7 reasons why IRONMAN Cairns is the most beautiful triathlon on the planet
It’s one of the world’s toughest triathlons in one of its most beautiful destinations.
Held every June during the annual Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns consists of a gruelling 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42.2km run – all without a break – in the hope of nabbing a qualifying slot to the IRONMAN World Championship.
And if the race doesn’t take your breath away, the backdrop surely will.
Here are 7 reasons why IRONMAN Cairns is the most beautiful triathlon on the planet.
1. It kicks off on one of the most the beautiful beaches in Queensland
Ain’t nothing like a sunrise over the ocean to start the
day race right.
Kicking off from the palm tree-lined shores of Palm Cove, the first leg sees triathletes dive head first into the balmy waters of one of the most beautiful beaches in Queensland for a 3.8km swim (with a backdrop of rainforest-clad mountains, mind you) before continuing on to your path to paradise.
2. You’ll pedal along one of the most stunning stretches of road in Australia
Stalking the Coral Sea from Cairns to Port Douglas, the 180km bike course will have you cycling past secluded beaches and coastal headlands along the heartbreakingly scenic Great Tropical Drive, a journey that even two-time IRONMAN world champion Chris “Macca” McCormack calls the most spectacular bike course in the world.
Hugging the coastline along the Captain Cook Highway, the road is a must-see attraction in itself here in Tropical North Queensland, with panoramic views over the reef and rainforest, which brings me to my next point…
3. You’re racing in the only spot in the world where two World Heritage-listed wonders collide
BOOM. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
4. Cardio never looked so good (or inviting)
Over 42km of running is – to me – the very definition of hell, but when you’re hitting the pavement along palm-fringed beachfront boardwalks and scenic esplanades, it can make even the keenest of strollers want to pick up the tempo.
The first of three laps starts in the vibrant hub of the Cairns Esplanade and Marina, where you’ll run past the lagoon – a magnet for many a sunbather – and along the esplanade with views out to Mount Yarrabah across the water.
While the laid-back sunny atmosphere is enough to tempt you for a cold one mid-race, you’ll have to settle for some H20 at one of the aid stations before passing the finish line and treating yo’self.
5. You’ll be cheered on by the friendliest spectators in the world
The local atmosphere in Cairns is unparalleled even on a regular day (seriously, they’re the most chilled-out, easy-going city slickers you’ll ever come across, and it’s not hard to see why given their tropical locale).
Since the race finishes in the heart of the city, you can bet there’ll be a community cheer squad filling the streets to celebrate your IRONMAN journey.
6. It’s inclusive of all ages and abilities
Aside from the aesthetic lure, Cairns is the only IRONMAN in Australia that has both the full distance and half (IRONMAN 70.3) triathlons on the same day, and on the same course! Which means no one has to miss out on the IRONMAN experience. #bigkudos
You’ll also find a whole calendar of sporting events on offer for all ages and abilities during the 8-day adventure festival.
The Quicksilver Reef Swim gives competitors a chance to swim in the sparkling waters off Green Island, while the Rainforest & Reef Mountain Bike Challenge sees riders race through the diverse terrain of Tropical North Queensland.
Little ones can also join in on the tri fun with the McDonalds IRONKIDS Cairns Triathlon, but the highlight will hands-down be the Cairns Post Bright Night Run, where groups are invited to party your way to the finish line in a blaze of neon and glowing lights to raise funds for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation.
7. You can recover in paradise
Even if you don’t win first place, you’ll still feel like celebrating thanks to the tropical paradise ready to reward your efforts:
- If it’s your first time visiting, check out this post ticking off the must-dos in Cairns for first-timers.
- Since you’re here, it would be a crime not to make the most of the two World Heritage wonders at your doorstep. Here are 10 ways to explore the Great Barrier and Wet Tropics Rainforest from Cairns.
- Keep the natural trail going with this 4-day nature fix from Cairns to Mission Beach.
- Prefer to rest your weary feet and take it easy? This 48-hour Port Douglas itinerary is sure to hit the right spot. Otherwise, find your perfect patch of sand with this local’s guide to the best beaches.
- If luxury is more your recovery style, familiarise yourself with these swanky spots to eat, retreat, relax and repeat.
So, what are you waiting for?
Register now or start training pronto for next year’s event (we’ve also got a handy packing guide to help you get organised).
Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect: