The Toughest Triathlons

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The Toughest Triathlons

Devoting equal training time to running, cycling and swimming is a challenge when you consider many triathletes also go to school, work and raise families. Choosing from more than 3,000 USA Triathlon-sanctioned events is a competitive task. Triathletes like to defy logic, common sense and their own limits, forgoing easier events and demanding more of themselves. After a few local sprint, international and Olympic-level triathlons, here are several ambitious events to consider:

Devoting equal training time to running, cycling and swimming is a challenge when you consider many triathletes also go to school, work and raise families. Choosing from more than 3,000 USA Triathlon-sanctioned events is a competitive task. Triathletes like to defy logic, common sense and their own limits, forgoing easier events and demanding more of themselves. After a few local sprint, international and Olympic-level triathlons, here are several ambitious events to consider:

 

By Distance:

 

IRONMAN races are the most difficult by distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run). There are 39 IRONMAN events, according to the World Triathlon Corporation. The most elite of the group is IRONMAN Kona, which requires a qualifying event for entry. Other organizations offer triathlons at the full and half IRONMAN distance, including Challenge Family and TriFind's list of non-WTC events.

 

By Terrain:

 

Leadman Triathlon: A big event in Bend, OR every April, this race has no swim. It features a one-mile ski or snowboard, 11 mile bike ride and five-mile run. The race raises money for local charities, and features a post-race barbecue and music bash at the host Silver Mountain Resort.

 

SavageMan Half: Part of the Virginia/Maryland Triathlon Series, this September race refunds your money if you prove you've done a tougher triathlon. The swim is just over a mile and it's the easy part. The 56 mile bike ride features a 25% uphill gradient for more than half the course, followed by a double uphill run for 13 miles. The website calls the bike and run courses "hilly," a definite understatement.

 

By Altitude:

 

IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder: The race features stunning scenery but you'll need altitude training for this half-distance event, since it starts at over 5,000 feet above sea level and keeps going up for an additional 1,800 feet.  

 

June Lake Triathlon: This event is a fundraiser for disabled athletes in California's Eastern Sierra region. Chilly water temperatures and a bike climb from 6,500 to 7,750 feet in the Inyo National Forest means this race lives up to the moniker "The Toughest Race In The Most Beautiful Place."