World's best triathlons: 31 to do before you die
So you want to go out in style? You want to say, yep, done that and, without doubt, got the T-Shirt? But with so many races to choose from, how will your tri racing CV look when it’s time to shuffle off this mortal coil? Well, look no further! Here's our list of the world's best triathlons...
A swim in the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea, a rolling bike in the Tuscan Archipelago and a marathon run through the Italian resort of Marina di Campo. Small wonder this event is sold-out months in advance. Welcome to Elbaman, Italy’s most famous tri and greatest (and, admittedly, only) long-distance event, held since 2005.
Its setting is Elba, Italy’s third-largest Island (after Sicily and Sardinia), which lies 20km southwest of the mainland town of Piombino in the province of Livorno. With a 7am start, the swim features two 1.9km laps in the warm 20°C-plus waters of Marina di Campo Bay, with athletes exiting onto the bay’s golden sands and into T1 before three 60km loops around the island’s western end. If the waters are almost always calm, the bike course makes a lumpy contrast; it has 2,500m of elevation gain and barely a flat section anywhere in its 180km. Mediterranean scrub, pine forests and views of the Corsican coast about 50km further west provide the eye candy, along with the gorgeous nineteenth-century fishing village of Marciana Marina on the north coast, which is traversed three times.
The 42.1km run (three 14km laps) takes athletes north from Marina di Campo and then back to a coastline finish. This section is fast and flat, with plenty of support en route, but athletes face the rising September heat here, with temperatures hitting the mid- to upper 20s, and the three-loop format is mentally exhausting.
Numbers are restricted to just 280 for the long-distance showpiece (a middle-distance attracts 430 racers and is held alongside the full Elbaman) to ensure clear road racing and a manageable mass swim start.
While many pro elites are absent, the start list has a huge international flavour, with athletes from over 20 nations regularly racing.
Continue reading our guide to the world's best triathlon (2/31)