Start training: Queensland endurance events to get the heart racing
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, heart-racing events you can find anywhere in the world. From IRONMAN Australia events to marathons and multi-day cycling challenges, these are some of the best Queensland endurance events.
Start cooking a batch of carbs and get your training plan in order, pronto.
Brisbane Cycling Festival
When: 12 March – 5 April 2020
Where: Anna Meares Velodrome and the streets of Brisbane
The Challenge: The Brisbane Cycling Festival has a range of events, so you can pick the challenge that suits you. The highlight is the Tour de Brisbane’s (5 April) 120km Gran Fondo (part of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series) on closed tracks throughout the city. 120km sound a bit tough? Maybe the 60km Medio, 30km Piccolo or 8km Community Ride is more your style.
What you need: Quads of steel are recommended; but a bike, gels and steel-like determination are the only mandatories.
How to reward yourself: Bikes, beers and beats at the final of the internationally-renowned Six Day Series (3-5 April) at the Anna Meares Velodrome. Watch the world’s best track cyclists compete across madison, time trials, derny racing, team eliminations, scratch races and points races.
Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival
When: 13-15 March 2020
Where: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast
The Challenge: The main event of the Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival is Sunday’s Olympic-distance triathlon: 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run, but the real challenge is prying yourself away from Mooloolaba Beach to start the cycle leg.
The day before isn’t just foam-rolling and smoothies on the beach. Head track-side to watch the pros tackle a sprint distance triathlon in the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup.
What you need: First time triathletes don’t need to own gear like the professionals you’ll watch on Saturday. A bike, swim suit (a tri-suit or two piece that can be worn for all events is ideal), goggles, swim cap and running shoes are all you need for your first go.
How to reward yourself: Dining in Mooloolaba is continuing an upward spiral, driven by local seafood and access to the nearby food-bowl of the Hinterland. Check out 11 of our top picks from the Sunshine Coast, with special mention to Pier 33 and Rice Boi in the heart of Mooloolaba.
The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships (The Aussies)
When: 18-26 April 2020
Where: Broadbeach SLSC and North Burleigh SLSC, Gold Coast
The Challenge: Australia’s 314 Surf Clubs come together to compete in more than 400 beach and ocean events spanning beach sprints, Ironman events, board races and everything in between at The Aussies – this is Australia’s finest Surf Life Savers at their peak.
What you need: For the competitors, years of practice and dedication. For everyone else, a loud cheer and a firm clap to encourage the athletes to the finish.
How to reward yourself: You’re on the Gold Coast, so the options are endless – visit one of the Coast’s best restaurants, go on a craft-beer crawl or maybe head to the Hinterland for a change of scenery.
Runaway Noosa Marathon
When: 23 May 2020
The Challenge: As one of Australia’s newest marathons, the 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’ll 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.
Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championships and IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns
When: 7 June 2020
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, there are 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. If you’re not a competitor, it’s worth coming to watch the spectacle yourself from the sidelines, sans-sweat.
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’ll also have the superhuman ability to swim to most of these island resorts. Well maybe not, but pretty darn close.
Gold Coast Marathon
When: 4-5 July 2020
Where: Gold Coast
The Challenge: The Gold Coast Marathon brings in more than 26,000 participants of all ages and abilities to compete across multiple formats. 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.
Tour of the Tropics
When: 31 July – 2 August 2020
Where: Tropical North Queensland
The Challenge: The Tour of the Tropics is back in 2020, pedalling its way through the Atherton Tablelands and the Wet Tropics Rainforests over three days of cycling action.
What you need: The ability to focus on the road in front of you while riding across lush rolling hills and the oldest living rainforest in the world. This is an event for multitaskers.
How to reward yourself: Swap the cycling tights for a wetsuit and enjoy a day exploring the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.
Reef to Reef MTB
When: 6-9 August 2020
Where: Tropical North Queensland
The Challenge: As one of Australia’s newest mountain biking stage races, Reef to Reef MTB 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. There are plenty of flowing tracks through tropical rainforests that will have you screaming in delight.
What you need: The ability to focus, peddle for four days and execute the perfect shakas while riding a bike.
How to reward yourself: You can’t complete a race with reef in its title twice without visiting the holy grail of reefs. Here’s 8 epic ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef.
IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast
When: 13 September 2020
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 Mooloolaba Main Beach then onto a 90km bike from Mooloolaba 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.
Noosa Triathlon Multisport Festival
When: November 2020 (date TBC)
The Challenge: Well, the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival is simply 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. Queensland endurance events don’t get much more iconic.
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 on race day and a recovery stroll through the Noosa National Park the next.
When: October 2020 (date TBC)
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 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
Hamilton Island Triathlon and Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim
When: November 2020 (dates TBC)
Where: Hamilton Island, the Whitsundays
The challenge: If you’re going to do a triathlon, attempting it on an island in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef is a pretty good idea. To second that, if you’re going to do an ocean swim, you might as well depart from one of the best beaches in the world. Actually, what even is the challenge here?
What you need: The ability to not switch over to island time the moment you land (good luck), snorkel and fins once the hard part is over and as always for a triathlon, a bike.
How to reward yourself: Stay a little longer. that’s it. You’re in the Whitsundays, you’re already rewarding yourself.
Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival
When: Not happening in 2020. Next edition May 2021
Where: North Stradbroke Island.
The Challenge: Surf, sand, road and dirt combines in nature’s ultimate playground. The original off-road 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 an 8.5km run featuring a mix of coastal trails.
What you need: The tenacity to tackle this offroad course. Your own mountain bike is required to complete the Straddie Salute thanks to 5km of the 18km ride being on 4WD track. If you have a road bike, enter the Straddie Pure instead which includes a 20km ROAD cycle to Amity village and back.
How to reward yourself: Stay a little longer to soak up the island vibes with this local’s guide to North Stradbroke Island.