Start training: 17 QLD triathlon, marathon & other endurance events
Are your legs stronger than steel? Can you swim faster than a great white shark with an appetite? Do you own a bike? Then join in some of the most sole-crushing, tyre-popping, bog-snorkelling events you can find anywhere in the world.
From IRONMAN Australia events to marathons and downhill mountain biking challenges, these are some of Queensland’s best endurance events. Get your training plan in order now!
E&E Waste Hell of the West Triathlon
When: 4 February 2018
The Challenge: Getting through hell and back. Literally.
The E&E Waste Hell of the West Triathlon ain’t for the faint-hearted, with temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius accompanying you through the 2km swim in the murky waters of the Macintyre River, 80km cycle along the Baryon Highway, and 20km run consisting of three loops heading towards the western edge of town.
What you need: A heart of metal, a litre of SPF 50+, and a sweet set of (two) wheels.
How to reward yourself: With a well-deserved country escape, but where to? We’ve got 52 getaway ideas to help you decide.
Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival
When: 11 March 2018
Where: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: The Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival is an ITU Triathlon World Cup event and that means it brings in the world’s best triathletes. Try to keep up with them as you swim, bike and run your way around this beautiful course.
The event has been going for 25 years and the atmosphere is louder than an ABBA concert, so even if you’re just there to spectate, it’s worth it.
What you need: Enough energy to go shopping after the race, really comfy budgie smugglers for the swim and of course, a bike.
How to reward yourself: If you just finished the race then you’ve seen the coastline of Mooloolaba and as beautiful as it is, the hinterland awaits. Check out these top 5 waterfalls or cheers your efforts with a craft beer crawl around these Sunshine Coast breweries.
Julia Creek Dirt n Dust
The Challenge: This is where it gets serious. Forget what you think an endurance event is… Julia Creek Dirt n Dust is going to destroy those ideas and welcome participants to one of the hardest races in the country.
Temperatures can reach the 40s and if you’ve ever tried doing anything in heat like that, you really understand how tough and brave the triathlon participants are. These guys would make John McClane look like a member of One Direction.
Just when you think this place can’t get any crazier, head over to the Bog Snorkeling for your chance to witness something truly filthy. Seriously, check this video out of previous Dirt & Dust events. There is even a Best Butt event.
What you need: Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen and a sombrero, the ability to light a match on your cheek or put a cigar out on your tongue (either will do, just so long as you’re tough) and a bike.
How to reward yourself: Mr. T will come and do your laundry for a week after he finds out how tough you are. Once you finish this race it’s a great opportunity to explore what Outback Queensland is all about. Then it’s time for a road trip.
Cooly Classic Ocean Swim
When: 13 May 2018
Where: Coolangatta, Gold Coast
While the Cooly Classic 2.0 is without a doubt the main event of this World Series Ocean Swim, all ages and abilities have the chance to show ’em what they’ve got, with a Junior Dash for eager tadpoles and the shorter Cooly 1000 for less experienced ocean swimmers.
On the other end of the scale, those who feel that 2km just isn’t enough water action can now push their limits in the new 3km marathon distance course, which follows the same point to point format as the Classic 2.0, but with an extra leg added beyond Kirra Point.
What you need: Waterproof sunscreen and fluro. Lots of fluro.
How to reward yourself: Beers and bowling is a pretty good way to celebrate either way it goes, so swap your fins for a pair of retro shoes at Timezone Coolangatta. Prefer to kick back and relax? Head 20 minutes north to beach it in Burleigh for the rest of the weekend.
Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival
When: May 2018
Where: Noosa, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: This event is a little different. Instead of doing a triathlon or a huge swim it lets you pick and choose the challenge. Swim lengths vary from 500m to 3.8km, cycle lengths are 100km or 160km, and running events go from half marathon (21km) down to a leisurely walk with the family.
Bringing everyone together to get into the spirit of sport is what these events are all about and the Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival is doing an awesome job.
What you need: A longboard (for after the race, of course), a ‘hang loose’ attitude, a plane ticket already booked so you can come back for the Noosa Food and Wine Festival (check out this video) and maybe… a bike.
How to reward yourself: A long stroll through Noosa National Park, then afternoon drinks and dinner at Peter Kuruvita’s Noosa Beach House – a well-deserved evening for a champion like yourself.
Cairns Airport Adventure Festival
When: 6-11 June 2018
Where: Cairns, Tropical North Queensland
The Challenge: There is a difference between IRONMAN 70.3 and true IRONMAN. Both are difficult, both are exciting and bring the best talent in the world… but the true IRONMAN is a whole new beast.
Think: 3.8km swim, 180km bike and then a full 42.2km marathon. All in one day. All in under 10 hours for some Captain America-looking people. Not to mention the whole race is stunning.
If you don’t feel like pushing six months worth of exercise into 10 hours, the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival has loads of other events, like the Quicksilver Reef Swim. This 1.5km or 3km swim off Green Island provides a view of the Great Barrier Reef… that sounds more like it.
What you need: Years and years of practice, ZERO body hair, webbed toes and hands and of course… a bike.
How to reward yourself: Not only will you be able to tell everyone you meet about how you conquered IRONMAN in Cairns that one time, you will also have the super-human ability to swim to most of these island resorts. Well maybe not, but pretty darn close.
Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival
When: This event is taking a break in 2018 and will return in 2019.
Where: North Stradbroke Island
The Challenge: To conquer surf, sand, trail, bitumen, boardwalk, stairs and stunning coastal scenery.
The Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival is serving up a kaleidoscope of tri-adventures over this jam-packed weekend, from the Straddie Stride Fun Run and Garmin StraddieKidz, to the pride and joy of the festival… the Straddie Salute.
The original offroad event takes willing participants through a 750m ocean swim from Home Beach to Point Lookout, followed by an 18km cycle across both sealed roads and 4WD trails, and 8.5km run featuring a mix of coastal trails.
FYI: This time of the year also marks the start of whale season, meaning you might see more than well-toned athletes in the water.
What you need: Bikinis, boardies, a straw hat… oh, and probably some lycra.
How to reward yourself: By making like a local and livin’ it up island style.
Gold Coast Marathon
When: 30 June – 1 July 2018
Where: Gold Coast
The Challenge: The Gold Coast Marathon brings in more than 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities to compete. The marathon is the premier event but you can’t go past the wheelchair marathon for sheer excitement and inspiration.
These men and women are true champions as they travel 42.195km with their arms faster than most of us could do on a motorcycle. The other events include 2km and 4km Junior Dashes, a 5.7km challenge, a 10km run, and a 15km wheelchair race.
Age is no limit here either – 41-year-old Kenneth Mungara, former barber from Kenya, took the overall win in 2015. Past his prime? I think not.
What you need: The ability to pace yourself and not go too hard when the gun fires, the ability to grab cups of water on the run, the ability to pretty much sprint at 42.195km if you want to win!
How to reward yourself: Thrills. That’s right. Head up to Dreamworld, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild to rest the legs and enjoy an exciting ride of a different kind. If cuddling cute koalas is more your thing, grab your selfie stick and follow these tips to make the most out of a day at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Townsville Triathlon Festival
When: 17-19 August 2018
The Challenge: To go hard or go home with nine endurance events over three huge days, kicking off the whole she-bang at the Carbs with the Stars Dinner (gotta love the way these guys think).
While the Triathlon Queensland Club Championships is what all the serious triathletes have their eyes on, there’s something for everyone to get active in at this festival, from the 1300 Smiles Kids Try to the newly added 1km Ocean Swim.
But the best part? You can race in as many events that tickle your fancy, thanks to their unlimited racing packages which even include recover and rest perks.
What you need: Your best pair of runners, a bike, and an appetite for food and success.
How to reward yourself: Since you’ve seen the best sides of the mainland, time to cross the waters and explore the best of Magnetic Island.
IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast
When: 26 August 2018
Where: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast returns this year as a qualifying event having hosted the World Championship in 2016.
IRONMAN is synonymous with ‘insane person sport’ and the Mooloolaba version may trick you into thinking it’s pretty and nice but don’t be fooled. First up, the 1.9km swim from ‘Loo with a view’ (code for really pretty toilets) then onto a 90km bike from Mooloolaba and bike up to the Mount Coolum turnoff and back… twice. Then comes the fun bit, a 21.1km run along Mooloolaba Esplanade and OVER Alexandra Headland… again, twice.
What you will need: The will of a lion, the abilities of a dolphin and of course… a bike. Plus these tips on where to train like a pro.
How to reward yourself: Try a dinner fit for a king with some of the best degustations on the Sunshine Coast.
Jewel ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast – Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial
When: 12-16 September 2018
Where: Gold Coast
The Challenge: Game is ON people, with elite triathletes from all over the world – including several Olympic contenders – battling it out during the second round of the ITU World Triathlon Series.
But that doesn’t mean us mere mortals who have a penchant for tri-fuelled adrenaline have to miss out on all the fun.
All ages can get their chance to race on the same course as 2018 Commonwealth Games athletes in the Superkids, Enticer, and big-mama Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon, which sees serious contenders get in on the action via a cool 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run.
What you need: Poms poms and a megaphone to cheer on the champs during Saturday’s elite tri before #killingit in your race the next day.
How to reward yourself: Keep the Commonwealth Games spirit going with these top 8 things to do on the Gold Coast courtesy of the cutest mascot ever.
The Challenge: The Crocodile Trophy is the biggest mountain bike stage race in the world for individual participants. That means more than 650km of trails, 13,000m of elevation, dust, mud, rivers, crocs, koalas, jungle and the odd chain snapping and popped tyre.
More than 100 professional and amateur riders from more than 20 countries come to this race because it’s regarded as the world’s toughest.
All the traits of a crocodile are needed: Stone-cold confidence, hard skin and a single purpose to destroy everything the course throws at you. Have fun.
What you need: Crocodile-like instincts, the legs of a Greek demigod and a bike.
How to reward yourself: $40,000 in prizes and the confidence and swagger that comes with finishing one of the hardest mountain bike races on earth sounds pretty good to start. Then, take a rest day (or five) at an island resort and enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.
Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold
When: October 2018
Where: Coolangatta, Gold Coast
The Challenge: Pretty much to become a master of the seas.
One of the most challenging endurance races in surf sports, the Coats Hire Coolangatta Gold is tempting water fiends across the country to fine tune their multi-disciplinary techniques so they can swim, run, paddle board and surf ski to salty glory in either the 32.4km Short Course (short my Aunt Fanny) or 41.5km Long Course.
What you need: Your best and brightest budgie smugglers and a spiritual mindset to be at one with the ocean.
How to reward yourself: Swap the adrenalin for lazy beach vibes and secret beaches with this 48-hour itinerary.
Tropical Journeys Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival
When: October 2018
Where: Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland
The Challenge: The Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival is a buffet of running events for everyone from children to seniors. There are 2.5km, 5km, 10km, 21.1km, 42.195km and even a 74km insanity run through Mowbray and Kuranda national parks.
These parks are so good looking it will be like having a someone pushing you through the course. Easiest 74km you will ever run… oh wait, the parks are full of undulating hills and rivers? Woo!
That’s why you came here though, to test your mettle. This will do that and then some.
What you need: An extremely hydrated body, crocodile repellent, and a support team who won’t leave you mid-race to go diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
How to reward yourself: Post race it’s time to sooth those aching legs, and nothing does that better than a saltwater bath, so jump into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Chances are you’re probably also in need of a cocktail and a sun lounger (#amIright) – this 48-hour Port Douglas itinerary should do the trick.
Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival
When: November 2018
Where: Noosa, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: Ummmm… the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival is just the biggest, oldest triathlon in Australia and is the largest Olympic-length triathlon in the world. No biggie. On top of that, it happens to be the largest multi-sports festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
Join in the SUBARU Australian Open Criterium men’s race, Charity Golf Day and even a triathlon for the kids. Don’t worry though. You’ve got this.
Check out our handy guide to prep for it and remember, it’s Noosa after all. Even if you don’t set the fastest time you’ll still get to explore one of the best-looking regions in Queensland.
What you need: Five days of holiday leave, the ability to run past beautiful beaches, resorts and restaurants without wanting to stop (you’re in a race for goodness sake!), and of course… a bike.
How to reward yourself: With 20,000 cheering fans and 48 hours of bliss and relaxation.
Fujifilm Hamilton Island Triathlon
When: 18 November 2018
Where: Hamilton Island
The Challenge: To pound the pavement and swim the turquoise waters of one of the most beautiful islands in the Whitsundays… tough gig, right?
The Fujifilm Hamilton Island Triathlon – which includes a junior division and non-competitive course on the neighbouring Dent Island – is just one of four events in the Hamilton Island Endurance Series, which sees a few other adventure stunners like the Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim and Beach Run, and the scenic Hamilton Hilly Marathon going down throughout the year.
But the best part about the tri is that you get to encompass all the earth porn in one go, with a 750m swim in Catseye Bay, 20km cycle around the southern part of the island, and finishing with a 5km run around the marina and resort sides. #blessed
What you need: A partiality towards island life, Instagram, and a bike.
How to reward yourself: With cocktails, sunset sails and golf buggies. Yep, this 48-hour Hamilton Island itinerary has you sorted.
Hog’s Breath Hervey Bay 100
When: November 2018
Where: Hervey Bay
The Challenge: 100km of absolute oceanfront racing on one of Australia’s most picturesque courses, because “If you’re going to go the distance, why not suffer in paradise!” (Tagline goals = Hervey Bay 100.)
Despite the grit required for this long course triathlon (we’re talking a 2km swim, 80km bike, and 18km run), don’t be surprised if the scenic views of the beautiful foreshore of Hervey Bay out to Fraser Island hit you in the feels and melt your heart along the way.
What you need: A whole lotta Milo. And perhaps a bike too.
How to reward yourself: Being the seafood capital of the state, it’s only right that you celebrate to your efforts with the best eats in town.