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6 Great Triathlons for Beginners

Ready to give triathlon a try? These beginner-friendly races are a great place to start.

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These races are a great place to test your swim, bike and run, rookie-style.

Iron Girl

Various Locations and Dates
Sprint distance: 1/3-mile swim, 11.2-mile bike, 2-mile run

The women’s-only sister series to the global Ironman events, Iron Girl triathlons provide an encouraging environment for first-timers, fueled by the mission to “empower women toward a healthy lifestyle.” With gender-specific technical finishers’ shirts and Iron Girl jewelry as age-group awards, Iron Girl is a cool challenge to include in a getaway weekend with your BFFs. The next race is scheduled for April 2015 in Clearwater, FL but their entire 2015 schedule will be announced soon.

ƒChallenge Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Oct. 5, 2014
Half-iron distance: 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

If you’re ready, willing and able to tackle the half-iron distance, Challenge Rancho Cordova will make your novice long-course race one to remember with the calm, clean water of the Nimbus Dam and a rolling ride through Northern California farmland and vineyards. If going the distance solo seems too daunting, try the relay division—a feature at all Challenge Family events. And per the company’s credo, family members are encouraged to join athletes as they cross the finish line to celebrate their accomplishment, so be sure to bring your personal fan club along to enjoy this genuine family affair.


Naples, FL
Jan. 10-11, 2015
Open distance: 100-meter swim, 3-mile bike, 1-mile run Sprint distance: 750-meter swim, 12.4-mile bike, 3.1-mile run

The HITS series offers a unique opportunity on the triathlon calendar, wherein each event weekend features five race distances ranging from open (created especially for newbies) to full distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). Target the Naples open or sprint in early January as a fitness-focused New Year’s resolution for your rookie season. The flat, fast course and beautiful beaches are bound to provide an enjoyable experience, and the versatility of the HITS series makes this race a worthy annual event to gauge your progress through the sport.

Wildflower Triathlon Festival

Lake San Antonio, Calif.
May 1-3, 2015
Mountain bike sprint distance: .25-mile swim, 9.7-mile bike, 2-mile run Olympic distance: 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Wildflower is not widely viewed as a beginner race—and indeed the tough-as-nails long course is best savored with a bit more experience. But the mountain bike race—a sprint distance traversing a blend of paved and dirt roads and lacking Wildflower’s legendary run climbs—or the Olympic distance—challenging and hilly, but not horrendous—are ones to consider. The awesome festival atmosphere and campsite-only accommodations at Wildflower make the entire weekend wild and wacky and guarantee that your first triathlon experience will be a fun one.

Rev3-Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
June 2015
Olympic .9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run

Rev3’s family-friendly vibe and focus on age-group competitors make the series a must-do for any multisport athlete. We recommend the Wisconsin Dells race (try the beginner-friendly Olympic distance) despite a hilly bike and run. The community’s warm Midwest hospitality will surely melt away any muscle pain you might feel, plus the venue provides a perfect playground for post-race recovery: Wisconsin Dells boasts the largest concentration of water parks in the world.

TriRock Triathlon Series

An extension of the popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series, TriRock triathlon races merge rock ‘n’ roll music and red carpet treatment with short-course multisport action. Starting with a live band jamming on a catamaran in the water and finishing with a kick-up-your-heels post-race concert, the on-course entertainment will keep your pace high and your smile bright throughout the day. Beginners benefit from marked buoys every 100 meters along the swim course, the ease of individually assigned bike racks, and the enjoyment—and education—of a two-day health and fitness expo, while competitive athletes vie for three-deep category awards. And with sprint- and Olympic-distance courses in seven happen-ing endurance hubs across the country, there’s plenty of opportunity to rock as a triathlon rookie! The next events are Clearwater, FL (Nov. 9) and Philadelphia (June 2015).