From the gin-clear and bathtub warm waters of Hawaii to the ice-cold North Atlantic, the United States has got some amazing triathlons. None of them are easy, but all of them should be on your bucket list. Take a look.
Set in beautiful Freeport, Maine, the Olympic-distance Lobsterman draws a sell-out crowd from across the US. The epic post-race lobster bake is not to be missed.
Des Moines, Iowa is not on the list of vacation hot spots for most people, but for top-tier triathletes, this one is not to be missed. With very large prize purses for the elites, the Hy-Vee brings in the best in the world.
XTerra World Championship
So, who wants to go to Maui? This race takes place in Kapalua, Maui and has a stunning 1.5-kilometer swim, a challenging off-road mountain bike leg, and a hilly trail run.
70.3 World Championship
Entry to this race is by qualification only. But for those who have what it takes, it’s a memorable experience. Set in Henderson, Nevada, just minutes from Las Vegas, it’s hot and hilly.
Los Angeles Triathlon
This is a race to make you feel like a rock star. You start in Venice Beach (often in fairly big surf), and the bike takes you down a completely closed Venice Boulevard, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. The second transition area is downtown and the two-loop run goes through the financial district with one gnarly hill next to the Disney Concert Hall.
Ironman 70.3 St. George
Beautiful red rocks, a scenic and hilly bike, and a relatively easy run highlight this early season race. Close proximity to Utah’s national parks make this one a great family vacation triathlon.
USAT Age Group Nationals
The prestige of competing against the best age groupers in the country is what draws some 3,500 athletes to Milwaukee. The course goes in and and around Lake Michigan.
One of the biggest triathlons in the country, and with the majority of participants camping out in a festival-like atmosphere, Wildflower is the Woodstock of triathlon.
ITU World Triathlon San Diego
Set in the birthplace of triathlon (San Diego, California), this event features a calm swim in the bay, a mostly-flat and fast bike course, and a hot and sunny run along a waterfront path. Aside from participating in the age group race, this is a rare opportunity to see some of the fastest Olympians compete in the draft-legal format.
Ironman 70.3 Boulder
An exceptionally fast course draws many to this event, which typically sells out very quickly. And, with Boulder being a popular training ground, the elite field is often quite strong.
With Austin being the “live music capital of the world” you’d expect some tunes on this course, and they deliver. It’s the only triathlon that we know of that features a floating band for the swim course. With part of the bike course on Congress Street, this one takes in the sights.
Ironman 70.3 New Orleans
New Orleans is just a great town, and great towns make great venues for triathlons. The swim is a little odd in a compact harbor, but the bike course takes you around New Orleans and through a national wildlife refuge, while the run takes in the glorious sights of this city.
Ironman Lake Placid
Located in the beautiful Adirondack mountains, at the site of two Olympic games, this triathlon is very nice. Two laps in the lake, a nice ride through the mountains, and a run through town and around the lake.
New York City Triathlon
Swim in the Hudson River, bike along the West Side Highway, and run all through Central Park. This is a big one in the nation’s biggest city.
Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
Want to race in the big Kona race, but can’t seem to qualify? This one is for you. With much of the course matching the big October event, you can see if you’ve got what it takes.
Ironman 70.3 Vineman
Limited to 2,300 athletes, this one sells out very quickly, so if you want to race here, you’d better plan ahead. Race through Sonoma County’s vineyards and enjoy a few glasses afterward.
This is the biggest triathlon in the country, with 5,303 finishers in 2012. Start in Monroe Harbor, bike along Lakeshore Drive and finish with a run on the streets of downtown Chicago.
There’s the Olympic distance race on Saturday, followed by the much-larger Sprint race on Sunday. The Sunday race features a celebrity division, enabling you to claim bragging rights over your favorite movie stars. Plan ahead for the Sprint, though, as it sells out in hours.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
You start by jumping off a ferry boat into the frigid San Francisco Bay. There are 2,000 people on the boat, and less than seven minutes, everybody is in the water. The bike is hilly and technical, but every part of it takes in another part of beautiful San Francisco. The run is the longest eight miles you’ll experience, with big hills, soft sand running, and the infamous “sand ladder,” but the finish is a glorious one-mile descent onto Marina Green.
Ironman World Championship
The big daddy. This is the race that everybody wants to claim to have completed. The frighteningly rigorous qualification standards, though, mean that only an elite few can. If you can get in, though, you’re racing with some of the best athletes in the world. Covered in a spectacular broadcast by NBC, you might get famous, too.