In the Ironman world circuit, it is widely acknowledged that after the Ford Ironman World Championship, the next most prestigious title an athlete can claim is the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship. The event is sponsored by Frankfurter Sparkasse is one of the largest savings banks in Germany. It belongs to Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen and has its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt am Main, commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2009 population of 672,000. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,295,000 in 2010. The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region which has a population of 5,600,000 and is Germany's second largest metropolitan area.
Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe.
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26.2 miles 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race, where the Ironman race starts at 7 AM, the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4 mile swim is 2 hours 20 minutes, the bike cut off time is 5:30 PM, and all finishers must complete their marathon by midnight.
The name "Ironman Triathlon" refers to both the original Ironman triathlon and the annual Ironman World Championship. Also called Ironman Hawaii, the world championships of the event, held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982), are now preceded by a series of qualifying events. Ironman Triathlon became known for its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and television coverage.