Intense Photos of Athletic Greatness From the Ironman World Championship

Intense Photos of Athletic Greatness From the Ironman World Championship
Source: AP
Source: AP

The Ironman triathlon is one of the most grueling competitions: Imagine pushing through a 2.4-mile swim while hundreds of the world's best athletes thrash beside you, followed by a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile marathon — all in one day. It's the equivalent of, as Sports Illustrated puts it, "140.6 miles of soul-challenging, gut-wrenching, adrenaline-driven insanity."

It's the intensity of these events that brought more than 2,000 athletes to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Friday for the Ironman World Championship. The Associated Press reported that Germany's Sebastian Kienle won the championship for the first time, beating second-place Ben Hoffman, an American, by more than five minutes. Kienle, 30, completed the race in 8 hours, 14 minutes, 18 seconds.

The Associated Press captured incredible scenes of endurance and sheer athletic prowess.

The sun rises over Mauna at the start of the IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Andy Potts swims the 2.4 mi race portion of the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Aage group racers hit the road during the 112-mi bike race during the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Paralympic handcycle champion Alex Zanardi leads a pack of racers during the 112-mi bike portion at the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
As the sun sets, Kaoru Suzuki, of Japan, runs the marathon during the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Sebastian Kienle, leads the pack during the marathon at the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Rachel Joyce, of Germany, (l-r), Mirinda Carfrae, of Australia, and Daniela Ryf, of Switzerland, are seen at the finish line during the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Former Olympian Apollo Ohno reacts at the finish line during the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Sebastian Kienle, of Germany, wins the men's 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP
Sebastian Kienle, of Germany, reacts after winning the men's 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
Source: Marco Garcia/AP