Thanks to the truewow staff for creating this challenge and for their instant resolution of reward claiming issue. Also thanks to my loyal fans who congratulated me.
The challenge has been the most fun I've had in WoW for a long time, I started it as a distraction while waiting for raid announcements but got hooked and it became my #1 WoW activity. I will never see gray quality items or caves the same way.
About the difficulty difference between Ironman and Bloodthirsty I can confirm what Dabeer (Alcippe) wrote. Bloodthirsty is in my experience SAFER way to go. Questing takes you to dangerous places and situations, you spend time researching quests before actually doing them (to assess danger and make sure you don't get any unwanted buffs), you move around a lot more increasing chances of running into trouble. Meanwhile, bloodthirsty is all about finding a nice spot to farm and being persistent, running endless circles of same mobs. I leveled for a while like that when I ran out of quests and I admire the people who have patience and resolve to do it like that all the time (looking at Meopala
Here's a couple of tips in no particular order that I've found useful on my journey to Ironman lvl 80. It's from a perspective of a MM hunter but same principles apply for all classes:
Always be paranoid and on the lookout. Keep track of your surroundings. Don't let nasty patrolling mobs sneak up on you. Health should be full, pet alive and healthy, enough drink, pots, ammo and everything else you need.
Know the zone that you're in and particular dangers it presents. Are there elite mobs walking around and do you know their routes? You don't wanna be surprised by the likes of Fel Reaver in Hellfire, Crimson Courrier in WPL, Stitches or Mor'Ladim in Duskwood and many, many more. Do you know other faction settlements in the zone and how far their guards partol? Don't hesitate to ask for advice in guild, you'll often find someone who knows what to beware of in a specific zone.
Have a clear escape route at all times and as soon as you see you're losing the control of the fight, start running away. When I saw that my pet is taking too much damage and that things might go ugly, I would command it to stay (and die for our noble cause) while I would start running to safety. As soon as I was in a safe spot and pet dead, it was Feign Death -> Mana potion if necessary -> Revive Pet -> Mend Pet / Eat / Drink.
Adding up to point #3 - don't be shy to use mana and health potions. I've never used so many pots like in this challenge, but you seriously don't want to save them when your priority is surviving. There's plenty of pots in guild bank to use and at higher level you can also buy them from your friendly ahbot.
Still adding to point #3 - Having clear escape routes is why caves are bad. All of us ignore this rule at start and think "I'm not a noob like those others, I know what I'm doing, how bad can it be" and then we die in a cave. This was the story of my first try too which ended at lvl16. Caves are bad because you don't have anywhere to run, you either run to front into more mobs or back into mobs which have respawned. Another reason why caves are bad is because many times mob difficulty increases as you go deeper and by the time you realize you're in trouble it's already late (example: Kurzen cave in Stranglethorn Vale).
Ingame stopwatch is your friend, use it. If you're worried about mobs respawning and blocking your way back, use stopwatch and time when you kill first mob. Exactly 5:00 minutes later it will be back up.
Use food / drink / potions from your action bars only, not directly from the inventory. That way you'll always know that you're using safe food that doesn't give a buff.
Don't loot scrolls. This goes with "be paranoid" rule, I hated even the idea of having one in my inventory and the risk of accidentally clicking one was not worth the couple silver I would vendor it for.
Use only stationary vendors. You know those vendors who you're trading with and then they just stroll off in the middle of the trade? Those. Avoid them like the plague. You would not be the first who ended up DQed because a green+ item landed on your character instead of being sold to strolling vendor. To make things extra safe I sold tricky items (like soulbound gear) by drag and dropping it on vendor window instead of right clicking.
Keep an eye on your pvp status. I've noticed that it can be turned on when you don't expect it. Example is night elf skill Shadowmeld which under circumstances that I haven't quite understood yet sometimes turns on PvP flag. Another example is entering Fizzcrank Airstrip or Taunka'Le Village in Borean Tundra while affected by Animal Blood debuff. I've set up Power Auras addon to alert me with a message in the middle of the screen as soon as my PvP is on so I can logout in panic.
Be aware of other players in the same zone and what they are doing, regardless of their faction. They might've cleared a group of mobs that respawn right where you're standing.
Once you get to Outland and Northrend, I suggest getting npcscan or some other addon that will alert you when a rare mob is close. Most are very dangerous on this challenge and you want to know when one is nearby to be able to avoid it. This was the first time in my WoW career that I wished NOT to encounter Time Lost Proto Drake.
Hearthstone is not just a convenient way to get back to your city, it's also your ultimate defensive CD. If you see you're getting into situation that might go ugly soon, USE IT before it gets worse. A little walking back is a lot better than going back to character creation screen. For example, I used it in Hellfire before I got flying and saw that Fel Reaver is heading my way and I'd have to run into dangerous area. I also used it once when I got on a ledge where I couldn't climb up anymore and couldn't tell how much fall damage I'd take if I jumped down so I HSed instead.
Don't use Great Lift in Howling Fjord. Just don't, it kills our kind.
Consider not training weapons you know you will not use. I knew I'd never use a gun so I never trained it and reduced the amount of green+ gear I could accidentally equip.
Most importantly: Have fun! Prepare yourself for heart stopping experiences, shaky hands and epic deaths that you'll never forget.
I'll stop now, sorry for the wall of text, there are more things to warn about (like scary quests) but some things should remain surprises too.
Good luck to all future contestants!