What makes a locale ideal for triathletes? As a starting point for uncovering the nation’s best places to live for the swim-bike-run set, we asked readers across the country to weigh in with their picks. Then, the editors dug into research on the top vote getters to whittle our list down to 12 cities (listed in no particular order). What do these places all have in common? Of course they are home to some stellar swim, bike and run training venues and terrain. A vibrant multisport culture and community of fellow triathletes are two musts. What’s the flavor of the local racing scene? We also looked at other variables like climate and cost of living for a reality check.
San Diego, California
Population: 1.3 million
The birthplace of triathlon has remained one of the best places for triathletes to live: consistent 75-degree days for year-round training, hilly inland roads or flat coastal routes, multiple outdoor pools, plenty of local races and one of the nation’s largest triathlon clubs. Considering Triathlete is based here, we may be partial to our surroundings, but the overall healthy lifestyle in Southern California makes for an abundance of triathlon opportunities.
Training highlight: Swim
If you can’t make one Masters group, there’s likely another one happening close by and it’s probably outdoors—the University of California San Diego, Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club, Encinitas YMCA and the 50-meter outdoor pool at the Carlsbad Alga Norte Aquatic Center are a few of the best programs. La Jolla Cove is a popular spot for open-water swimming, but if the ocean intimidates you, there are a plethora of protected coves in Mission Bay.
The early-season Ironman 70.3 California sells out every year; local races San Diego International Triathlon, Solana Beach Triathlon and TriRock San Diego (owned by Triathlete parent company, Competitor Group) all draw a mix of beginners and elites.
Don’t move here if…
The benefits of SoCal life don’t outweigh the infamous “sunshine tax,” which is the term used to describe the lower average income but higher cost of living. (In 2015, the median home sale price was $505,000.)
Did you know?
The Tri Club of San Diego is one of the nation’s largest, with nearly 2,000 members, and the perks are awesome—workout options every day of the week, organized races free to members, a private annual viewing of the NBC broadcast of the Ironman World Championship, and all-star speakers such as Chrissie Wellington, Dave Scott and Mirinda Carfrae have headlined club meetings.