Triathlete’s 2023 Guide to the Best 70.3 and Half-Iron Races in the U.S.A.
Looking to go long (but not too long) in 2023? We picked 12 of our favorite 70.3- and half iron-distance triathlon events in four regions across the U.S.—we’ve got a big dose of sea salt, SoCal beach vibes, monster tri festivals, and more.
One of the most popular triathlon distances, the 70.3, or half-iron, provides a great challenge without the extensive time commitment required to train for a full iron-distance race. Whether you choose an Ironman-branded 70.3 or a local event, there are so many great options across the country for beginners, PR-chasers, age-groupers, and podium aspirants alike. With new events being added every year, (like two on this list) and historic races that are celebrating their 21st and 39th anniversaries, there is something for everyone in our guide to the best 70.3-distance races in 2023.
Plotting out your 2023 triathlon season? Be sure to check out our full collection of 2023 race guides, featuring the best races in the U.S.A. for every level of triathlete, from beginners to Iron-distance.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Early Season SoCal Beach Vibes
April 1, 2023
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside is a West Coast favorite among competitors and spectators alike because of its chill California vibe and beachside setting. This race also sees a huge and competitive pro contingent, because it’s the first race on the North American circuit. This year, the event will also be the North American Tri Club Championship for the Southwest region. Athletes should be prepared to push through the waves past the break during the saltwater beach-start swim in Oceanside Harbor. Once on the bike, competitors will get a rare opportunity to ride through Camp Pendleton, an active military base and head inland to face San Mateo Hill and two other notable climbs. (Be aware of the 25 mph downhill speed limit on Basilone Road around mile 39, or face a potential DQ – you’ll pick up speed fast in this section without realizing it.) The run ranges from flat to undulating with a few short, punchy inclines that goes from Oceanside Pier down onto the harbor, the strand, and through coastal neighborhoods to the finish. The run is very spectator-friendly, so expect huge crowds of cheering fans gathered along the palm-tree lined roads.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: A Big Dose of Sea Salt
70.3 Morro Bay
May 20, 2023
Morro Bay, CA
A brand new race in 2023, the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Morro Bay will join Oceanside, Indian Wells, and Santa Cruz to round out a great series of half-iron races on the California circuit. A peaceful, seaside village, Morro Bay is nestled between San Francisco and Santa Barbara with a mild Mediterranean climate. It’s home to one of the most iconic landmarks on the Pacific Coast, the magnificent Morro Rock, which should be visible during a chilly swim in the protected bay that’s home to sea otters, Peregrine falcons, and sea lions. The bike is expected to take athletes over rolling hills through vineyards with incredible views of the ocean. The run should be primarily flat, but has the potential for a few rolling hills. The finish line will definitely be among the most scenic on the circuit as the run takes athletes along the Embarcadero, a vibrant strip of oceanside restaurants and shops with great views of Morro Rock.Section divider
The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Literally Climbing a Mountain
Pacific Crest Endurance Festival Beastman 70.3
June 16-18, 2023
If you’re interested in a non-Ironman branded 70.3, look no further than the Beastman 70.3 during the Pacific Crest Endurance Festival. This will be the 27th anniversary of an event that also hosts Olympic and sprint triathlons, duathlons, a half-marathon/10K/5K, kids race, and 35K and 50K trail runs. All of the options—combined with spectacular scenery—make this a popular choice for an active family race-cation, but be aware that this event often sells out. During Beastman, athletes will complete a chilly (62-66 degrees F) swim downriver in the Deschutes. The bike course is how the race gets its name, with a 14 mile, 2,000 ft. ascent up Mt. Bachelor to an elevation of 6,419 ft. before athletes are rewarded with an exhilarating descent back down to the finish. Thankfully, the run is mostly flat on a bike path next to the river. Finisher’s swag in the past has included items like a beach towel, water bottle, and hoodie, but the medals are the coup de grace: If you race every day of the festival, you receive a three-headed beast dog medal complete with snarling teeth.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: A World Championship Course
Ironman 70.3 St. George
May 6, 2023
St. George, UT
Over the past two years, St. George, Utah has been the site of epic races in the desert during the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and IM World Championship. Athletes will get to experience part of those legendary courses during 70.3 St. George as they travel through two state parks, basalt lava fields, and red rock mountains in the aptly named “Land of Endurance.” The swim takes place in the azure blue waters of Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah, with temperatures ranging between 60-64 degrees F. In the past, the bike course has treated athletes to awe-inspiring scenery through desert vistas to the signature climb in Snow Canyon. The run has taken different routes in the past, but a common thread is a gradual climb up Red Hills Parkway through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve for an incredible view of the city atop the bluff before heading back down to the finish line on Main Street. This event will also be the North American Championship for 2023.
RELATED: Photos: Age-Groupers Take on 70.3 Worlds in St. GeorgeSection divider
The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Homegrown Racing
June 3-4, 2023
Show Low, AZ
The Deuces Wild Endurance Festival is another great option for a non-Ironman branded 70.3. Held in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona, this event offers the Deuceman half-iron, Olympic, sprint, kids triathlon, super-sprint off-road triathlon, and running events. Combine the different distances to complete festival challenges like “The Royal Flush” and “Full House.” The race takes place in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest at the Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area. The swim is a chilly 58-65 degrees so wetsuits are highly encouraged. The bike course returns to its traditional route in 2023 taking athletes on a hilly tour of the high desert and small Arizona towns. The run starts on a groomed, scenic trail around Fool Hollow Lake and goes into the campground (where you’ll have plenty of spectator cheers) before circling back to the finish line.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Rocky Mountain Racing
Ironman 70.3 Boulder
June 10, 2023
Boulder is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and home to many pro triathletes. Always a popular choice for age-groupers, the Ironman 70.3 Boulder race will celebrate its 21st anniversary in 2023. The swim takes place in “the Rez,” (Boulder Reservoir). The fast bike course traverses the rolling hills of Boulder County, rewarding athletes with stunning views of the Flatirons with reasonable elevation gain of 2,000 ft. The two-loop run is very unique as most of it is on dirt gravel roads with minimal gain. But if you’re coming from out of state, keep in mind that your body may need time to adjust to the higher altitude. Also, it will be toasty in Boulder in the summer, with average temps of 86 degrees.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Flat And Fast Racing
Ironman 70.3 Texas
April 2, 2023
A beachside race probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas, but Galveston is an entirely unique part of the Lone Star State. Because the early-season Ironman 70.3 Texas has a flat and fast course, it’s popular with PR-chasers looking for a personal best. The saltwater swim is unique in that it begins at Moody Garden’s white sand beach, goes through the protected Offats Bayou, and finishes next to the Colonel Paddlewheel boat. Although the bike is flat, it’s often windy because the out-and-back course runs along the Gulf Coast. The multi-loop run goes along the bayou and Palm Beach to a finish at Discovery Pyramid. After the race, be sure to stop by Pleasure Pier, a vintage amusement park located along the ocean.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Big, Bad Bluffs
Door County Half Iron
July 16, 2023
Door County, WI
Are you tough enough to conquer The Bluff? The Door County Half Iron Triathlon will put athletes to the test with a challenging, but incredibly scenic course in Wisconsin. The event hosts a sprint and kids triathlon on July 15th and a 70.3 on the 16th, so it’s a great choice for a family tri-cation. Referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Door County is known for its sandy shorelines and majestic bluffs. The race begins in the clear waters of Horseshoe Bay where athletes enter the swim from a sandy beach, making the nearby pier a perfect spot for spectators to watch all the action. The bike course has a 13-mile flat section along the shoreline, but then rises up the Niagara Escarpment, also known as “the Bluff,” for 4.5 miles with 240 ft. of gain. But what goes up must come down, and there are some steep, fast descents on this course. The run goes north to Egg Harbor, up the infamous Bluff Pass Road with another 200 feet of climbing in ½ mile, through the stone fences of the Horseshoe Bay Golf Course, and a descent to the finish.Section divider
The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Southern Charm
Ironman 70.3 Memphis
October 7, 2023
This late-season race in West Tennessee is centered around Shelby Farms Park. The swim in Hyde Lake is great for spectators because a paved walkway circles the exterior of the course. The one-loop bike goes through hills into Fayette County with a bit of chip seal and 2,400 feet. of gain. The run has some hills as well, but goes onto the tree-lined, well-shaded Chickasaw Trail. A unique part of this event is that athletes will have the opportunity to run through a line of banners that display the photos and stories of patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is headquartered in Memphis. As far as race swag goes, Memphis is known for its epic medals. 2021 had an Elvis theme, while 2022 featured a buffalo— one of which you might see roaming in the park during the race!
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: All The Bells and Whistles
Florida Challenge Intimidator
March, 12, 2023
Sommer Sports is celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2023 with a special two-day event that includes the historic Great Clermont Triathlon and the Florida Challenge Intimidator. Race weekend will include sprint and Olympic triathlons and duathlons, as well as an aquabike, relay, half-iron, and a 1.2-mile open-water swim. 2023 marks the 39th running of The Intimidator in South Florida. The swim takes place in the waters of Lake Minneola, and while you might think “flat” when you think of Florida, Clermont is surprisingly hilly! The bike course goes through the scenic rural roads of Lake County with a challenging climb up the infamous Sugarloaf Mountain. The run is flat along the lakeside on South Lake Trail. Sommer Sports is known for putting on events that feel like hometown races but have all the bells and whistles of a large event. Look for an amazing afterparty at the pavilion with DJ-style music, a food tent full of fruit, cookies, and cotton candy, and the famed “PR Bell” to celebrate your accomplishments. Combine the half with one of the short-distance races the day before, and you will receive a special medal.Section divider
The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Hill Country Scenery
May 21, 2023
Chattanooga is called the Scenic City for good reason as it’s tucked along the Tennessee River and surrounded by Lookout Mountain, Rock City, and Ruby Falls. The Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga race is one of the most highly-attended in North America, is a great choice for beginners, and is known for incredible spectator support. Chattanooga is so popular with triathletes that the city also hosts a full-distance race four months later. The downriver swim is typically wetsuit legal and great for spectators as it takes athletes underneath the Veterans, Market Street, and Walnut Street bridges. The swim might have a lot of current, or no current, depending on dam release that day. The bike course is one of the most rural and scenic, with limited road traffic, taking riders through North Georgia and views of Lookout Mountain to the rolling hills outside Chattanooga and fast descents in historic Chickamauga. The two loop run course is hilly and unique in that it takes runners into several distinct areas: the shaded Tennessee Riverwalk, across the Walnut Street Bridge, and into downtown by the Aquarium and ice cream shop. The Walnut Street Bridge is closed to pedestrian traffic, so look for a great spectator presence. The last two years have been very hot, so prepare accordingly.
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The best 70.3/half-iron triathlon for: Quaint Northeastern Countryside
July 30, 2023
Known for lobster rolls, blueberry fields, and a picturesque lakefront, Augusta, Maine, was the new site of the Ironman 70.3 Maine race in 2022. Returning to the same location next year, this event is one of contrasts. You might expect cool temperatures in the north, but the 2022 race wasn’t even wetsuit legal. However, the swim is blazing fast down the Kennebec River. A unique race start experience, athletes begin at the start of cannon-fire from Old Fort Western, the oldest wooden fort in America. The swim exit has an extended steep climb up to the rail trail above and then another climb to transition. The bike course is a beast with 3,087 feet of elevation gain that takes riders out of the capital, across the river, and into downtown Augusta before heading back over the river into Richmond. Filled with lakes, farms, and hills, expect a challenging, but picturesque course. Although the run is flat-ish along the tree-lined Kennebec River Rail Trail, there are a few steep inclines that are quad burners by the second lap. In 2023, this event will be the North American TriClub Championship for the Northeast.