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. First we announced the cover star of our September/October issue: Madison, Wisconsin. Today we’re highlighting one of the top vote getters: Clermont, Florida.
Triathlon Town: Clermont, Florida
Widely considered a mecca for triathletes, Clermont’s year-round sunshine and many training routes make it a popular endurance playground. While it does get hot in the summer, you can run early and then hit the pool. Plus, right in central Florida—just outside Orlando and not far from Ironman’s headquarters in Tampa—there’s a surprising variety of terrain.
Locals proudly boast it’s the only place in Florida where you can actually ride a bike uphill—no, Miami, your causeways don’t count—and the many nearby lakes and trails add countless opportunities to train and explore. The town is also home to the National Training Center, a state-of-the-art sports facility with an aquatics center that’ll make any triathlete drool, as well as a track and field complex and a 37,000 square-foot fitness center.
Along with ITU and draft-legal races for the elites, Clermont hosts the historic Great Floridian Triathlon, the Sommer Series, the Lake Louisa Tri, and the Space Coast Tri—plus you can always check out the local splash n’ dash events put on by former pro Sara McLarty’s SLAP Tri Team. With so many triathletes living here (and elites coming here to train), it’s no surprise there are plenty of run and bike shops too, with Clermont Bikes and Epic Cycles among the most popular. Bonus: Epic Cycles is also right on the bike path and has a coffee bar. Other recommendations from the locals: Energy Cafe for healthy recovery drinks—and the Crooked Spoon, Root and Branch, and Suncreek Brewery for (not necessarily healthy) drinks and treats.
Why Clermont Is One Of The Top Triathlon Towns
The year-round sunshine and high-quality training. Don’t you want to tri like the pros?
Median Household Income
64 degrees F from November to March; 80 degrees F from April to October
Local Tri Clubs
Clermont Tri Club, SLAP Tri Team
Notable Local Races
Great Floridian Tri (October), Sommer Series (throughout the summer), Space Coast Tri (May), ITU Clermont Draft Legal Challenge (March)