Five great altitude training destinations for triathletes

Fresh air, beautiful scenery and punishing terrain


(Image: Elizabeth Egan)


Altitude training is an increasingly important aspect of training for all elite endurance athletes, and triathletes are no different (writes Elizabeth Egan).

Indeed, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit from altitude training or the great facilities available in many of the world’s best altitude training venues. Mountain locations provide excellent terrain for cycling and running, and glacial lakes or reservoirs are ideal for open water swimming. The fresh air is an added bonus.

Boulder, CO, USA (1,655m)

Best time to visit: May to October

Boulder, the former training home of Chrissie Wellington, is particularly attractive for triathletes looking to live at altitude long-term. There are challenging cycling options in the Rocky Mountain foothills above the town and flat rides in the Eastern Plains.

Off-road running options are similarly varied. Open water swimming is available at Boulder Reservoir and there is no shortage of swimming pools, gym facilities, sports medicine clinics or specialist sports shops.

Font Romeu, France (1,850m)

Best time to visit: May to September

Font Romeu is the first choice of many European athletes, and triathletes are particularly well catered for in the sunny Pyrenees resort. There are challenging cycling options throughout the region, a synthetic athletics track at the National Altitude Training Centre (CNEA), a variety of hilly trail-type runs from the town, flatter running routes less than a 20 minute drive away, and 25m and 50m pools at CNEA.

Mammoth Lakes, CA, USA (2,400m)

Best time to visit: May to September

Mammoth Lakes offers excellent ‘live-high; train-low’ potential in California’s beautiful Eastern Sierra. The surrounding smooth surfaced roads, with long gradual climbs, are ideal for cycling, and there is a variety of tarmacked and off-road running routes. 

Open water swimming is available at Horseshoe Lake and there is a hot-spring heated pool and an athletics track just 15 minutes away.  Snowcreek Athletic Club has a swimming pool and good gym facilities.  Lake swims, bike time trials and mock triathlons organised by High Sierra Tri Club are open to non-members for a small fee. 

St Moritz, Switzerland (1,856m)

Best time to visit: May to September

British triathlon stars Non Stanford, Alister Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee are among those who have trained in St. Moritz. The high cost of living is somewhat offset by the beautiful scenery and laid-back atmosphere.

The quiet Engadin Valley roads provide challenging cycling options. Off-road trail options are particularly scenic and varied. Nearby Pontresina has a 25m swimming pool, and a new pool is due to open in St Moritz in 2014.

Falls Creek, Australia (1,530m)

Best time to visit: December to March

The beautiful Victorian Alps resort town of Falls Creek provides a good altitude training option in the Southern Hemisphere. The Bogong High Plains Road provides challenging cycling terrain and the 230km Begong Alpine Way which runs through the town includes three serious climbs in its circuit. The running options on the plateau above the town are relatively flat. Swimming is available in Rocky Valley Reservoir and there is a small community gym in the resort.

These towns and cities are among 15 venues featured in ‘Notes from higher grounds: an altitude training guide for endurance athletes’ (Kukimbia Huru Publishing), a new book by Elizabeth Egan. It details how to get to each venue, what facilities an athlete can expect when they get there, and how athletes can spend down time between training sessions. The book is available to purchase via


Have you trained at any of these destinations? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!