The triathlon is a stern test of swimming, cycling and running ability and the popularity of the event is growing the world over. While runners may set their sights on one of the iconic world marathons like the Virgin Money London Marathon or New York City Marathon, there are a number of great triathlon events that we think you really ought to think about competing in.
Here’s our list of the five triathlons around the globe that you should set your sights on, whether you are just making your first steps in triathlon or have been at it for years.
The London Triathlon
Where: Docklands, London, UK
Distances: Super Sprint (400m swim/10km bike/2.5km run), Sprint (750m/20km/5km), Olympic (1.5km/40km/10km)
Website: The London Triathlon
The London Triathlon is one of the biggest mass participation triathlon events, with a growing number of competitors (more than 13,000) putting themselves through it. With three distances on offer, this makes it an attractive proposition to many newcomers, with nearly half of all competitors being first time triathletes.
The event gets under way at the Docklands' ExCeL Centre (where the massive pre-event London Triathlon Expo is also held). Those participating in the Olympic-distance course get the opportunity to pass some of London's most famous landmarks, including Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. For the beginners amongst you, there’s the Super Sprint event with a 400m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run. You can even enter the Sprint and Olympic events as part of a team.
Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival
Where: Noosa Heads Lions Park, Noosa Heads, Australia
Distances: Olympic (1,500m swim/40km cycle/10km run)
Website: Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival
This event is about so much more than triathlon – there’s a weeklong festival of swimming, cycling, running, golf, plus a great Expo event and some serious after-event partying. Coupled with sun and surf, it’s no surprise that more than 10,500 competitors across all events come flocking, including 8,500 in the Olympic distance triathlon.
The triathlon course consists of a swim in a sheltered canal, an undulating out and back cycle course, and a flat one lap out and back course through Noosa Sound. After your event there’s a great chance to spot some sporting celebrities, including the Aussie football legends who take part in the Legends Tri. More than 30,000 spectators come flocking, making for a festival atmosphere and a great place to enjoy some down time after the triathlon.
Wildflower Festival Triathlons
Where: Lake San Antonio, California, USA
Distances: Long Course Triathlon (1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run), Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5km swim/40km bike/10km Run), Mountain Bike Triathlon (0.25 mile swim/ 9.7 mile bike/2 mile run).
Website: Wildflower Festival Triathlons
Around 8,000 competitors flock to Lake San Antonio every year for the Wildflower Triathlons Festival which is held over a three-day weekend. Part of the appeal is the general atmosphere which has led some to christen it the ‘Woodstock of triathlons’. The area becomes a tent city of vendors, musicians and athletes, many of whom opt to stay at campsites adjacent to the transition area.
For the athletes, there’s the chance to participate in one of the weekend's many challenging races. The challenging terrain, including the aptly named ‘Nasty Grade’ (a five-mile long climb that raises you up over 1,000 ft – approximately 305m), and competitive fields of racers, make Wildflower an event that every triathlete should experience. Enjoy the Exposition area and then take the opportunity to carbo-load round the campfire.
Ironman New Zealand
Where: Lake Taupo, Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Distances: 2.4 miles swim (3.86 km), 180km cycle (112 miles) and run 42km run (26 miles)
Website: Ironman New Zealand
Lake Taupo's Ironman Triathlon is an event with excellent organization and overwhelming local community support – the only drawback being that it accommodates a field of only 1,500. Those who come get to test themselves in a breathtaking landscape of waterfalls, valleys, hot springs and volcanoes – the perfect place to holiday after your exertions.
The town’s numbers are swelled by about 20,000 during the race period, which helps create a great party atmosphere. The course itself consists of an out-and-back freshwater lake swim, two-lap ride on quiet tree-lined roads and two-lap run through the town. If you are new to the world of Ironman, this is an ideal event to participate in, and if you are a seasoned veteran, this race really should be on your to-do list.
Ironman 70.3 Pucón
Where: Pucón, Chile
Distances: 1.2 miles swim/56 mile cycle/13.1 miles run
Website: Ironman 70.3 Pucón
One of the most beautiful races in the world, Iroman Pucon is a great event which ensures that if you are going to suffer, you at least have something to look at while you do it. The swim take place in an M-shaped circuit on the tranquil Lake Villarica, while the cycle (two 45-km, or 27 mile laps) the run (3 laps of 7km or 4.3 miles) to finish take place under the watchful eye of active Villarica Volcano with its smoke billowing out.
Although numbers are small (around 800 competitors), the event attracts people from all around the world, making this a truly global event. In addition to the main race, there are other events that make it a family affair, including a Kids’ Challenge for teenagers and a Promotional Race for the even younger kids. It’s a truly breathtaking setting for your triathlon.
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