 2014, making it far and away the country with the biggest proportion of ‘iron’ men and women.
Behind Denmark was Luxembourg with 498, Norway with 346, Switzerland with 295 and Austria with 284.
“Denmark is generally viewed abroad as a fitness nation, where a lot of people are in good shape. And after the recent years have seen more marathons and ultra-races, many have now opened their eyes to triathlons and Ironman,” Thomas Veje Olsen, the head of Ironman Danmark, told national broadcaster DR.
Ironman competitors must complete a 3.8 km swimming route, a 180 km bicycle ride and a full 42.2 km marathon run.
Copenhagen’s version of the Ironman was first held in 2010, when some 1,600 participants put their endurance to the test. On Sunday, nearly twice as many participated and the event sold out faster than any other triathlon event in Europe.
Denmark's impressive reputation as an 'iron' nation was bolstered by Sunday's results. Dane Michelle Vesterby took the win among women, finishing the gruelling course in just under nine hours.
On the men's side, Denmark's Henrik Hyldelund was second with a finishing time of 8:21:51. Guilherme Valenza Manocchio of Brazil was the men's winner with a time of 8:14:56.
Last year's Copenhagen Ironman event saw twin brothers Steen and Peder Mondrup make history when, competing together as Team Tvilling (Team Twin), Peder became the first person with cerebral palsy to ever complete an Ironman contest.