10 Perfect Triathlons for Beginners

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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Whether you’re a runner or cyclist looking to break up the monotony — or you just want to get in great shape — short-course triathlons could be the perfect way to put a spark in your 2017 race schedule. Most short triathlons fall under the sprint category: half-mile swim, 12-ish mile bike and 5K run.

These 10 triathlons span the country and are known for having flat courses and being well-organized — all hallmarks of making for a great beginner race.


Photo Credit: Beth Scupham

March 26, 2017
Jupiter, Florida

The swim takes place in the reasonably calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the bike and run routes taking you along the shoreline. The Turtleman is known for being flat, fast and well-supported. The super sprint distance should also be perfect for beginners, consisting of just a 300-yard swim, 5-mile bike and 5K run.


Photo Credit: Bill Ruhsam

May 6, 2017
Peachtree City, Georgia

A race with a lot of Southern charm, this 300-yard swim, 8-mile bike and 2-mile run provides a safe, fun environment for new competitors. The swim takes place in Peachtree’s newly renovated lake before heading out on a well-marked city ride. The race concludes with a short run along scenic golf course paths, where a post-race party awaits.


May 28, 2017
Pearland, Texas

Just north of Houston, the Silverlake Triathlon takes place at the scenic, tree-lined esplanades of Southwyck Lake. Since the lake is man-made, the water is calm and easy to navigate. The bike and run courses are flat and travel mostly along the shoreline path. If the sprint distance isn’t quite challenging enough, you can also opt for the Olympic distance, which features a 1,500-meter swim and two loops of the 9-mile bike and 3-mile run course around the lake.


Photo Credit: Marie Coleman

June 4, 2017
Naples, Florida

An event that’s tailor-made for beginners, this sprint-distance event can be tackled either solo or as part of a relay team. It’s also a reverse course, meaning you’ll begin with the run, follow it with the bike and finish with the swim — making it ideal for anyone less confident about their swimming abilities who wants to avoid the chaos of the swim start.


Photo Credit: Christian Eager

June 4, 2017
Lawrence, Kansas

Some selling points of this race include free post-race beer, a DJ performing inside the transition area, a professional race announcer and the world’s largest finisher medal. It’s also a great way to learn from the pros if you’re willing to stick around as a spectator for the longer events. Legends Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander and Tim Deboom are just a few of the pros who’ve raced this event.


Photo Credit: Chris Hunkeler

July 30, 2017
Solana Beach, California

Don’t let the beach-start swim in the Pacific Ocean deter you. The Fletcher Cove location is well-supported, with plenty of lifeguards and swim buddies. The bike and run both cruise down the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, where there’s lots of support to push you to the finish. Solana Beach is also one of the most beautiful locations in all of southern California, which always helps take your mind off the suffering. This sprint triathlon features a .25-mile swim, a 9-mile bike and a 3-mile run.


Photo Credit: Marc Buehler

August 27, 2017

While the Olympic-distance event on Sunday promises to be ultra-competitive, beginners can opt for either the super sprint (0.23-mile swim, 6.2-mile bike, 1.5-mile run) or the more traditional sprint distance (half-mile swim, 15-mile bike, 5K run) on Saturday. The swim takes place on Foster Beach in Lake Michigan then the bike route follows Lakefront Trail, where all roads will be closed to traffic. The run course is on a gravel path and will be stocked with plenty of aid stations.   


Photo Credit: Joe Flood

September 10, 2017
Washington, D.C.

This sprint-distance event takes place in the heart of the nation’s capital, beginning with a swim in the Potomac River before following bike and run courses that wind through most of D.C.’s historic monuments. While the reasonably short event should be doable on your own, you can also opt to conquer the course as a three-person relay team or skip the run with the Aquabike option.


Photo Credit: smilla4

September 16, 2017
Freeport, Maine

If you’re the kind of competitor who needs a little motivation, the Lobsterman rewards with one of the best post-race parties around. It’s an Olympic-distance tri, and the one-mile ocean swim is in Casco Bay, where waters are clear and calm. A 40K bike and 10K run head mostly through pastures and farm stands on closed roads and frequent aid stations, making this a top choice if you’re looking to try your luck at a slightly longer distance. At the finish, a classic Maine lobster bake is a can’t-miss.


Photo Credit: Mike Boening Photography

September 17, 2017
Malibu, California

Slightly longer than a sprint distance, this half-mile swim, 18-mile bike, and four-mile run is still beginner-friendly. While the ocean swim will probably present your biggest challenge, the bike and run courses along one of the most beautiful shorelines in the country is the main attraction and worth any slight bump in difficulty. The race is also well-supported should you encounter any difficulties along the way.


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About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


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