Tri Something Exotic

Words: Caroline Koll | Photos: Courtesy of Caroline Koll


The number of people taking part in triathlons on a global level is increasing and this has resulted in the number of events increasing too, often in lesser-known triathlon countries.

With local events being quite limited, there has been an increasing awareness that foreign races are no longer just the domain of Pro athletes, but also provide an exciting travel and adventure opportunity for regular triathletes wanting to enjoy their sport and take an interesting vacation at the same time. A perfect example of this is the Indian Ocean Triathlon.


Indian Ocean Triathlon

Race distances: 1.8 km swim, 55 km bike ride and a 12 km run
Country: Mauritius


Just a mere four-hour flight away, this island paradise is relatively close to South Africa and offers great value for the Rand-wielding triathlete. The Indian Ocean Triathlon is one of the most beautiful triathlons in the world, starting on the magnificent, white sandy beach of Emba Filao, and is surrounded by breathtaking views of Le Morne. Now in its fifth year, the race attracts participants from around the world and although challenging in terms of terrain, the reasonable race distances allow you to enjoy the environment both before and after the race.


The swim takes place in the exceptionally warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, and although there may be some current, the area is conveniently sheltered from any waves by the natural coral reef. The bike course incorporates coastal roads, as well as passages through the mountains and villages, which require good bike-handling skills. In addition, the course provides a challenge as hot as some of the Mauritian delicacies, like a pretty severe climb up the Chamarel Pass. It is the glee of local Mauritian cyclists, so don’t be surprised if you are passed by a local wearing flip-flops, it is all a matter of local pride! The run presents a unique course that forces athletes to traverse the white sandy beach. The highlight is the finish line, which is remarkable because of its simplicity in comparison to other big global events; just a few palm leaves and local flowers. But the best reward of all is the most beautiful finish photos you will ever own and the warm reception from the locals!


Post race is when the vacation begins, and I would strongly recommend taking a few days to explore the island. There is considerable opportunity to enjoy water sports of every kind or travel inland to see the natural delights that the island has to offer. Food is largely Indian inspired, and most ingredients are fresh and readily available. Getting around is easy with reasonably priced taxi services that usually come complete with friendly and very knowledgeable taxi drivers. Air Mauritius offers daily flights to Mauritius, and low-season fares are especially favourable in November, just ahead of the peak December holiday period.


So if this sounds like something you want to do, here’s a wish list of some other must-do exotic triathlons that should be posted on the fridge door of every triathlete.


Karukera Triathlon

Race distances: 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run
Country: Guadeloupe, France (French Antilles)


Guadeloupe is a butterfly-shaped island that's part of the French Antilles, and lies in the turquoise blue waters of this exotic Caribbean destination. The 20th edition of this race was held in 2012, and it is organised every year by volunteers from the French Gendarmes, who are stationed on the island. The race is generally hot and humid, but not exempt from the odd tropical shower, and if you can handle the odd bit of traffic that tends to build up on the island’s roads, then you are in for a really laid-back fun time!


Laguna Phuket Triathlon

Race distances: 1.8 km swim, 55 km bike ride and a 12 km run
Country: Phuket, Thailand


Phuket is the perfect end-of-year race, and has been named Asia’s premier destination triathlon. For good reason too, as Thai hospitality is recognised worldwide and the race attracts athletes from all over the globe, including big-name Pros, who come to celebrate the end of the season. The course is challenging, especially the bike leg that heads towards northern Phuket, but the sheer beauty is enough to detract from the pain in your legs.


Weihai Triathlon

Race distances: 3 km swim, 80 km bike ride and a 20 km run
Country: Weihai, China


Triathlon is relatively new in China, but as in all their sporting codes, they are already aiming at perfection. The race is an official ITU Long Distance event and held in the beautiful Chinese seaside town of Weihai, in the Shandong Province. The terrain is rugged, but the race course is exceptional and managed by a considerable army of tireless volunteers. Apart from the really lovely and friendly locals, you will be treated to exceptional ceremonies and displays of Chinese culture.


Israman Triathlon

Race distances: Half Ironman / Full Ironman
Country: Eilat, Israel


Eilat is Israel's most popular resort city located at the northern tip of the Red Sea. The beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism. The race takes place in a dry desert climate, so be prepared for significant variances in temperature. It's not a flat bike course, and you’ll have to conquer the surrounding sandstone and limestone mountains, peaking at 2,927 feet.


Galapagos Challenge

Race distances: 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run
Country: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador


Off the west coast of Ecuador, South America, lies the Galapagos Islands, reputed for its unique vegetation and birdlife. It is also home to the Galapagos Challenge - an Olympic distance triathlon that traverses the island, and has a 21 km / 42 km run the next day. You are not obligated to do both events, but it's definitely an exciting challenge worth trying!


So, have you entered yet?



Visit these sights and enter an exotic triathlon now!
Indian Ocean Triathlon -
Karukera Triathlon -
Laguna Phuket Triathlon -
Weihai Triathlon -
Israman Triathlon -


Galapagos Challenge -


Issue 22 Feb'13