26-27 Apr 2025
Chinese Taipei

Let’s Race…Challenge Taiwan

Experience the truly authentic taste of the Far East with a fast middle and long distance races on the lesser-explored south east coast of Taiwan.
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Vicki Grimshaw

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Challenge Taiwan is Asia’s largest long distance triathlon, with entries typically selling out within a week opening! And it’s not hard to see why. Renowned for its natural beauty and fascinatingly diverse cultures, the city of Taitung – which sets the backdrop for this incredibly popular race – is the perfect setting for a race-cation.

It might be one of Taiwan’s smallest cities, situated on the south east coast. But each spring, Taitung becomes the temporary home to more than 7,000 triathletes taking on Challenge Taiwan’s middle and long distance triathlons – the latter the biggest in Asia.

And it’s worth making the trip to this hidden gem of a region with its authentic local culture, delicious food, hot springs and breathtaking coastline. It really is a race in a tropical paradise.

While the mercury may nudge 28°C / 82°F April is one of the best times of the year to visit Taitung – just don’t forget the suncream! – and thankfully, humidity is on the low side so, over the years, it’s become hugely popular.

Be part of Asia's largest long distance triathlon

Location - a far-eastern promise

A world away from all the political drama in the capital Taipei, down on the south east coast, lies the chilled, small city of Taitung surrounded by lush forest, paddy fields and stunning tropical beaches which makes it a family friendly location to explore.

As one of the last regions in the country to be developed, Taitung County has kept its authentic Taiwanese culture, especially as it is also home to six aboriginal tribes who live in townships and add to the richly diversity of the area.

The closest major international airport is KhaoHsiung in the south otherwise the capital Taipei in the north which has two airports, Songshan and TaoYuan. From Taipei is about a five hour drive, a three hour train ride or a short one hour internal flight to Taitung airport.

There is plenty of accommodation in the city from the likes of the Sheraton, the official race hotel where athletes receive discounts on food and rooms, some lovely boutique hotels, budget B&Bs and midrange guest houses like Tiin Tiin Inn.

Food-wise the place is a melting pot of eateries from local aboriginal specialities like stinky tofu and pig blood soup, which should taste better than they sound, to traditional beef noodles and even a KFC.

Challenge Taiwan itself takes place just outside the centre in the beautiful Taitung Forest Park where you’ll find the race village, including a large triathlon expo, a bike mechanic tent, the swim course and transition area making it an easy place for spectators to watch the action.

Note the split transition bag areas, something to bear in mind when packing your kit.

Why race... Challenge Taiwan

Every year, thousands of athletes rush to get their entry in for Challenge Taiwan before it sells out. So what is it about this race that has so many athletes coming back for more?

For regular finisher Cassandra Chou, it’s all about the community: “Challenge Taiwan welcomes athletes and families with a message of “Welcome Home!” and whether it’s our first time or our eleventh time back, that feeling of hospitality makes this race feel like a community coming together to celebrate triathlon.”

And for Darren Cole, “Challenge Taiwan captures something of the soul of this island, a race that leaves me with memories of Taiwan’s people and its natural beauty.”

Challenge Taiwan is a race that captures the spirit of triathlon – community, and exploring an incredible location through swimming, cycling and running. There are so many reasons to add this race to your calendar… just don’t think on it too long, entries sell out FAST!

Asia’s largest triathlon festival with over 7000 participants
Spectacularly beautiful fast and flat course along the breathtaking coastline and surrounded by lush tropical forest
Taitung is the hidden gem of Taiwan with authentic local culture, delicious food and beautiful national parks.

Course - fast, rolling & hot

The course at Challenge Taiwan is ideal for experienced racers and first timers alike. The shallow, straight lake swim offers up the perfect start to the day. While the undulating bike course keeps things interesting, but accessible for those stepping up to the longer distance racing for the first time. The flat run is packed with PB potential. Just watch out for the heat – acclimatising and focusing on hydration will be key!

Swim - 1.5 / 1.9 / 3.8KM

The swim takes place in Flowing Lake, a shallow man-made reservoir with calm, crystal clear water from a natural spring. Despite the heat, wetsuits are permitted up to 24°C / 75°F. After a pontoon start, its rectangular shape makes it easy to navigate towards the respective buoy for your race distance before heading back to the start to either finish or repeat your next lap. Nervous or weaker swimmers will find the course well marked and easy to sight. Then it’s a 850m run into T1.

BIke - 40 / 90 / 180KM

The bike is an undulating out-and-back course which heads north out of town over the ZhongHua Bridge the snakes along the coastline between the soaring Carp Mountains and spectacular Pacific Ocean until the U-turn. Aerobars are permitted and there’s very little traffic to worry about on the wide, smooth roads which will suit those who feel the need for speed.

Run - 10 / 21.1 / 42.2KM

The fast and flat run course takes you through the cultural heart of Taitung City and alongside the beautiful Pipa Lake Park and beside the surrounding tranquil rice fields, orchards and vibrant ocean promenade before finishing adjacent to Taitung Stadium to the beats of traditional Taiwanese drummers. Stay into the night and you’ll witness dramatic firework displays to welcome the last long course athletes home in Tie Hua Village.

Race training & prep

Taking place in the early spring, for athletes coming from cooler countries taking time to do a bit of heat prep will be key. Use your indoor training sessions to adapt to warmer temperatures, and you’ll find it far easier to acclimate once you arrive in Taiwan.

Triathlon legend Belinda Granger also highlights that “the bike is undulating so make sure in your training you find some terrain where it’s a little up and down and get used to staying down in the aero-bars for the duration. The run is flat and fast so include interval work in the build up to get those fast twitch muscle fibres working.”

Spectators - a family friendly paradise

Wherever you are on the course, you will be surrounded by natural beauty from natural springs, palm trees, lush forest in the Forest Park.

Friends and family can base themselves at the race village in the Park and watch you in action from multiple spots in the shade of a pagoda.

The swim is super easy to watch for the entire length of the course along the banks of the lake but the bike is a little harder to watch unless you have a car.

You’ll find an excellent viewpoint about 20km at Jialulan Recreation Area where you can park and watch the middle distance athletes twice and long distance four times on the out and back course.

Otherwise to while away some time, the beach is a short walk away as are several art galleries and a museum or you head out on for a hike or bike the trails through the Taitung Forest Park which is easily accessible on foot and perfect for watching the run course.

At the finish line in nearby village of Tie Hua, the Taiwanese drummers and firework displays welcoming home the athletes will be a rewarding end to the day and entertainment for all the family.

Race-cation - the true taste of Taiwan

After months of training and a hard day’s racing, Taitung is a great place to unwind and enjoy the slow pace of its natural beauty and diverse culture.

To get around, rent a scooter or car otherwise the Taiwan Tourism Shuttle Bus goes to most of the major sights in the city.

The Forest Park, nicknamed Black Forest for its huge dark beefwood trees, is worth a return visit to take a boat ride down the river or explore its many trails on foot or mountain bike.

And having cycled past the Carp Mountains, the wonderful panoramic view from up top is worth the hike or ease your aching muscles at one of the local hot springs.

Then after dark take a stroll through Taitung Night Market in front of the Sheraton Hotel for a bowl of tasty beef noodles from the street food hawkers or try your luck scooping goldfish or throwing darts at balloons on the fairground-style game stalls, although the prizes really aren’t up to much!

With six of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes in the county, you can book a guided visit to their villages during their summer festivals, where you can learn all about these ethnic peoples and their fascinating culture.

Then, if you fly in via Taipei then it’s definitely worth taking a few days before your flight home to explore this vibrant city.

Be part of Asia's largest long distance triathlon

Don't miss out on your chance to race the spectacular Challenge Taiwan - all 7,000 slots usually sell out in under a week so be poised to hit that 'enter now' button!

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