Written by

Ben Parker

May 3, 2023

Test Yourself at the 9 Best Triathlons in the World

Are you ready to push your limits and embark on a journey that will test your endurance, strength and mental fortitude? Well, you’ve landed in the right place because nothing is going to check your mettle more than a triathlon. Designed to bring the ultimate challenge to some of the most breathtaking places on the planet, these three-discipline races are not for the faint of heart, but for those seeking the ultimate thrill and an unmatched sense of accomplishment.

A group of people running.

From picturesque landscapes to legendary races, we've scoured the globe to bring you the nine of the very best (and possibly most challenging) triathlons on the globe; the kind that will leave you breathless, both figuratively and literally. Luckily, our Triathlon Running Plans are on hand to help you crush the running leg, no matter which event you pick. Now get ready to dive into the world of triathlons, Runna-style. 

A person cycling.

Ironman World Championship

Where: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Dubbed the "Super Bowl" of triathlons, the Ironman World Championship is the pinnacle of the sport that has to be seen to be believed, and even then you may find yourself with pinch marks up and down your arms as you try to take it all in. Starting with a swim through the crystal-clear waters of Hawaii’s coastline, you’ll then cycle along the endless lava fields, before trying to conquer the grueling marathon – all while being cheered on by the incredible crowds that line this route. Just be aware that the majestic backdrop of Hawaii's Big Island will add an extra layer of awe-inspiring beauty to this iconic race in a way that could leave you catching your breath. 

A beautiful view of a island.

Escape from Alcatraz

Where: San Francisco, California

Picture this: You plunge into the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay, as images of Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery burst into your brain, before you take on the truly challenging swim between the notorious Alcatraz Island and the mainland. Then, once you’ve conquered the unpredictable currents and tides, you'll transition into a scenic bike ride along some of the most incredible parts of California and across the Golden Gate Bridge, where you’ll finish off with a challenging run through the insanely hilly streets of San Francisco. Trust us: this triathlon is an event like no other.

Men running through the water.

Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

Where: Eidfjord, Norway

Prepare to experience the ultimate test of physical and mental strength in the land of the Vikings. Yeah, you might want to read that again to let that sink in because this triathlon is not for the faint of heart. Instead, the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon takes you on a journey through the breathtaking fjords and mountains of Norway, testing you every single step, stroke and push along the way. With a frigid swim, a mountainous bike ride and a final run to the majestic peak of Gaustatoppen, this race will push you to your limits in the most epic way possible, no ifs or buts. 

A running competition arena.

Challenge Roth

Where: Roth, Germany

Welcome to the triathlon mecca of Europe: Challenge Roth. That might sound strange given this event is held in the small German town of Roth, but that’s part of the package that makes this race such a bucket list item for so many athletes. Embodying the true spirit of the sport, Challenge Roth serves up an experience that you’ll never forget on a flat and fast course that has a potential PR written all over it. Taking you through the beautiful Bavarian landscapes, with enthusiastic crowds cheering you on every step of the way, you’ll eventually finish the race in the iconic Triathlon Stadium, a place where legends are made.

People running with a landscape behind.

Triathlon Alpe D’Huez

Where: Alpe D’Huez, France

Get ready to conquer the legendary Triathlon Alpe d'Huez, a race that takes endurance to new heights – literally. Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, this triathlon is a test of strength, stamina and mental grit. Diving into the crystal-clear waters of Lac du Verney, the swim stage is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, which you’ll quickly come to hate as you embark on the challenging bike leg, taking on the 21 hairpin bends and epic vistas. Then, to finish, you’ll run through charming alpine villages. One thing is for sure: the Triathlon Alpe d'Huez is not for the weak of heart—it's for those ready to unleash their inner mountain goat.

A man on the top of the mountains.

Challenge Wanaka

Where: Wanaka, New Zealand

Hiding amongst the soul-stirring landscapes of New Zealand's South Island, Challenge Wanaka is a race that will leave you both spellbound and out of breath in equal measures. Kicking things off with a swim in the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka, you’ll then bike through awe-inspiring mountain ranges, before taking on the trails that run along the shores of incredible Lake Hawea in a race that showcases the raw beauty of New Zealand, while challenging your physical and mental limits in three different disciplines.

A beautiful city and a beach.

Chicago Triathlon

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Get ready to dive into this infamous urban jungle as you aim to conquer the iconic Chicago Triathlon. With the city's stunning skyline as your backdrop, you’ll swim in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan, before hopping onto your bike to cycle along the vibrant city streets and then ending with a run that takes you back along the lakefront that sits between sky-tickling buildings and endless stretch of glistening water. Yeah, this race is the perfect blend of urban energy and natural beauty, giving you a totally unique triathlon experience.

Multiple women running in a triathlon.

Noosa Triathlon

Where: Noosa Heads, Australia

Get ready to soak up the sun, embrace the beach vibes and unleash your inner athlete as you take on the Noosa Triathlon, a race that blends sport and paradise. Held in the idyllic coastal town of Noosa Heads, this triathlon is a must for adrenaline junkies. Diving into the iconic waters of Main Beach, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a sea of colorful swim caps and splashing, before you transition onto a cycle route that winds through hinterlands. But the real highlight of the race is the unforgettable run leg, where you'll pound the pavement alongside Noosa's stunning coastline, fueled by the electric atmosphere. The Noosa Triathlon is not just a race; it's a celebration of athleticism, camaraderie and the joy of pushing your limits in one of the world's most beautiful locations.

A running arena for competitions.

Blenheim Palace Triathlon

Where: Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Prepare to be blown away by the sheer grandeur and elegance of the Blenheim Palace Triathlon, a race that effortlessly combines athleticism with historical splendor. Set amidst a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Oxfordshire, this triathlon takes you on a journey through centuries of majestic architecture and sprawling parklands. From the chilly waters of the Great Lake that surround the palace to the challenging bike course that winds through chocolate box villages and undulating countryside, to the captivating run around the palace grounds, the Blenheim Palace Triathlon is the perfect triathlon for beginners that want a memorable experience.

Thanks for reading our guide to the best triathlons around the world. For more running insights, inspirations, stories and techniques, follow us on Instagram and Facebook -- or simply check out our Triathlon Running Plan at Runna to take your runs to the next level. 

Similar articles