With hundreds of triathlon events taking place across the UK every year, deciding which race to compete in can be a daunting task. This is why we’ve come up with a list of eight of our favourite races to help you decide. Covering the more manageable courses beginners will be happy to tackle, as well as the absolute beasts you need to be slightly bonkers to attempt, we’ve included an event for everyone. While varying in difficulty, all of these events promise incredible views, great support and an electric atmosphere to provide an experience you’ll never forget.
Location – Leeds, Yorkshire
Distances – Sprint distance, Standard distance, Go TRI, TriStar, Youth/Junior
Date – June
Number of athletes – 5,000
What to expect – ITU sees a good mix of both amateurs and professionals coming together for a great course in one of the series’ nine events held across the globe.
Starting off with a swim in Waterloo Lake, the race will then move to Roundhay park, with the run finishing at Millennium Square in Leeds city centre.
With a large range of distances to choose from and lots of support (2016 saw 80,000 spectators!), this is definitely one to add to the list. Not too difficult, but hard enough to give you a taste of a professional-level event.
Location – Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Distances – Sprint, Super Sprint
Date – June
Number of athletes – 7,000
What to expect – Blenheim Triathlon is widely recognised as one of the most stunning races in the world. Set against the backdrop of the glorious Blenheim Palace grounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the second largest triathlon in the UK. Offering a range of different distances, this event is perfect for beginners with loads of support from marshals and spectators.
Held over two days with different start times to stagger numbers, the race starts off with a fresh water lake swim, leading into a gentle bike course with undulating hills, before finishing off with the run. The atmosphere is brilliant and you can expect loads of incredible support.
Location – Bala, Wales
Distances – Standard distance, Middle distance
Date – June & September
Number of athletes – 500
What to expect – The Bala standard distance triathlon has a reputation as one of the toughest courses in the UK.
The race starts with a swim in Llyn Tegid, the largest freshwater lake in Wales. After that, the bike ride starts off around the lake before climbing into the valley; expect rolling hills with a few long stretches of open road. The run occurs on similar terrain, with the final two miles dragging slightly, so be sure to pace yourself!
Location – Gullane, Scotland
Distances – Standard
Date – July
Number of athletes – Approx 200
What to expect – This Scottish triathlon takes places along a beach on the East Lothian coast just outside of Edinburgh.
The gruelling sea swim is by far the most difficult part of the race – the Scottish weather is often fierce and unpredictable, so expect large waves and a tough swim if the weather is bad. The bike ride winds through a multi-lap track on open roads, with the run mainly taking place on dune-top tracks. This is difficult race made worth it by the spectacular beach views and fantastic support.
Location – Croyde, Devon
Distances – Standard Olympic distance + an additional 2km on the run
Time – July
Number of athletes – Approx 200
What to expect – This amazing race is accurately summed up by its tag-line as ‘Stunning & Savage’. Held in one of the most spectacular parts of the country, competitors can expect stunning views of the North Devon country.
Starting off with an ocean swim along Putsborough beach, there is a steep run into T1, a ride through the countryside of North Devon, and an extremely muddy and hilly off-road run. The run is slightly longer than the standard Olympic at 12km, but with stunning views of three bays and a run along the famous Croyde surfing beach, those extra 2km are well worth it.
Location – Windsor, Berkshire
Distances – Sprint distance, Olympic distance, Team relays
Time – June
Number of athletes – Approx 2,000
What to expect – The Windsor triathlon has been awarded the BTF’s event of the year prize seven years running, so you know it’s going to be a goodie!
Largely considered one of the best Olympic distance triathlons in the UK, this year is made extra special by the fact that for the first time competitors will get to run through the castle’s royal grounds.The race will start at gates of the castle with a run down to the river Thames to start the swim. After the swim, the cycle and run will continue on a route through Windsor Great Park along the Long Walk.
In its 27th year the Windsor triathlon has an incredible reputation and is definitely one to add to your bucket list.
Location – Bolton, Greater Manchester
Distances – Iron Man
Time – July
Number of athletes – 2,000
What to expect – Taking place in Bolton, the famous Iron Man Triathlon begins with a swim in Pennington Flash lake; from there, the bike ride weaves through Lancashire countryside, up the famous Sheep House Lane climb where spectators are allowed to get up close and personal with the athletes and cheer them on. After T2, the run begins at Macron Stadium and moves through the town centre, with three loops, before finishing under Albert’s Hall.
Location – London to Paris
Distances – 87 mile run, Swim the channel, Cycle 181 miles
What to expect – Only for the most experienced endurance triathletes; Enduroman starts with an 87 mile run from Marble Arch to Dover, followed by a casual swim across the channel, and a 181-mile bike ride from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe.
Not for the faint-hearted, you’ll need loads of proof of experience with endurance racing before even entering this event, including a minimum 6-mile swim in a sub 16-degree ocean.
Enter at your own risk!
Whether it is the Iron man in Bolton or the sprint at Blenheim Palace, participating in a triathlon is an incredible achievement and we wish anyone competing in an upcoming event the best of luck.
Other notable triathlons