Our pick of the bunch of first-timer friendly races from around the globe.
- IRONMAN AUSTRIA: Best for ambitious newbies
Where: Klagenfurt, Austria
When: 30 June, 2013
More Info: www.ironmanklagenfurt.com
Think ‘first-timer races’ and you probably don’t think of something involving 3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42km of running. But the popularity of Ironman racing worldwide is such that, for many triathletes, nothing but the challenge of a long-distance event will do for a first race. As long days out go they don’t get much more beginner friendly than Ironman in Klagenfurt, Austria, an early sell-out every year. The one-lap lake swim finishes with 900m in a canal feeding in to the lake, so navigation isn’t a problem and spectators line the route giving a unique chance to be cheered on during the swim. The two-lap ride on smooth roads isn’t flat, but the fact that this is the world-record Ironman course tells you all you need to know about its profile. A city-centre finish and huge crowds every year means your M-Dot experience will end on a high too.
- LOCH LOMOND HIGHLAND GAMES TRIATHLON: Best for trying off-road racing
Where: Balloch Castle Country Park, Scotland
When: 13 July, 2013
More Info: www.lomondmasters.co.uk
While we can’t guarantee warm water for this race – it is in a loch, after all – the 750m swim is perfect for first-timers, as it is shallow enough to stand up at any point on the swim course. The 12.5km bike route is both on and off road through the rugged wooded landscapes on the shores of Loch Lomond – make sure you save something in the tank for the hilly off-road run around Balloch Castle to the finish. The race limit of 150 athletes keeps things low key so you can be sure of avoiding a scrum on any part of the course. As part of the Loch Lomond Highland Games the emphasis is on fun and there’s plenty more to see and do if you take the family.
- SHOCK ABSORBER WOMEN ONLY TRIATHLON: Best for staying clear of the bunfight
Where: Dorney Lake, Berkshire, UK
When: 14 July, 2013
More Info: www.humanrace.co.uk
Women still only make up about a fifth of competitors in your average triathlon race but their numbers are growing fast, and the opportunity to race without the prospect of being lamped by a burly bloke during the swim or cut up on a corner on the bike is enough to recommend this female-only race to beginners. Of course, the fairer sex can be just as guilty of extreme competitiveness but our experience of this race is that it’s a uniquely welcoming and relaxed atmosphere for first-time women triathletes. The venue at Dorney Lake, Eton College’s rowing facility, offers a foolproof, traffic-free course and great facilities for families too.
- CHATEAU DE CHANTILLY TRIATHLON: Best for those with families
Where: Chantilly, France
When: 25 August, 2013
More Info: www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk
The Castle Triathlon series has been designed with family in mind – and we don’t mean leaving the kids in a crèche. There are options to get everyone involved in the racing, with Olympic-distance, sprint and relay races, Tri Star distances for budding triathletes, as well as special family entry packages to keep costs down. We can’t think of a better place to spend your August bank holiday this year – with warm weather (almost) guaranteed. The races take place in and around the stunning grounds of the Chateau de Chantilly, less than an hour’s drive from Paris or a couple of hours from the Calais Eurotunnel.
- BRIGHTON TRIATHLON: Best for an easy sea swim
Where: Brighton, UK
When: 23 September, 2013
More Info: www.brightonmarinatriathlon.co.uk
Described by the organisers as ‘the triathletes’ triathlon’, at first glance this may not seem the most beginner-friendly of races; the tough bike route over the Sussex Downs looks pretty daunting, for starters. But for those looking for a gentle introduction to sea swimming, it’s perfect since the swim in Brighton Marina is sheltered and calm. Once you’ve got that bike leg out of the way the run is flat and scenic, taking in the under cliff walk from the marina to Rottingdean. It’s a 1k/32k/8k route is a useful stepping stone for those not quite ready to move up to Olympic-distance racing. The low-cost and low-fuss nature of the event makes it a good option for those who don’t want to face huge crowds and never-ending racking at their first race.
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