How to Race in a Faraway Place

Participating in a race is one of the best excuses to get away for a weekend or a couple of weeks.

A race allows you to experience a new place differently than other tourists. And afterward, the sense of accomplishment can make you feel you've really earned those vacation indulgences. It's the best of both worlds.

However, traveling for a triathlon takes a little more planning than the standard vacation. These tips will help get you prepared.

Race First, Vacation Second

There are two ways to go about planning a racing vacation:

  1. You can set your sights on one of those races you've always wanted to do and plan your vacation around it, or...
  2. You can choose a place you want to visit and find a race in the area.

Perhaps the best way to choose a race is based upon a rave review from a fellow triathlete who has competed in the event recently. Failing that, Active's search is also an excellent resource for finding races.

When a foreign race organizer makes the effort (and has the money) to pay for a display advertisement in a U.S. publication, it's often an indication of a well-organized event that takes good care of its far-traveling competitors.

Sign up as far in advance as possible. Since you're making vacation plans around the race, the last thing you want is to find out that the race is full or that you need to qualify after you've bought airline tickets.

Next, figure out where you'll stay. Larger races usually have deals with hotels for special rates. If you're pinching pennies, use a budget travel guidebook like Lonely Planet or Let's Go to find cheap hotels and hostels.

Although not frequently advertised, another option is homestays with local athletes. Less expensive than a hotel, homestays allow you to meet other athletes and get the locals view of the area. Contact the race director and ask about homestay options. If there isn't an official homestay program, use the bulletin boards or e-mail lists found on many race websites to make inquiries.

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