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Three reasons to race Challenge Cerrado

Taking place on the shores of Lake Paranoá, Challenge Cerrado is a middle distance race well worth travelling to South America for! Find out why you should consider adding it to your race calendar for next year...

Writer & Long Course Triathlete
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This weekend marks the 9th anniversary of Challenge Cerrado, a middle distance triathlon taking place in Brasilia – the capital city of Brazil since 1960. It’s not the biggest race on the Challenge circuit, but with a fast, flat course, an amazing swim in Lake Paranoá and the intriguing modern architecture of the city itself as a backdrop. This half distance race makes a strong case for adding a trip to South America to your race calendar next year.

As this year’s athletes get ready to take to the start line, we take a look at just a few of the reasons you should seriously consider racing Challenge Cerrado next year.

1. Spectacular swim location

The swim at Challenge Cerrado takes place in Lake Paranoá. This is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, with an area of ​​48 km². It was created during the construction of the city after the river was dammed. The average water temperature in April is a balmy 22 degrees C. Warm enough to be enjoyable, but not so warm that you risk having to do without the buoyancy of a wetsuit!

JK Bridge Challenge Cerrado
The JK Bridge is just one example of Brasilia’s famous architecture.

The race itself starts at the popular resort of Pontão do Lago Sul, with views of the famous Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge. Here you’ll find some of the best entertainment and restaurants around, creating a lively atmosphere – perfect for those post-race celebrations.

2. Fast, flat course that takes you on a tour of some of the best Brasilia sights

Challenge Cerrado might fall early in the season, but it’s a great race to choose if you want a new PR to send you in to the rest of the season feeling confident. After that calm swim, you’ll head out onto a fast and flat bike course which passes through some of the area’s top tourist spots.

Heading out of T2, the run course is 2 laps along the shores of the lake, with beautiful wooded areas to distract you from your legs and plenty of opportunities for spectators to cheer you on towards the finish.

3. Take a road less travelled race-cation

Turn your race schedule into a bit of an adventure by choosing an event that’s off the usual beaten race circuit. Brasilia is a super interesting city to visit, filled with architecture that feels more like a work of art. Founded in 1960, the architect Oscar Niemeyer based the design ‘Plano Pilot’ on the shape of an aircraft. It’s a city with a vibrant, diverse cultural scene with a big influence on the national music scene in Brazil.

challenge cerrado
Crossing the finish line is great. But crossing the finish line knowing you’ve still got an epic vacation to enjoy is even better!

If all that architecture and modern history isn’t floating your boat – Lake Paranoá might. For thrill seekers there’s plenty of water sports on offer here. And you can also learn about the story of the submerged town, Vila Amaury. Pontão do Lago Sul also offers up a lively scene with restaurants, bars and cafes to enjoy.

Away from the city and the resort, you can also extend your trip and explore some of Brazil’s incredible national parks. Here you’ll find the race’s namesake – Cerrado vegetation, along with trails and waterfalls to get out and explore.


Fast race course? Check. Cool location? Double check. Add in the opportunity to qualify for Challenge The Championship and you’ve got a pretty strong case to take a trip to South America next year!

Check out our Let’s Race… section for more inspiration and in-depth race guides.

Jenny Lucas-Hill
Written by
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Jenny Lucas-Hill is a writer, content creator and communications professional. A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, she has three full Iron-distance finishes to date & also loves watching the sport.

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