Before you trek to your next out-of-town race or training camp, consider how you could exercise the art of experiential travel.
The idea of slow travel is to choose experiences that connect you with local culture instead of just dropping in for a race and blazing through tourist sights. Fortunately, you already speak a global language: triathlon. With enthusiastic SBR communities across the globe, you have an easy port of entry to connect with locals and the opportunity to see destinations in a way that others can’t.
Presenting two destinations to inspire your next slow-cooked adventure.
Las Catalinas, Costa Rica
When to Go: Mid-December to April for the driest conditions
Why to Go Slow Here: With clear tropical waters, scenic trails, Kona-like conditions, and a leisure-paced culture, Costa Rica is paradise for the slow-traveling triathlete. The country’s pura vida (pure or simple life) is a core attribute. “Costa Ricans like to take their time to enjoy, get to know you as a person, savor conversation, and admire their environment,” says Krista Baker, CEO and co-founder of RaceQuest Travel, a triathlon training camp company based in Costa Rica. “Expect meals to take longer, but also expect them to be more satisfying—both nutritionally and emotionally. Costa Ricans are social, happy, giving, and always living in the moment.”
Go Pro: You can experience pura vida firsthand by joining an outfit like RaceQuest (Race-quest.com) for a training camp. Because the camp leaders are locals themselves, Baker says, “we constantly infuse our camps with local flavor, from transporting [guests] on shortcut back roads only known to the locals to buying fish from the local who caught it that morning.”
DIY: Leave your wetsuit at home and head to the stunning beaches where water temps stay in the 80s year-round. (Try: Playa del Coco, the swim site for the newly minted 70.3 Costa Rica.) Then head out for a ride. “I typically take my athletes out toward Villa Real where we start on a four-lane, well-paved road that is very safe. We then turn o to a beautiful stretch of road called ’27th of April,’” Baker says. Get in a long run on the 11.2-mile Las Catalinas Main Loop, featuring hilly single-track and 1,300 feet of climbing. Recover with a trip to the Arenal Volcano, a mineral springs soak in the rainforest, or a visit to Diamante Eco-Adventure Park (keep an eye out for your slow- travel spirit animal, the native sloth).
Bonus Tip: There are about a dozen organized races in the area, from bigger names like Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica (June) and XTERRA Costa Rica (March) to the off-road and epic ultra events hosted by Unlimited Costa Rica (Unlimitedcr.com).
Train with Locals
Cape Town, South Africa
When to Go: Late January through April for summer; May and June for cooler days
Why to Go Slow Here: It’s not a quick trip to reach the southern tip of Africa, which is why a Cape Town visit should be done with intention and a generous number of vacation days. The walkable city boasts the iconic Table Mountain, penguin-filled coves, and gourmet food and wine, and it also serves as a jumping o point to wine tasting, multi-day safaris, or whale-watching trips.
Make Friends: Cape Town’s triathlon scene continues to thrive. The ITU World Triathlete Series has returned every year since 2014, and South Africa’s biggest triathlon club, ATC Multisport, is based here. “South Africans are very hospitable and welcoming,” says ATC Chairman Steve Attwell. “Although we are humble, we love nothing more than boasting and showing o our beautiful country.”
American triathlete Jessica Frazier recently took a 10-day trip to Cape Town, during which helpful members of ATC quickly offered her bikes, wetsuits, and training advice. “There is something about being active that tends to draw people together,” Frazier says. “You instantly have a passion to discuss and form a bond around.”
Swim. Bike. Run. In addition to interacting with local athletes, Frazier says seeing the city through a multisport lens was incredible. “Triathlon really gives you the opportunity to totally immerse yourself in the beauty and nature in Cape Town,” she says. “Imagine driving over Chapman’s Peak in a car versus on a bicycle. On a bike, you get the full sensory experience: the smell of the salt ocean, the slight coastal breeze, the warmth of the sun on your back, and the breathtaking view of the vastness of the ocean and sunsets.”
Bonus Tip: ATC welcomes visitors to join its workouts, which include weekly club rides, a track session, and open-water swims near the popular shopping-food hub, V&A Waterfront. Contact the club (Atcmultisport.club) for help with training logistics.