Swim, Ride, Run

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A swimmer leaves the James River and heads for the bike leg of last year’s Rocketts Landing Triathlon in Richmond. Photo: Richmond Multisports

Ready to complete the racing trifecta? This summer the South is loaded with triathlons of all distances—from fast sprints to the long slog of the mighty Ironman.

Rocketts Landing Triathlon Richmond, Va. • July 24 Racers traverse the best of Richmond with a 1,500-meter swim in the James River, followed by a rolling 40K bike ride on the rural roads of Henrico Country, and finishing with a 10K through downtown.

Charlottesville Off-Road Sprint Triathlon Charlottesville, Va. • July 24 If your racing preferences eschew concrete, try this off-road triathlon at the idyllic Walnut Creek Park, located in Charlottesville’s forested outskirts. After a 750-meter open-water swim in the cool waters of the park’s lake, the course’s 15.5-mile bike ride and 5K trail run will weave through dense woods on well-maintained singletrack with relatively mellow grades.

XTERRA Panther Creek Morristown, Tenn • July 31 XTERRA hosts a series of rugged off-road triathlons around the country with 65 races in 35 states. Avid racers earn points as they compete for an invite to the XTERRA USA Championships in Utah. One of the South’s toughest trail triathlons takes place in the Smoky Mountain terrain of East Tennessee’s Panther Creek State Park. After an 800-meter swim in Cherokee Lake, racers complete a 15-mile mountain bike ride and a 4.5-mile trail run.

Paris Mountain Triathlon Greenville, S.C. • August 6 This rugged race at Paris Mountain State Park in the South Carolina Upstate was rescheduled from early spring, so sweltering summer temps could be an additional challenge. Besides the heat, racers will contend with the brutal climb of Paris Mountain (over 1,000 feet in a little over two miles), both during the five-mile run and the 20-mile bike ride on the surrounding hilly roads. This is the same climb elite cyclists tackle every year at the U.S. Professional Cycling Championships. The most refreshing part of this race comes early in the 500-meter swim in Lake Placid’s cool and clear spring-fed waters.

Ironman Louisville Louisville, Ky. • August 28 Completing the full monty is no small feat: swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and running a marathon (26.2 miles). The only full Ironman in the South takes place around Louisville’s scenic waterfront with a point-to-point swim in the Ohio River and running and biking past popular landmarks like Churchill Downs and Louisville Slugger Field.

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