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9 of the Most Popular Races in Triathlon

To compete in these sell-out events, you’ll have to race to the registration button.

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To compete in these sell-out events, you’ll have to race to the registration button.

Some races begin well before athletes even toe the starting line. Though triathlon has a wealth of racing opportunities around the world, some events are more popular than others, filling up their available spots every year. Some events sell out mere minutes after registration opens, prompting athletes to stretch out their fingers, take their marks, and click as rapidly as they can to secure their spot. If you want to race these sell-out events, first you’ll have to race to register.

Outlaw Half Nottingham

Nottingham, England

In just 8 minutes, all 1,500 age-group entries for this annual event in the UK were claimed, and for good reason: this half-iron race is flat, fast, and spectator-friendly, with on-site camping, plenty of family activities, and a multi-loop course that allows for lots of cheers.

Athletes compete on the streets of San Francisco. Photo: Rocky Arroyo

Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon

San Francisco, CA

This bucket-list race is full of bragging rights, from the swim that launches from a ferry (into waters that may have sharks), a grueling bike course through Golden Gate Park, and a beach run that features the iconic “sand ladder.” To get into this race doesn’t require speed, but luck: Because of its popularity, the 2,000 age-group spots for the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon are distributed via a lottery system. In an all-new qualifying option, the Escape Triathlon Series features several races across the world that each offer a total of 34 slots for the big Alcatraz race.

Alaskaman Xtreme Triathlon

Seward, AK

With a total gain of 11,100′ between the bike and run courses and an average water temp of 53°F, Alaskaman is one of the most challenging extreme triathlons on Earth. Still, more than 500 athletes applied for one of only 300 lottery spots available for the 2018 running of this super-tough, super-scenic race. 

New York City Triathlon

New York, NY

The city that never sleeps is also the city that rarely shuts down its streets, making this annual event in the Big Apple a unique experience in high demand. In addition to a swim in the Hudson River, the bike course winds through a traffic-free Hudson Parkway before yielding to an urban run course that finishes in the heart of Central Park.

Challenge Roth

Roth, Germany

Sixty seconds—that’s how much time you’ve got to snag a spot at the iconic Challenge Roth, now in its 35th year. For most iron-distance triathletes, Challenge Roth is held in the same regard as the Ironman World Championship, where the best of the best gather for an unforgettable day of racing on an unforgettable course lined with almost 300,000 spectators.

Ironman Lake Placid

Lake Placid, NY

For 20 years, triathletes have flocked to the Adirondack Mountains to take part in Ironman Lake Placid. Despite a challenging course, the race has a reputation for being one of the best, as evidenced by its bevy of Athlete’s Choice Awards: “Best Race Venue Experience,” “Best Host City Experience,” and “Will Recommend to a Friend.” Though general entry registrations fill quickly, there are often charity fundraising spots available for those who want to get in on the action.

Title 9 Triathlon

Hopkinton, MA

This women-only event caps its field at only 650 athletes to create an athlete-focused event that is particularly welcoming to beginner triathletes. In addition to creating a fun, supportive environment, Title 9 volunteers (called “Buddies” on the race course) are trained on providing detailed instructions and helpful advice every step of the way.

Noosa Triathlon Festival

Queensland, Australia

Every event within this five-day triathlon festival, from the SwimRun to the 5K, fills quickly. But perhaps none more so than the individual and team triathlon races. The largest Olympic-distance triathlon in the world filled within nine hours for the 2018 event. In addition to a stunning course on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, the Olympic-distance race is known for a fourth discipline that comes after the swim, bike, and run: party.

Age-groupers race at Ironman Arizona. Photo: Paul Phillips/ Nick Morales/ Competitive Image/@Compimagephoto

Ironman Arizona

Tempe, AZ

This late-season Ironman is so popular, people travel to Tempe just to volunteer at the race, which secures early registration for the following year. It’s a flat and fast course, popular with beginners and those looking to nab an Ironman PR.

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