Start training: 19 QLD triathlon, marathon and other endurance events
Can you swim without floaties? Do you own a bike that isn’t covered in cobwebs? Were your running shoes made this century? If you answered yes to at least one of those questions, 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 multi-day cycling challenges, these are some of Queensland’s best endurance events. Start cooking a batch of carbs and get your training plan in order now!
1. E&E Waste Hell of the West Triathlon and GTH+ Super Saturday
When: 9-10 February 2019
The Challenge: Getting through hell and back. Literally.
The E&E Waste Hell of the West Triathlon isn’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.
Preceding the ‘toughest triathlon in Queensland’ is the fun-filled GTH+ Super Saturday, which involves a kids triathlon, enticer triathlon and five and 10-kilometre fun runs.
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 50 getaway ideas to help you decide.
2. Auswide Bank Cycle Fest International
When: 10-18 February 2019
The Challenge: For the first time in Queensland cycling’s history, an international world-class event will come to Regional QLD in the form of the Auswide Bank Cycle Fest International.
The Super Street Criterium is like F1 on bikes, with riders racing around a street circuit at up to 70 kilometres per hour. On the Kevin Brogden Velodrome, over 100 plus events make up the program with the stars of world cycling set to take part.
If you’ve still got any energy left at the end of the week-long festival, there’s also an Olympic distance triathlon.
What you need: Unless you’re keen on taking part in the triathlon, all the cycling events are elite-only, so chuck your feet up and relax.
How to reward yourself: February is turtle time in Bundaberg! Find out where you can see these amazing creatures after the racing finishes.
3. Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival
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.
If triathlon isn’t your thing, there’s also a fun run and ocean swim to get the blood pumping.
The festival has been going for over 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.
4. Brisbane Cycling Festival
When: 28 March – 14 April 2019
The Challenge: Cycling, cycling and more cycling!
Over two weeks in March and April, the Brisbane Cycling Festival offers a host of events suitable for all riders and fans.
For the general public, the Tour de Brisbane is the ultimate event for competitive or not so competitive riders looking to tackle a 110km course around the best parts of Brisbane.
For those keen on doing more watching than pedalling, the Anna Meares Velodrome features the Track National Championships and Six Day Brisbane Final.
What you need: At least one training session going up Mt Coot-tha to prepare yourself for the biggest hill on the Tour de Brisbane course, or a bucket of hot chips if you’re more interested in watching the track cycling action.
How to reward yourself: With a night out on the town of course! Admire views of Brisbane from one of the rooftop bars dotted around the city.
5. 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.
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.
6. Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival
When: 17-19 May 2019
Where: North Stradbroke Island
The Challenge: To conquer surf, sand, trail, bitumen, boardwalk, stairs and stunning coastal scenery.
The Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival serves up a jam-packed weekend, from the Straddie Stride Fun Run and StraddieKidz, to the pride and joy of the festival… the Straddie Salute.
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.
7. Runaway Noosa Marathon
The Challenge: As one of Australia’s newest marathons, the 2019 Runaway Noosa Marathon is a flat and fast course that meanders alongside the picturesque Noosa River.
If you’re not ready for a full marathon just yet, there’s also the option of a 31.6km, half marathon, 10km, 5km and even ocean swims.
What you need: Enough energy left to boogie your way through the seven live music stations you will encounter on each of the four laps of the marathon course.
How to reward yourself: After slogging through 42.2km treat yourself to Noosa’s best food and wine options.
8. McDonald’s Brisbane Marathon Festival
When: 1-2 June 2019
The Challenge: Move aside Lime scooters, for 28 years the McDonald’s Brisbane Marathon has been the ultimate way to see the city.
The course journeys along and across the Brisbane River multiple times, with the start and finish at the iconic Riverstage.
For those still building up to the full 42.2km journey, the option is there to take part in the half marathon, 10km, 5km or 2km instead.
What you need: A committed friend or a running group to get the training done between now and June.
9. Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championships and IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns
When: 5-10 June 2019
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, including a 70.3 option, Quicksilver Reef Swim – Green Island, The Cairns Post Bright Night Run and McDonalds IRONKIDS Cairns.
What you need: Years and years of practice, ZERO body hair, webbed toes and fingers 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.
10. Gold Coast Marathon
When: 6-7 July 2019
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.
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 the 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.
11. Velothon Sunshine Coast
When: 19-21 July 2019
Where: Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: Peel off your arm warmers and gloves and escape to the Sunshine Coast for one or three days of stunning riding along the coast and up into the hinterland.
The Velothon Sunshine Coast is set-up like a mini Tour de France with king of the mountain and sprint sections to challenge yourself along the course. At the end of each day’s riding kick back with a beverage and throw some banter at the event clubhouse set up at Cotton Tree.
What you need: Enough chain lubricant and psi in your tyres to ensure a smooth passage up the infamous Obi Obi climb.
How to reward yourself: Fact: 99.9% of cyclists love coffee. Sussing out the best-hidden coffee joints on the Sunshine Coast is then a very important task.
12. 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon
When: 2-4 August 2019
Where: Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: There’s no way to make a 42km jaunt any easier, but views of the epic coastline from Alexandra Headlands might just make said run a little bit more memorable.
The 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon is a beloved staple of the Australian running scene and possesses a fast and flat course in normally ideal weather conditions.
The festival includes the full suite of supporting runs, including a half marathon, 10k, 5km and 2km.
What you need: A pair of sunnies, because not only is your future bright if you complete the full marathon, but the UV rays reflecting off the water can be dazzling.
How to reward yourself: Keep the endorphins flowing with eight Sunshine Coast adventures that range from thrill to chill.
13. McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival
When: 4 August 2019
The Challenge: Getting up to watch the sunrise can be a real pain sometimes.
When you’ve sunk months (or weeks) of training into an event though, getting up early is a fait accompli.
The McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival’s pinnacle event is a beautiful marathon along the waterfront with the start time nice and early so you can knock back those early kilometres while watching the sunrise over the Coral Sea and Magnetic Island. Doesn’t that sound enticing?
What you need: A smile because this might just be Australia’s friendliest running festival.
How to reward yourself: Keep the good vibes going by indulging in Townsville’s best healthy eating options.
14. Reef to Reef
When: 8-11 August 2019
Where: Tropical North Queensland
The Challenge: As one of Australia’s newest mountain biking stage races, Reef to Reef is less of an endurance slog and more of an exhilarating adventure on two wheels.
Starting in Cairns and finishing four days later in Port Douglas, the terrain is challenging without being too technical for the average rider. TThere are heaps of flowing singletrack through tropical rainforests that will have you drooling over your handlebars in delight.
What you need: The ability to extend the thumb and pinky on your hand while keeping your middle fingers curled. You’ll be doing lots of shakas during this race.
How to reward yourself: Retrace the footsteps of the ‘Honey Badger’ Nick Cummins by following his guide to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation.
15. Noosa Classic
The Challenge: The Noosa Classic is back in 2019 after a successful first outing in 2018.
Depending on how much, or little, winter training you’ve done, choose from the 160km Maxi Classic, 120km Challenge Classic or the 45km Social Classic.
Being Noosa, the scenery is stunning as the route explores the undulating hinterland region.
What you need: With over 2,500m of climbing on the Maxi Classic, you’ll be needing more than a few energy gels to survive until the finish.
How to reward yourself: Migrate a couple of hours north of Noosa to watch whales doing their thing off the coast of Hervey Bay.
16. IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast
When: 8 September 2019
Where: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: 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.
17. Coolangatta Gold
The Challenge: Pretty much to become a master of the seas.
One of the most challenging endurance races in surf sports, the 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: A copy of Aquaman (which was filmed on the Gold Coast) for inspiration.
How to reward yourself: Swap the adrenalin for lazy beach vibes and secret beaches with this 48-hour itinerary.
18. Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival
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 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 and of course… a bike.
How to reward yourself: With 20,000 cheering fans and a recovery stroll through the Noosa National Park.
19. Brisbane UCI Tissot Track World Cup
When: 13-15 December 2019
The Challenge: Round 5 of the 2019 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup Series rolls into Brisbane in mid-December, bringing with it elite riders and the promise of three days of thrilling action.
This event is strictly for the elites, so leave the bike and lycra at home for your visit to the Anna Meares Velodrome.
What you need: Enough courage to ask the boss for Friday off so you won’t miss a minute of the action.
How to reward yourself: How about an island adventure after the cycling finishes? Here’s the perfect way to explore Moreton Island, which is easily accessible by ferry from Brisbane.