Triathlete’s 2023 Guide to the Best Sprint and Olympic Races in the U.S.A.
Looking to unleash your short-course speed in 2023? We picked 12 of our favorite sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlon events in each region across the country in categories like Best Race for Celeb Sightings, Best Race for Spectators, Best Race for Desertscapes, and more.
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Long-course triathlons might get more attention than their short-course counterparts, but don’t count them out if you’re looking for a fantastic race experience in 2023. Short and speedy, sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons are popular among novice triathletes and seasoned veterans alike for their manageable distance, easy logistics, and relaxed atmosphere. These distances can also be used as a timely tune-up for a 70.3 or full-distance race, so be sure to put a few of our favorite local treasures on your calendar for the new year.
We’ve rounded up the best sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons offered in 2023. From the verdant forests of Oregon and impressive peaks in Arizona to the sandy beaches of Florida and nautical neighborhoods of Maryland, there are so many fantastic local races in the U.S. that it would take a lifetime to do them all. Here are a few of our favorites.
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 sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Killer Views
Mountain Man July Triathlon
July 16, 2023
Since 1984, Mountain Man Triathlons have hosted some of the longest-running events in the West. Their July triathlon offers super sprint, sprint, and Olympic distances on a course with views that are second to none. The San Francisco Peaks, Lake Mary, and Mormon Lake provide a stunning backdrop for race day with blossoming flora and fauna that is a trademark for this region in the summertime. The swim takes place in the City of Flagstaff Reservoir with temperatures around 68-71 degrees F. While the sprint bike course is relatively flat, the Olympic does have some climbing with rewarding views of Mormon Lake and the San Francisco Peaks. The run is an out and back course on paved roads along Lake Mary. In the past, a local artist has designed incredible, hand-carved trophies for the overall winners. They’re well-deserved, because at 7,000 feet of elevation, this event is billed as “the toughest race you’ll ever love.”Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Tri Cowboys and Cowgirls
Best In The West Triathlon Festival
September 9-10, 2023
Sweet Home, OR
The Best In the West Triathlon is more a multi-sport extravaganza than just a race. Located in the picturesque town of Sweet Home, Oregon, the event takes place in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range at Foster Reservoir with snow-fed water that hovers around 72 degrees F. The event is almost as well known for their welcoming and inclusive environment—with numerous race distances and kids events—as they are for their post-race shenanigans like the Saturday night beer mile relay and athlete social. Wholly embracing the “Wild West” theme, you can always recognize race directors, Staci and Blair Bronson in their cowboy hats and aviators, kicking off the event with a literal shotgun start. After the race, enjoy a celebration at the chuck wagon BBQ with favorites like pulled pork, grilled zucchini, corn on the cob, and giant, homemade cookies. Or head over to the saloon for a cold beer or cider to enjoy while you take a photo with your horseshoe award in front of the town jail.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Celeb Sightings
2XU Malibu Triathlon
Sept. 30- Oct. 1, 2023
With its beautiful, beachside setting on the California Coast, the Malibu Triathlon is a race favorite with a traditional Olympic distance and a classic sprint distance with a .5-mile swim, 17-mile bike, and 4-mile run. Serving dual roles as a huge fundraiser, this event helps raise over $1 million each year for pediatric cancer research at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Given the event’s close proximity to L.A., you’re bound to see a few celebrities on the racecourse: Past competitors have included Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Minnie Driver, Teri Hatcher, Mario Lopez, Will Ferrell, and Zac Efron. If swimming in the Pacific Ocean, biking on the Pacific Coast Highway, and running along the sands of Zuma Beach sounds like a good time, the Malibu Triathlon is the race for you.
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The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Red Rock Desertscapes
Sand Hollow Sprint/Olympic Triathlon
May 20, 2023
The site of the recent 70.3 World Championship and Ironman World Championship, St. George, Utah, is home to stunning scenery that makes for a challenging, but epic race. Now, you have the opportunity to tackle a shorter distance on part of the course with the Sand Hollow Triathlon in nearby Hurricane. The water temperature of Sand Hollow Reservoir is ideal in May, and the sun rising over the massive, red, sandstone formations is truly something to behold. This event offers a sprint and Olympic triathlon, as well as a sprint duathlon and an Olympic aquabike. The Olympic bike course does two laps on the challenging climbs coming out of the reservoir, so be sure to have your small gears handy.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: High-Altitude Climbing
Boulder Peak Triathlon
July 16, 2023
A triathlon mecca, Boulder, Colorado, is the site of one of the country’s longest-running triathlons and the crown jewel of the Colorado Triathlon Series. Only limited to 700 competitors, Boulder Peak Triathlon has sold out in the past due to its popularity. The race offers an Olympic triathlon, duathlon, and aquabike, as well as a relay option. The swim consists of a straightforward, one-loop course in Boulder Reservoir, and there’s even a special wave for first-timers. The bike course takes athletes along the rolling, rural roads of Boulder County to the highlighted “Old Stage Climb” with an average 15% grade! The 10K out and back run is flat and fast along a dirt road next to the reservoir. A great bonus is that event producer, Without Limits Productions, offers race discounts for volunteer hours logged at their many events.
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The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Taking The Leap
Coeur D’Alene Triathlon
August 12, 2023
Coeur D’Alene, ID
One of the most scenic races in the Northwest, the Coeur D’Alene Triathlon offers a sprint, Olympic, and duathlon. 2023 will mark the race’s 39th anniversary. The Sprint starts on the beach with women- and men-specific waves making it a great choice for novice triathletes. Olympic athletes start their race by boarding a cruise ship and taking a chilly plunge into the bay before swimming back to shore. The bike follows Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive to a challenging, uphill section at Mullan Trail Road, but it also has some fast descents. The run travels along the North Idaho Centennial Trail and the Spokane River to a finish-line party in the city park.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: A Lonestar Holiday
May 29, 2023
The CapTex Tri is a Memorial Day weekend tradition in Texas that’s the perfect opportunity to kick off summer before the temperatures get too hot in the Lone Star State. The race starts with a swim in Lady Bird Lake under the Austin city skyline. The bike goes into the heart of downtown by the Texas Capitol, past iconic landmarks and quirky local spots. The run takes athletes through Butler Park to Vic Mathias Shores to a finish line festival. There are Open (pro and elite), Rookie, Sprint, and Olympic races with Aquabike and relay options. In the past, athletes have received a fantastic goodie bag with a customized shirt, tote bag, sunglasses, water bottle, and personalized race bib.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Spectators
Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon
June 17, 2023
The Excelsior “Commons” Park is the central hub for this sprint-distance race in the heart of Minnesota. The Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon course is unique in that it offers multiple opportunities for spectators to watch their family and friends compete. The .5-mile swim takes place along the shore of Excelsior Bay, and spectators can watch almost the entire swim from the hillside above. Traditionally wetsuit legal, water temperatures range between 70-78 degrees F. Rumor is the bike course is undergoing a few changes in 2023, so stay tuned, but expect rolling hills per usual. The run goes along the shores of the lake edge on city sidewalks under shade trees and a light rail trail that’s very flat and made of hard-packed clay. After the race, stick around for live music at The Commons bandshell after the awards ceremony. To date, this local race has donated over $75,000 to local charities like Interfaith Outreach and Community For the Commons.
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The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Big City Racing
August 26-27, 2023
Touted as being one of the world’s largest triathlons, but also the most accessible with opportunities for first-timers, paratriathletes, and non-binary competitors, the Chicago Triathlon has an international, sprint, super sprint, and kids tri. If you’re up for the “Triple Challenge,” you can do the super sprint on Saturday followed by the international on Sunday as well as the sprint. This special competition sells out every year and is limited to 175 athletes. The race will celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2023, so expect a big bash on the shores of Lake Michigan. There’s a multisport expo, athlete briefings, bike check-in, shuttle service, awards ceremony, and all the trappings that make it seem more like a long-course event. The swim is held in Monroe Harbor, but the highlight is the 100% traffic-free bike course that offers a tour of Chicago, including the scenic lakefront, financial district, and freeway. The run goes along the lakefront through the Museum Campus to Grant Park where a huge finish line festival awaits with a catered meal and ice-cold beer.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Family Fun
Clash Endurance Miami
March 10-12, 2023
Clash Endurance Miami is a unique, multisport festival experience that takes place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. One of the weekend’s highlights is the pro race where the world’s elite compete for a $50,000 prize purse. Billed as a family-friendly endurance event, there are distances for all including a middle-distance triathlon, sprint triathlon and duathlon, kids triathlon, and 5K. Athletes will swim in a spring-fed lake inside the speedway, bike towards Key Largo through a mangrove forest, and run on roads lined with palm trees before finishing on the racetrack. It might be picturesque, but remember this is Florida in March, so prepare for potentially hot and humid conditions. Clash Endurance also offers similar experiences in Atlanta, Daytona, and Watkins Glen.
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The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Local Love
St. Anthony’s Triathlon
April 29-30, 2023
St. Petersburg, FL
St. Anthony’s Triathlon is a Floridian tradition that will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023. The pro race is always a highlight to watch with big names that come to compete, but there are also age group races in sprint and Olympic distances, as well as a “Meek and Mighty Tri” for kids and adults with a pool swim. Although it can be hot this time of year, you can expect a flat and fast course that’s great for a PR. The stunning, sunrise beach start has a bit of a run into shallow water and the potential for a bit of chop. The circuitous bike course passes by a beautiful bay filled with sailboats and the iconic pink Vinoy Hotel. The run takes athletes across a small bridge into neighborhoods that have a bit of shade for relief from the sun. The finish line is always packed with crowds of cheering spectators, the after party has amazing food with live music, and the awards ceremony takes place on a large stage overlooking the bay—while athletes relax in hammocks underneath palm trees. If you’re looking for the quintessential Florida race, this is it.Section divider
The best sprint or Olympic triathlon for: Racing Through History
Rock Hall Olympic/Sprint
June 3-4, 2023
Rock Hall, MD
The Rock Hall Triathlon takes place on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in scenic Kent County, a laid back bay area with a small-town feel that’s full of American history. Athletes will jump off a dock in a time trial start to swim in Rock Hall Harbor on the Chesapeake Bay. The bike is on a flat, rural course, and the run has a similarly flat route through nautical-themed neighborhoods. There is an Olympic race on Saturday and a sprint on Sunday, so athletes can do both for double the fun. This race also serves as the USAT State Championships for Maryland.
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