We’ve picked the most inspiring events that you need to tick off your list before you pop your race clogs.
- BLENHEIM TRIATHLON
Where: Blenheim, UK
When: 8-9 June, 2013
More Info: www.theblenheimtriathlon.com
Not many events have transition in a palace courtyard and for grandeur, this event just can’t be beaten. This sprint (and super sprint) distance race is held entirely within the grounds of one of Britain’s most picturesque stately homes – a World Heritage Site, no less – so not only do you get to compete in glorious surroundings, you get traffic-free roads too. Nearly 6,000 entrants took part last year, making Blenheim the second largest triathlon in the UK, after London. It attracts a high-quality elite field too – Alistair and Johnny Brownlee were the 2012 champions. If you’re after a big, high profile race over a shorter distance, Blenheim has to be top of your list.
- WINDSOR TRIATHLON
Where: Windsor, UK
When: 16 June, 2013
More Info: www.humanrace.co.uk
The River Thames, Windsor Castle, Eton College… there’s a whole lot of Englishness running through the veins of the Windsor Triathlon. It’s not just the magnificent backdrop that makes this such a fantastic event, though. The organisation, the fabulous atmosphere and the prestige of competing in one of Britain’s premier races have all attracted many of the biggest triathlon names from home and abroad over the years, along with many thousands of age groupers. It’s no wonder that Windsor has been voted the country’s top triathlon about a zillion times now. Plus, just 30mins from central London, Windsor is easy to get to from… well, pretty much anywhere. And although primarily known as a standard-distance event, you can plump for the sprint option if you prefer.
- TRIATHLON ALPE D’HUEZ
When: 24 July, 2013
More Info: www.alpetriathlon.com
Alpe’d’huez is regarded as one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour De France, and has provided many a cycling spectacle over the last century; who can forget Coppi’s brave attack 6km from the top, or Armstrong’s infamous ‘look’ back at Ulrich on his way to winning the yellow jersey in 2001? Since 2006 the mystical climb has formed the centerpiece of one of the most inspiring and popular triathlons on the planet. While the views and weather are incredible, the course is brutal; competitors have to climb two other mountain passes before they even get to Alpe d’huez. The good news is that the run goes around the top of the mountain – it’s not flat, but you descend as much as you climb, which is probably just as well. We’ve all dreamt of making the break for victory when doing hill reps, now you can experience the glamour of riding up Alpe d’Huez yourself, only weeks after the Tour passes through, with the names of your bike heroes still freshly painted on the roads.
Where: Rutland Water, Leicestershire, UK
When: 31 August, 2013
More Info: www.pacesetterevents.com
You need to be swift even to get an entry into the Vitruvian. Although it has only been around since 2003, this event has quickly become one of the most prestigious in the UK and places sell out quicker than proverbial hotcakes. What makes it so popular? There are plenty of similar length races out there (1.9km swim, 85km bike, 21km run), but the Vitruvian just gets everything right. The swim is in the pretty Rutland Water, the bike is a challenging affair through rural Leicestershire, and the run takes you around the shores of the lake so at least you have attractive scenery to take your mind off your aching legs and lungs. And everything is two laps, so you get the encouragement of the crowd halfway through each discipline to help you along the way. It truly is one of the gems of British triathlon.
- IRONMAN HAWAII
Where: Hawaii, USA
When: 13 October, 2013
More Info: www.ironman.com
Well, it’s got to be here, hasn’t it? Ironman Hawaii, the original Ironman, is the most famous triathlon on the planet – the one that all your non-believer mates have heard of. The fact that it’s the Ironman World Championship, so you can only race if you’ve qualified at another Ironman (unless you get in via the lottery), just adds to the reverence and appeal. Julie Moss crawling over the finish line back in 1982, Dave Scott’s legendary head-to-head battles with Mark Allen in the 1980s, Paula Newby-Fraser’s record eight titles, Britain’s Chrissie Wellington winning at her first attempt in 2007… Ironman Hawaii oozes history. And the Pacific heat and wind make a ridiculously tough event even tougher. Put it all together and you end up with the ultimate triathlon.
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