A while back our man from Temple, Bryan, had the opportunity to travel to Taitung, Taiwan, to check out the Challenge Taiwan triathlon race this past May, held at the popular holiday destination city of Taitung. We were invited by our friends at Hollow Rock Gear, makers of multi-discipline fitness apparel to share a booth at the Challenge expo. If you are into crossfit or just general fitness check out their clothing line at https://hollowrockgear.com. Over to Bryan for a quick summary of Taitung and the event.
I had been to Taiwan many times before but this would be my first time to Taitung. I’d heard a lot of good things from both locals and expats so I was looking forward seeing the city and checking out the Challenge triathlon.
View from hotel. Just a short ride to the ocean.
Taitung is an old city that time has left to its own devices. When you land in Taitung you can immediately notice time slowing down as you adjust to the local pace of life. The absence of tall buildings and the multitude of low-rise shop houses makes Taitung feel more like a town than a city, but in a good way. I had a wonderful time exploring Taitung in the days leading up to the event. For anyone considering participating in Challenge Taitung next year this is definitely an event where you can enjoy exploring the host city as much as the event.
Sun, surf, and wide-open roads.
During the days I went for long bike rides exploring the massive Taitung Forest Park, trekking along the coast, and exploring the city.
Beautiful Huoshui lake for the swim leg
One cool thing I did was the day before the triathlon I biked to the lake where the swim leg would take place. Despite the no swimming signs and the guards telling me not to swim I snuck off to the far end of the lake and was able to get in a good 2.5k swim before the guards kicked me out. Total rebel, I know.
Emerald waters of Huoshui Lake, stunning.
In the city center are a few coffee shops to pass the time, and a good mix of local restaurants make finding good eats easy. At night the city really comes alive as the night market gets into full swing and the ABG’s of Taitung come out to socialize.
The city center lights up at night. Time to go exploring.
If you like exploring for culinary treats Taitung is awesome at night because all sorts of street side vendors pop up here and there. It’s your job to go out exploring and find them!
Lantern display at night in Tiehua Park.
So enough about Taitung, how was the Challenge triathlon you ask?
Temple Project fans at the outdoor expo.
If you are the type of competitor that enjoys getting their shop on at event expos then the Challenge Taitung expo will have plenty to keep your wallet singing. The expo took place over 3 days; the first day was an indoor expo at the host hotel, and the second and third day was at an outdoor expo by the finish line. Maybe it’s because Taiwan is the center of the bike industry that the expo had a great variety of clothing, tools, accessories, and nutrition products. At the outdoor expo they also had many food stalls selling different types of grilled, fried, and baked Taiwanese snacks.
As for the actual event Challenge Taiwan holds the races over 2 days with the full and half distance races on Saturday, and the Olympic distance and junior (ages 8-16) races on Sunday. Additionally, they have relay options for the full, half, and Olympic distance options. By spacing the short and long course races over a period of two days the organizers did a great job of building and sustaining a weekend long atmosphere of fun and competition. It was really different to all of the previous races I’ve done where the feeling is like your there to race and race only, and after the race is done the vibe kind of dies out quickly.
By having the long course races on Saturday a lot of dad’s (and some mom’s) were out on the course with mom and the kids cheering them on. On Sunday it was mom and the kids’ turn to race the short course distances, so on both days you really felt like it was a family event where everybody had something to look forward to. In terms of event organization, the organizers ran the event like clockwork, the water stations were fully stocked with nutrition and refreshment, and enthusiastic volunteers were ready to assist and support competitors. Combined with the awesome setting of Taitung I would say that Challenge Taiwan is a unique triathlon experience definitely worth trying. I myself will be signing up for 2017. Should I try to arrange a group package?
If you would like to learn more about this year’s Challenge Taiwan event you can check out the official website here Challenge Taiwan.