Off-road events offer a great way to get into multisports for mountain bikers, trail runners, or for those with an adventurous side who don’t mind getting a little dirty.

Most off-road events in the U.S. are triathlons but off-road duathlons have started to take off in several areas of the country. Although off-road events sound like something that would take place in mountain towns, a new crop of urban off-road events, on trails that many would not know existed, are quickly gaining popularity.

Common distances for off-road events include:

• half-mile swim/8-12-mile mountain bike/3-mile trail run
• 1.5k swim/30k mountain bike/11k trail run

The XTERRA brand reaches worldwide, with the majority of their point series events taking place in the United States.  Beyond XTERRA, many event companies have started independent off-road events that are very popular with local crowds.

Off-road events have a generally more raucous feel to them while building community and encouraging friendly rivalry.  These events tend to feel “low-key” as compared to their on-road counterparts, but make no mistake; these events take safety to the highest level and encourage safe riding while blazing through on single track trails.

USA Triathlon hosts a national off-road championship each year, and the ITU hosted the first ITU World Off-Road Championship in 2008.

Getting Started
Participants can find events ranging from local, low key races to big time production events.

Interested participants should visit the USA Triathlon event calendar as well as for listings of all USAT sanctioned off-road events in the United States. 

In 1996, mountain biking and triathlon met in a duel of the fittest on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The race was called Aquaterra. It consisted of an open-ocean swim, a mountain bike race, and a trail run. It represented a bold new racing format that attracted outdoor enthusiasts, mostly mountain bikers and triathletes. The mountain bikers brought their laid-back style and bold self-assurance. The triathletes brought their hard-core training and avid dedication. They soon discovered a common spirit and attitude that pulled them together. For as different as they are, neither could resist the challenges and thrills this new multisport offered.

The thrill of running on pure adrenaline through the mountains. The chill of fresh ocean waves streaming over a swimmer's back. The awesome view mountain bikers get at the top of a dormant Hawaii volcano. These are the elements of a race called XTERRA.

As a relatively young option in the world of multisport, the off-road discipline has room to grow.  The individual sports of mountain biking and trail running have exploded in the recent years, with much of the success of those disciplines attributed to the X-Games and Adventure Racing.

USA Triathlon is committed to increasing the visibility of off-road racing through training and coaching programs, building a greater national scene and offering race directors resources to start and continue off-road events.