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The Ultimate Triathlon and Duathlon Bucket List: Asia’s Best Races

Asia is not just a continent of immense beauty, tropical paradise, mouthwatering cuisine and diverse cultures; it’s also a playground for endurance athletes seeking to blend racing with tropical paradise vacations.  Asia offers a treasure trove of races, each with its own unique charm and set of challenges.  From temperate to tropical weather, urban landscapes and picturesque mountain and seascape, Asia presents a diverge range of unforgettable settings for the endurance enthusiasts.  AsiaTRI lists down the must-experience races in this continent, in no particular order:

 

  • LAGUNA PHUKET TRIATHLON (Phuket, Thailand)

Kickstarting our list is one of the oldest events in Asia, Laguna Phuket Triathlon.   This event is a favorite among expats based in Southeast Asia. This race is renowned for its unique course, which includes a swim in both the Andaman Sea and a freshwater lagoon, a hilly bike course that takes you through the island’s tropical landscapes, and a run around the luxurious Laguna Phuket resort complex. The event is part of a week-long festival of sport, making it a perfect family getaway.  Its 30th Anniversary race will happen on November 17, 2024.

 

  • CHALLENGE TAIWAN (Taitung, Taiwan)

Challenge Taiwan is arguably the world’s biggest multisport festival, with easily more than 7,000 athletes converging in one weekend to participate in varying triathlon distances.  Challenge Taiwan takes place in the picturesque east coast town of Taitung and is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and stunning course.  From mini sprint for junior athletes, sprint and Olympic distances, and half and full distance for those looking for a challenge, Challenge Taiwan truly welcomes anyone looking to combine competition with exploration of Taiwan’s rich cultural and natural heritage. The race starts with a swim in the Flowing Lake, followed by a bike course that winds through the soaring Carp Mountains and spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline showcasing Taiwan’s natural beauty. The run combines the cultural heart of Taitung city with the beautiful Pipa Lake Park, the surrounding tranquil rice fields and orchards and vibrant ocean promenade.

 

  • SUBIC INTERNATIONAL TRIATHLON (Subic Bay, Philippines)

With its 31st race coming on May 4-5, 2024, it is Southeast Asia’s oldest and longest running race.  With its usual date happening on the middle of summer on the Philippines, the race is known for its hot and humid conditions.   Its iconic stature makes it as one of the must-do races for Filipino triathletes, and being tagged as a Asian Cup race by World Triathlon makes it a must-see event for spectators and supporters.  The multiple lap run course makes for a vibrant and festive atmosphere as friends and supporters cheer their athletes along Subic Bay’s business district area.

 

  • BINTAN TRIATHLON (Bintan, Indonesia)

Before TriFactor Asia revived the race last year, there was a mainstay 70.3 race in Bintan, and way before that, MetaMan Bintan.  Just an hour of ferry ride away from Singapore, the Bintan Triathlon offers crystal clear waters for the swim, a challenging bike course with rolling hills, and a run through the resort’s landscaped gardens. It’s a tropical athlete’s paradise.

 

  • IRONMAN 70.3 VIETNAM (Da Nang, Vietnam)

It was awarded as AsiaTRI’s Best Destination Race (Long Course Category) for 2023, and it should remain that way this year.  Ironman 70.3 Vietnam in Da Nang showcases the charm of central Vietnam with a race-cation offering that features the country’s historic landmarks, scenic beachscape, and awesome local cuisine.

The signature run with a view of Da Nang’s beaches offers athletes a picturesque finish, making this event a perfect blend of challenge and cultural immersion.

 

  • MIYAKOJIMA STRONGMAN TRIATHLON (Miyakojima Island, Okinawa, Japan)
See also:  Video: Team SALA from Bangkok is ready for Ironman 70.3 Worlds

This is Asia’s oldest triathlon race, first held in 1985 and its 38th edition happening this coming April 14, 2024.  This is also Japan’s most popular triathlon race, and certainly sells out fast.   More than 1400 athletes will toe the line this year although in year’s past, the capacity has reached more than 1700 participants.  The previous races pre-pandemic had a unique format of 3k swim, 150k bike and a 42.2k run.   The 2024 race will be shorter, with a 3km-123km-35km leg distances.  The course covers almost every part of Miyako Island and the neighboring remote island of Ikema Island by bridge, boasting a truly scenic coastline view of the Pacific ocean.  Japan’s triathlete population is one the biggest in Asia and this race is almost impossible to get into.

 

  • IRONMAN 70.3 DESARU COAST MULTISPORT FESTIVAL (Desaru Coast, Malaysia)

The Desaru Coast Multisport Festival is relatively a new race, with the 2022 race its maiden event.  Desaru Coast is a coastal resort area in Southeastern Johor, Peninsular Malaysia, and is only 1.5-2 hours on road from Singapore. The race stands out as one of the best in Asia, relatively to its bike course that features almost perfect smooth road conditions and the canopy of trees and lush vegetation that hugs the road.  If you are one of the triathletes that treats cycling as their favorite leg, you could not make a pass signing up for Desaru Coast 70.3.   Ironman 70.3 Desaru Coast was awarded the Best Bike Course in Asia in the Long Course category in 2023.

 

  • IRONMAN 70.3 LAPU-LAPU (Cebu, Philippines)

This is the Philippines’ oldest Ironman-branded race, with the first race happening in Camsur in Southern Luzon in 2009, and has been in Cebu Island since 2012.   This race was used to be called Ironman 70.3 Philippines, but for this year has been rebranded as Ironman 70.3 Lapu-Lapu.  This race was a regular winner of AsiaTRI’s best swim course as the race featured crystal clear water and rich of coral and sea life.  The new bike route also featured a ride across the longest and the tallest bridge in the Philippines, the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.  The 8.9km bridge connects Mactan Island to Cebu City.  To top things off, a throng of spectators and local cheer squads line-up various portions of the bike and run route, setting off a festive and fun race atmosphere.

 

  • T100 SINGAPORE (Singapore)

Last year it was called PTO Asian Open, and PTO rebranded their races this year to become part of their T100 Triathlon World Tour.  The unique scheduling of t100 Singapore is that the top-tier Pros come in and when they race, you can watch them compete as the Pro Men and Women race take place when the age-groupers are not racing.   It’s very rare that bustling city roads in Singapore are closed exclusively for a race, so participants will have a good view of Singapore’s modern skyline and lush green urban spaces. This should be a must-not miss race, and even if you can’t swim, duathlon is also offered for amateurs.  This is the only opportunity in Asia wherein you can watch and cheer on your favorite triathlon superstar, and race the exact course, all in the same weekend!

 

  • POWERMAN MALAYSIA (Putrajaya, Malaysia)

This is not only Asia’s premier duathlon event, but in 2023 it attracted more than 4000 athletes, taking the claim as the world’s biggest duathlon race.  The host venue is Putrajaya, Malaysia’s federal administrative center and planned city. The infrastructure is incredible and, on the weekends, it becomes a biking destination due to its wide roads and multiple lanes for biking.   It is the prefect destination for a duathlon race by the thousands.  The 10-60-10 run-bike-run format also features professional and elite duathletes while the shorter 5-30-5 race is more palatable to Malaysia’s large running and biking enthusiast population.

See also:  How to Become a More Efficient Triathlon Swimmer

 

  • IRONMAN 70.3 PHU QUOC (Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam)

Phu Quoc, often referred to as the “Pearl Island,” is Vietnam’s largest island located in the Gulf of Thailand. Over the years, it has attracted tourists from all over the world due to its pristine beaches, lush tropical landscapes, and vibrant local culture.  The inaugural 70.3 race last year did not disappoint.   The race venue and hotel area are compact and all are within walking distance of each other as the Phu Quoc Marina Resort and Entertainment Complex houses it all in.

The run course lines up along the beach resorts and the white sand beach coastline, making it a awesome scenic triathlon finish.

 

  • TITAN 77.7 PHILIPPINES (Clark Freeport, Philippines)

Titan 77.7 Philippines earns its tagline as Asia’s toughest duathlon race with a unique and challenging duathlon race format of a 4km run-100km bike and a finishing 21km half-marathon.   While the bike course does not feature steep hills, the bike course registers a terrain that is only 18% flat.  Clark Freeport is the de facto duathlon capital of the Philippines, with its roads and facilities tailored to this type of race.  Located 80kms north of Manila, Clark was a former US military air base and was the largest base outside of the US mainland during its operative years.  If you are a duathlete looking for a race that can test your limit, Titan 77.7 is a race that you can take on without breaking the bank.

  • IRONMAN MALAYSIA (Langkawi Island, Malaysia)

This Ironman race in Langkawi Malaysia was once nicknamed the Toughest Show on Earth.   It consistently ranks as one of the hardest race in the global Ironman race circuit.  The signature suffer fest denominator is the heat and humidity on the run course.  As the oldest Ironman race in Asia, Ironman Malaysia (and also Ironman 70.3 Langkawi, held simultaneously) remains a favorite race in Asia, especially for Japanese athletes looking for World Championship slots. Last year, the 70.3 race was the Asia-Pacific Championships for Ironman, where top pro couple Ashleigh Gentle and Josh Amberger were crowned champions.

 

  • IRONMAN 70.3 BANGSAEN (Bangsaen, Thailand)

Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen offers athletes a unique racing experience in the coastal town of Bangsaen, Thailand. The race begins with a swim in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand, followed by a bike course that takes athletes through the region’s lush landscapes and rural settings, offering a glimpse into local life. The run course winds along the scenic beachfront, providing stunning ocean views and a lively atmosphere with local spectators cheering on the competitors. making it a memorable addition to any triathlete’s race calendar.  In an Ironman survey, Bangsaen has the highest score as Asia’s favourite 70.3 race.

 

On the cusp:  Beijing International Triathlon has not revived their race since the end of pandemic.  Bali International Triathlon is listed for fall 2024 in their website for their 13th edition but has no definite date yet.   Ironman Japan in Hokkaido makes a return in September this year and is already sold-out.

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