2017 Best Triathlon Races in Asia

Another race season has ended and the sport of triathlon in Asia keeps on growing.  Our 2017 calendar had over 70 events in 12 different countries. This year, AsiaTRI covered 49 events from all over the world, which included world championships.  Of the 49 events our correspondents covered, 34 came from Asia and Oceania region, where majority of our followers are from.  No other triathlon media outlet was present in so many  races in the region, which allows us to create a list of the best events of the year. Most of these events are yearly races and we hope to get you inspired to read the course reviews, check the best photos, and sign up for the 2018 editions of the race. Here are  2017’s Best Triathlon Races in Asia, broken down in both long and short course:

1. Best Overall Triathlon in Asia – 2017

Short Course: Laguna Phuket Triathlon (November)

The 2017 edition was the 24th one for Laguna Phuket Triathlon, and is one of the most iconic and longest-running race in Asia.  “Fun and challenging” always comes to mind when racing Laguna Phuket, and the race experience it gives to athletes has not changed all these years.  The  improved bike course was revised to ensure a safer, faster race and – as a result – better race experience along the scenic view of tropical parklands, rubber plantations, pineapple fields, beaches, hills, temples and local villages of Thalang District in the North of Phuket.   Make sure you watch out for the 25th year edition next year, as this event is one of the must-do in the region if you are after a great race experience.

See the course review here>> Laguna Phuket Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Laguna Phuket Gallery

2018 Race Date: TBA. See their website here>> Laguna Phuket Triathlon


Long Course: Ironman 70.3 Bintan (August)

Warm and calm waters, very straight forward and easy to navigate loop, the “inverse L shape” swim course is very beginner friendly as the athletes starts from waist deep waters in several different waves. The venue is what you visualize when you close your eyes and think about a paradise beach. No one in sight, coconut trees and blue waters.  Important to note that Bintan 70.3 was also awarded with a best bike course award before and treats cyclists with lush, dense green forests to fantastic coastal views.   Add this up with a more spectator-friendly run course along the Lagio Bay lake.  One of the must-go destination races in Asia, and the award as  the most family-friendly race, makes this the best overall triathlon in Asia for 2017!

See the course review here>> Ironman 70.3 Bintan Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman 70.3 Bintan Gallery

2018 Race Date: August 19, 2018. See their website here>> Ironman 70.3 Bintan


2. Most Challenging Triathlon in Asia – 2017

Most Challenging Short Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Laguna Phuket Triathlon

No changes here from last year, Laguna Phuket Triathlon is still the short course winner as the most challenging race in Asia.

The bike course is shorter (from 55km from 2 years ago) but the difficult portions of the course is still there, but instead of navigating them in opening stages, you get to climb the short and steep hills of Phuket  in the later stages when your legs are already tired.

The swim and the run course remains exactly the same and they both also have its own challenges. The first half of the swim is held in the beautiful waters of Bangtao Beach, then you run another 100 meters across the beach to dive into the resort’s lagoon. This is a challenge since the ocean water has a higher density than the lagoon (or a swimming pool), so there is a sinking feeling for the first few hundred meters of the next swim section. The run is mostly on the golf course and its undulations are not significant. The only special consideration for this course is the terrain, as the mix of grass and dirt road makes it a bit slower compared with a hard surface.  “Fun and challenging” is always a byword when racing Laguna Phuket Triathlon, and it was also judged as the short course winner for Best Overall Triathlon in Asia.

Most Challenging Long Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Challenge Kanchanaburi (October)

Same with the short course winner, Challenge Kanchanaburi still holds the recognition as the most challenging Long course triathlon is Asia for 2017.   This year’s race winner, Fredrik Croneberg finished in 4:18:24, far off from his performance at almost a similar distanced race in Challenge Iskander-Puteri one month apart where he placed 2nd but timed a sub-four 3:58:29.  Every time a race winner fails to go sub-four and finishes with a time near 4:20’s expect the course is hard and harder for age-group triathletes.  The average finish time was 6 hours and 42 minutes, definitely a reflection of Challenge Kanchanburi’s hilly bike and run course.

No breaking of personal records here, but if challenging courses are your thing, this race must be in your list.

See the course review here>> Challenge Kanchanaburi Course Review

2018 Race Date: TBA. See their website here>> Challenge Kanchanaburi


3. Best Inaugural Triathlon in Asia – 2017

Best Inaugural Short Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Challenge Nakhon Nayok (Olympic Distance race)

It takes only two hours to reach Nakhon Nayok from Bangkok. If flying from overseas, your best options are a private taxi (very affordable in Thailand) or renting a car, then once in town, organizers provided shuttle buses from the city hall to the race venue, an army base around 20min drive from downtown.

The swim course is lined and with buoy markers.  The bike course is relatively flat with only 230m of elevation to tackle on.  And the run is pancake flat around the military base.

See the course review here>> Challenge Nakhon Nayok Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Challenge Nakhon Nayok Gallery

2018 Race Date: TBA. See their website here>> Challenge Nakhon Nayok


Best Inaugural Long Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: IM 70.3 Langkawi

Nearly 700 athletes joined the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Malaysia race and was held in the same day as the longer Ironman category.   It made sense for the organizers to provide a shorter category for those not ready to tackle the iron-distance event.  Logistics and set-up wise, the 70.3 participants were made to race in the same course but took 1 lap each of the swim-bike and run courses.  And if you are thinking of doing the Ironman race in Langkawi in the near future, joining the 70.3 race gives you the perfect recon work you need.

See the course review here>> Ironman 70.3 Malaysia Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman Malaysia Gallery

2018 Race Date: Nov. 17, 2018. See their website here>> Ironman 70.3 Malaysia


4. Best Triathlon Swim Course in Asia 2017

Best Triathlon Swim Short Course 2017: Sprint Distance race Ironman Vietnam

Da Nang is Vietnam’s most popular tourist destination when it comes to spending time in a paradise-like beach, the sun comes up very early in Vietnam, so even a 6.30am start time allows you to fully enjoy the experience of swimming in one of the nicest city beaches in the world.

See also:  Top 10 Asian triathlons - 2nd semester 2015

Best Long Distance Triathlon Swim Course in Asia 2017: Ironman 70.3 Cebu (August)

The white sand beach of Mactan Cebu’s most popular resort Shangrila makes for a nice start as you line up and run to tackle Asia’s best triathlon swim course for 2017.   Ironman’s new rolling start scheme also makes sure you have the space to swim comfortably and appreciate the pristine and clear waters of Mactan.  With a one-lap course that is lined with lane ropes and buoy markers all throughout the course, just make sure you won’t be distracted too much with the existing marine life that you can see from below.

The 2018 event will be the Asia-Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championships.

See the course review here>> Ironman 70.3 Cebu Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman Cebu 70.3 Gallery

2018 Race Date: Aug 5, 2018. See their website here>> Ironman 70.3 Cebu


5. Best Triathlon Bike Course in Asia 2017

Best  Triathlon Bike Short Course in Asia 2017:  Pattana Triathlon

The bike course in Pattana is a mix of everything, small local roads up to wide highways, rollings hills to flats and false flats.  But the best part is, it is 100% closed to traffic, making it a safe course for everybody.   It is also convenient to international athletes as it is only a 90 minute drive from the main airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi.   In the 2017 race, they included a unique Master distance of 1.5-75-15, perfect for those wanting more than a standard distance.

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Pattana Triathlon Gallery

2018 Race Date: TBA. See their website here>> Pattana Triathlon

Best Long Distance Triathlon Bike Course in Asia 2017: Sungailiat Triathlon-Indonesia (April)

Sungailiat has a very unique bike format since it is drafting legal. This however didn’t change much of the race dynamics as expected as in 2017 there were just over 500 athletes across all three distances which spread things nicely.

The course is mostly flat with several rolling hills spread through the course and your random longer or steeper hill here and there, but nothing that changes the style of this race. Road conditions is mostly really good, only with a few very short segments of poor quality.

Safety is also on the priority list, from the kilometers marks 5 to 15, the bike course runs through one of the islands busiest roads, the local authorities closed one full lane 100% to traffic.

See the course review here>> Sungailiat Triathlon Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Sungailiat Triathlon Gallery

2018 Race Date: April 21, 2018. See their website here>> Sungailiat Triathlon


6. Best Triathlon Run Course in Asia 2017

Best  Triathlon Run Short Course in Asia 2017:  Bali International Triathlon

Different than the old course which was extremely hilly and had two long segments on sand, the new course is one loop for both sprint and Olympic Distance events, and is all flat, through Sanur village with only a 200-meter segment at the beach.

Athletes still enjoyed the Balinese flavor by running past several local temples, beach and the local town, while enjoying a fast course.

See the course review here>> Bali International Triathlon Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Bali International Triathlon Gallery

2018 Race Date: TBA. See their website here>> Bali International Triathlon


Best Triathlon Run Long Course in Asia 2017: Ironman 70.3 Bintan (August)

The run course is mostly flat with two lops of 10km, mostly around Bintan resort’s Lagio Bay lake.   There will be varying scenic spots and the designated spectator zones makes for a nice boost for morale.  As most races in a tropical island, the weather is likely to be hot.  But don’t be surprised with a casual storm or rain.   Prior editions of this race, it was overcast and the temperature was in the mid 20’s Celsius early on the bike and raised to a very low 30 Celsius at noon. That combined with very frequent aid stations made this race cooler than other Ironman 70.3 events in the region such as Malaysia, Philippines or Thailand.

7. Most Convenient Triathlon Race in Asia – 2017

Most Convenient Short Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Singapore International Triathlon (September)

Singapore’s most premier triathlon event has been running for 34 years now, and it started when triathlon was largely unknown in Asia. The 2017 event attracted more than 2000 entries, and nearly half of them were foreigners from 57 countries.  It just reflects Singapore’s accessibility as a major asset in holding the event.  It’s airport, Changi, is one of the best and busiest in the world, and has direct flights to and from most major cities of the world.  Not hard to plan and race Singapore International Triathlon, go in the day before the event, and can easily go out later in the day after racing. It is just not the case when you race abroad though.  Best scenario is you never transfer from one hotel to another to visit Singapore’s top tourist attractions right after the race.

2018 Race Date: Sept. 23, 2018. See their website here>> Singapore International Triathlon


Most Convenient Long Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Ironman 70.3 Thailand-Phuket (November)

Located only twenty minutes away from Phuket International Airport and with direct flights to over 20 cities in Asia, once you landed in one of  Phuket resorts, you can kick back, relax, enjoy the resort and look forward to race day and the activities around it.

The organizers in the event also makes it life easier for all the athletes with shuttle buses going around all the time, picking up athletes at several hotels and taking them to all pre-race and race day activities.

Phuket is one of the most sought-after destination locations in Southeast Asia and it is easy to take a mini-holiday right after the race.  You get to finish a legit half-distance triathlon and reward yourself with the many attractions Phuket has to offer.

See the course review here>> Ironman 70.3 Thailand Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman 70.3 Thailand Gallery

2018 Race Date: TBA . See their website here>> Ironman 70.3 Thailand


8. Best Destination Triathlon in Asia – 2017

Best  Destination Short Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Laguna Phuket Triathlon

Destination races are a mix of everything great and good when you race abroad.  Superbly-organized race that gives the natural high when you finish, and the experience you always seek as a triathlete.  A location that offers a multitude of options to maximize and enjoy your stay.  Laguna Phuket Triathlon offers all of that and more.  As the awardee for this year’s Best Overall Triathlon, there is indeed no doubt that this is one of Asia’s must-do triathlon event.

Then there’s the multitude of things to do options:  extend your stay and hone up your triathlon skills?  There’s the nearby Thanyapura Sports Center.   If you opt for relaxing post-race mini-holiday, you can go island hopping, and visit Phi Phi island, location of the popular movie, The Beach.  Phuket also has impressive night markets, and more fun activities its resorts has plenty to offer.

See also:  AsiaTRI Gallery: 2017 Ironman 70.3 Philippines Run Photos

Best  Destination Long Course Triathlon in Asia 2017: Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Western Australia (December)

Many of you maybe wondering why a race in Australia is included in the list.  Just like last year when Ironman Cairns was in our list, there are just a dearth of iron-distance races in this part of the world, and Asia has always been connected with Oceania countries when it comes to triathlon events.  We are quoting an article we made about Western Australia, particularly Busselton:

“Busselton was picked in the 2016 Athletes’ Choice Awards as one of the awardees in the “Best Host City Experience”.  A finisher commented “This town is everything you’d expect from a coastal Australian town.”

Busselton is best known for its iconic two-kilometre long jetty and calm turquoise bays.  Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the world, stretching almost 2 km out to sea from the town of Busselton, Western Australia.

But before wasting your legs to attend to the numerous activities Busselton has to offer you, triathletes will be pleasured to know that Ironman Western Australia is one of the best course to target a personal best goal for a full iron-distance event.   The swim was selected as one of the most pristine in the Ironman circuit and the bike and run courses, which run along the picturesque Geographe Bay, are one of the flattest in the whole Ironman racing circuit.   To end your Ironman season, Ironman Western Australia is the way to go.

These are the reasons why we award Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Western Australia as 2017 Best Destination Long Course Triathlon.

See the course review here>> Ironman Western Australia Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman Western Australia Gallery

2018 Race Date: Dec. 2, 2018 . See their website here>> Ironman Western Australia


9. Best Family-Friendly Race

Short Course: Hong Kong Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup (October)

When you think of Hong Kong and bring in your family for a race-cation, you immediately think of shopping and Disneyland.  The race is a sprint so it is not demanding pre-race in terms of training time, and you will  spend at the most half-day during the race, and it is not punishing on the recovery so you will have more time touring around with your kids in tow.

Long Course: Ironman 70.3 Bintan (July)

The resorts in Bintan offer a wide-variety of activities for the kids and non-racing spouses of athletes.  The beautiful beaches offer swim and play opportunities for the young ones.   Spouses can also relay and enjoy the spas in Bintan as they offer a wide range of experiences from ancient Asian and traditional Javanese massages to modern western therapies.  A mini-train for kids also tours around Bintan resort’s Plaza Lagoi.  As Singapore is a lay-over spot going into Bintan, Indonesia, your family can have a quick side-trip in Singapore’s top family-friendly tourist attractions:  Universal Studios, Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay and Night Safari.

10. Best Beginner-Friendly Race 

Short Course: Thailand Tri Dash-Phuket (May and October)

A mini-sprint for a triathlon (400m swim-20km bike-5km run), check.  50m pool for the swim, check.  Bike and run courses that are not challenging and technical, check!  If you wanna get your feet wet in the sport of triathlon, this is the race to target for.  For most newbies who have not race a triathlon yet, the biggest fear and hurdle is always the swim leg.   Swimming in a pool definitely eases up the nerves.

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Thailand Tri-Dash Phuket Gallery

2018 Race Date: May 19/Oct 20 . See their website here>> Thailand Tri-Dash

Runner-up: Bike King Sprint-Clark Philippines (November)

One of the go-to races for newcomers in triathlon in the Philippines.  Same as Tri-Dash Phuket, this is a mini-sprint (600m swim-20km bike-5k run), and the swim is in a 50m pool.  What makes it double easy for the newbie is the way the athletes are released on the start:  they start in a group of three for every 5 seconds.  No washing machine swim starts!  Bike is in the bike-friendly confines of Clark (less vehicles) and the run is flat inside a resort.


Long Course: Ironman Gurye-Korea (September)

There are only a handful of iron-distance races in Asia, and if a triathlete dreams of becoming an Ironman finisher, Ironman Gurye certainly deserves a look.  Let’s take a look at the course and weather conditions.  The swim is in a lake, and is a 2-loop swim with lines.  While water visibility maybe an issue, there is absolutely no current or waves to mind.  Also navigation is not a problem as the course is littered with buoy markers.  And since its a cold-weather race, it is wet-suit legal too.  The bike course, though not entirely flat, is fast with one of the best road surfaces to bike on.   The run is also flat, and a 3-loop affair with plenty of hydration stations along the route.  The weather is also just right, around 24 degrees, not too cold, perfect for racing!

See the course review here>> Ironman Gurye Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Ironman Gurye Gallery

2018 Race Date: Sept. 9, 2018 . See their website here>> Ironman Gurye-Korea


11. Best Off-Road Triathlon in Asia – 2017: Xterra Danao-Philippines

With the race being awarded as the Asia-Pacific XTerra Championship race for 2018, it just signifies how the 2017 race was organized and a reputation as one of the hardest off-road race in the XTerra Asia-Pacific circuit.  2017 Winner Ben Allen explains it well in a comment post-race:

“Very tough race. I’ve been racing professionally all over the world for six years now and this one’s probably the hardest and hottest race I’ve ever done,” said Weiss after finishing the challenging 1.5K swim, 40K mountain bike and 10K trail run course in 3 hours, 16 minutes.

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 XTerra Danao Gallery

2018 Race Date: Sept. 9, 2018 . See their website here>> XTerra Danao


12. Best Duathlon in Asia – 2017:  Powerman Malaysia

Powerman Malaysia is the world’s largest duathlon event, with the 2017 edition attracting more than 3,500 athletes.  The host venue is Putrajaya, Malaysia’s federal administrative centre and planned city. The infra-structure is incredible and on the weekends it becomes a ghost town, with 3-4 lane highways and almost no vehicle in sight, making it a perfect venue for multisport events. Another convenience of this event is its proximity to Kuala Lumpur international airport, and is only a quick twenty minute drive away. The most convenient location to stay is right by the start and transition area, this avoids the need of transportation on race morning and on day before for registration and bike check in.

The race in March 4, 2018 will be the Asian Powerman Duathlon Championships.

See the course review here>> Powerman Malaysia Course Review

See the Best Photos here>> 2017 Powerman Malaysia Gallery

2018 Race Date: March 4, 2018 . See their website here>> Powerman Malaysia


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