A Complete Guide to 70.3 Races for Beginners with Our Top 6 Courses
August 01, 2022

A Complete Guide to 70.3 Races for Beginners with Our Top 6 Courses

Ready to take your triathlon game to the next level with a 70.3? Or maybe you’re toying with the idea of training for a 70.3 but you’d like to know what to expect before you fully commit? You’ve come to the right place! Before you dive in, or start pedaling or running, it’s helpful to know exactly what you’re getting into. 

A 70.3 race isn’t exactly something you can just register for and attend the next week. Competing in a Ironman 70.3 race takes months of preparation for training, and most of the time involves travel. We’re here to support our fellow racers in each step of their journey- so this one’s for you, the new racers! Keep reading for our guide to 70.3 races for beginners, including the best ones to try. 

What is a 70.3 Race

If you’re new-new to the racing world, you might not even know what exactly to expect from a 70.3 swim, bike, run race. No worries, we of course have answers!

A 70.3 race is characterized by specific distances in each of the triathlon events- swimming, cycling, and running. 

Here’s exactly what you’ll see , distance-wise, during a 70.3:


1.2 miles/1.9k


56 miles/90k


13.1 miles/21.1k

The total distance is… you guessed it, 70.3 miles. The names for these races can differ, depending on the company hosting the event. The IRONMAN brand has several 70.3 races, while others are often called “middle-distance” races. The bottom line here is committing to a 70.3 means lots of careful planning and training, no matter who’s hosting the event or where it is. 

Are you ready to start prepping for a 70.3? We’ll share our thoughts on what makes some races better for beginners in the next section. 

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The Difference in 70.3 Races: What Makes Some Better for Beginners

All 70.3 races have to fit the same criteria that we’ve outlined above. But of course, there are some differences that might make some events more conducive to beginners. 

Here are just a few things to note when looking for 70.3 races to start your journey:

  • Cutoffs: Each leg of a 70.3 race has a specific cutoff time. Racers must finish in under that time in order to continue on to the next. This is just to ensure all racers are safe throughout the entire distance, so learn the cutoff times for the race you’re entering, and train accordingly. 
  • Course difficulty: course can be all over the map as far as terrain. Some courses have an extra challenging bike ride while others might have a super hilly run. Tailor your training to your 70.3 course. There’s no one size fits all training solution here. THis also means you can choose a 70.3 that suits your style. 
  • Finishing times: overall finishing times are a good indicator of a course’s difficulty. You can see the average times of other racers throughout each leg of the race and use that info to gauge how easy or hard that leg is, or get a feel for the entire race. 

  • Best 70.3 Races for Beginners

    We considered the factors above and came up with our own list of 70.3 races that are best for beginners, both in the United States and internationally.

    Best 70.3 Races for Beginners: United States Courses

    First, our best courses for beginners in the US. These courses all are known to be great starters for those just starting their 70.3 career. 

    Santa Cruz

    A triathlon along the Cali coast? Yes, please! The scenery alone is worth it. The race ends on the beach after the course takes racers through all of Santa Cruz’s most well known spots, including the boardwalk. This course is flat all around and the swim leg is a great one for beginners.


    If you like your swim, bike and run in a cooler climate with a side of Mother Nature’s finest landscape, consider Timberman, located in Laconia, New Hampshire. Athletes swim in Lake Opechee, with clear but crisp waters. The bike and run legs are as easy as you can expect from a 70.3 course, too. Overall, this one is a beginners dream!

    Atlantic City

    This course is flat, flat, flat. No hills means a much easier bike and run. The route is also a scenic one, too. The swim leg here is a little more difficult, however you’ll be expending less energy on the other two events. Just be sure to register early for the Atlantic City 70.3, because it’s almost always full. 

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    Best 70.3 Races for Beginners: International Courses

    If your passports have been needing a little attention, an international 70.3 might be in your future. Below are our favorite international 70.3 courses for beginners


    The Mediterranean coastline gets our vote for one of the most beautiful courses. But this 70.3 is also a perfect starter for those that aren’t experienced in 70.3s… yet. Each event in this 70.3 has low finishing times, so it’s well worth the trip to add this one to your list as potentials for your first few 70.3s. 

    Sunshine Coast

    Australia’s beaches aren’t just made for surfing… although they’re great for that, too. We love this course for beginners because even though the swim is in the ocean, it’s a less intimidating one. Plus, the run and bike legs aren’t as difficult as other courses, so you don’t have to constantly focus on what’s next. 


    This course made our list because it has one of the easiest open water swims. Since so many new racers have some level of open water swim anxiety, we wanted to make sure we had an easy swim on our list! Swimmers complete one loop in the Adriatic Sea, so once you have this race under your belt, you’ll definitely feel ready for another. 

    Final Thoughts 

    Now get out there and choose your race! If you’re ready to add a 70.3 to your list, then any of these six courses would be a great place to start. Visit our website for more tips and tricks to help you crush tomorrow, and the gear you need to make it happen.