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What makes a good triathlon town? It’s a little bit the training, a little bit the community, and a whole lot of je ne sais quoi.
We started our search for the best tri towns by asking you—and you delivered. We received nearly 200 nominations, with a couple of tri clubs running coordinated campaigns. And then we narrowed it down based on a few criteria: the local triathlon community, training and facilities, climate, events and access to races, and the other fun things—bike shops, coffee, good restaurants.
Then we had our panel of expert judges (meet them below) make their picks. The battle was fierce and worthy towns were eliminated, until we finalized our list here of the top five tri towns and five honorable mentions. Over the next few days we’ll be revealing the winners. We’ve already announced Madison, Clermont, San Diego, and Austin. Today we’re highlighting the underdog of the group: Charlotte, North Carolina.
Triathlon Town: Charlotte, North Carolina
As one of the fastest growing major cities in the U.S., it’s no surprise that Charlotte’s tri scene has followed suit—both in terms of community and facilities. The city and area boast several world-class aquatic centers and plenty of lakes for open-water workouts. There’s also an extensive YMCA system with most pools accommodating lap swimmers and even offering triathlon training groups.
“The combination of cool locations that support and encourage group training events and energetic fun people makes it an excellent place for a triathlete of any level,” said local triathlete Michelle Grady. Grady also applauded the city’s “robust and diverse” tri community, which she’s enjoyed watching grow and thrive in the last 20 years.
When it comes to racing, triathletes are spoiled for choices: Charlotte is home to a handful of local sprint and super sprint races, as well as a number of running and cycling events. In a normal year, there’s a race almost every weekend from March onward. And the central location makes it easy to get to races in Georgia, South Carolina, and even Florida. With its humid subtropical climate, the summer months can get hot and muggy, but mild winters make up for any sweating you do in August—and the heat and humidity provides a chance to train in real world conditions that you’ll likely face on race day.
Charlotte has plenty of jobs, shops, resources, and microbreweries in the area—plus cool little towns like Greensboro are nearby (another Tri Town nominee). Many of the triathlete-friendly bike shops even host weekly training rides—and to add to the perks some of the microbreweries springing up around town offer discounts to athletes on post-workout beers. Cheers, Charlotte!
Why Charlotte Is One Of The Top Triathlon Towns
A friendly and diverse tri scene for elites and newbies, great facilities, and no end of race options.
Median Household Income
71 degrees F from April to October; 47 degrees F from November to March
Local Tri Clubs
YDub Tri Club, Charlotte Track & Tri Club
Notable Local Races
Ironman 70.3 North Carolina (October), High Point Sprint Tri (August)