From cycling races to marathons, surfing to triathlons, Taiwan is increasingly attracting athletes looking to test their strength, endurance, and stamina amidst some of Asia’s most spectacular scenery.
Taiwan Scene looks at eight unique annual challenges that put Taiwan on the sporting map.
1.King of the Mountain
Taiwan’s King of the Mountain (KOM) race has become a legend to saddle masochists and mountain goats alike. King of the Mountain starts at sea level and climbs through Taroko Gorge, reaching the peak of Hehuan Mountain 3,275 grueling meters later. The race offers competitors chances to test their mettle throughout, particularly during a brutal and lung-busting climb towards the end that drives even experienced cyclists to push their bikes. Just attempting this ride is a permanent feather in the cap of any serious cyclist, and as a bonus, riding the KOM is the only chance most will ever get to ride through Taroko Gorge without getting stuck behind tourist-filled tour buses. (Read more: Sky High-Climbing Up to the Roof of Taiwan: A Wushe to Mt. Hehuan Excursion)
2.Taroko Gorge Marathon
For those who want the challenge and scenery without the saddle, we present the annual Taroko Gorge Marathon. Running roughly the first third of the KOM, the full 43 K Marathon starts by the entranceway to Taroko National Park and climbs past some of the most beautiful scenery in Taroko Gorge along the Central Cross-island highway, reaching the village of Tienshang (天祥，an altitude of 500 meters) before turning back down towards the National Park Headquarters & Visitor Center. There are less grueling events as well, ranging from the 22 KM Half Marathon, the 12 KM Leisure run and the 5KM happy Marathon. All start and end from the same spot, and all take place in December. 2018’s Taroko Marathon will be held on December first, so there’s still time to register. (Read more: Ways to Explore Taroko Gorge)
3.Tour de Taiwan
Cyclists looking to see even more of Taiwan from the saddle will want to take part in the aptly-named Tour de Taiwan. (Read more: Eight Unforgettable Taiwan Cycling Routes) Perhaps the most established bicycle race in Taiwan, the TdT is a multi-stage race drawing the creme-de-la-creme of the cycling circuit and sports journalists (as well as government tourism officials hoping the latter group files a few stories about the magnificent scenery through which the cyclists pass). Started in 1978 and recognized by the International Cycling Union in 2005, the TdT offers participants the chance to win glory, prestige, and serious prize money while also keeping Taiwan firmly on the global cycling map. Cycle along Taiwan’s most scenic roads by joining the Eastern Taiwan Cycling Tour.
Purists who find scenic beauty a distraction to their running can take part in the Taipei Marathon. Held just a week after the Taroko Marathon (on December 9 in 2018), the Taipei Marathon eschews the natural scenery of the Taroko Marathon for a 42km loop through the urban landscape of Taipei city. Like the Taroko Marathon, the Taipei Marathon also offers a half marathon of 22KM. Both start and end at Taipei City Hall. (Read more: 6 things to do in Taipei that should be on every visitor’s bucket list)
5.Taipei 101 Run Up
“Ah,” we hear you saying…”Love the cardiovascular challenge, and super into seeing the best of Taipei city. But isn’t there a way I could get all that without having to move in a horizontal line?” The answer, of course, is yes. The infamous Taipei 101 Run Up gives participants a chance to compete in a vertical race up the normally off-limit staircase of Taipei 101, all the way from the ground floor to the finish line on the observation deck on the 91st floor. (Read more: Running Up 101: The Ultimate Taipei Experience) Though there are many tower races in the world, this one is considered among the most challenging thanks to the number of stairs (2,046) and the elevation involved (390 meters). But oh, is the view at the end ever worth it! 2019’s event will take place in May, with the exact date TBD. Learn more about what Taipei has to offer by joining the Ultimate Taipei Day Tour.
6.Challenge Taiwan Triathalon
But what about athletes looking to challenge themselves with a trifecta of sports in a single event? Challenge Taiwan’s Taitung Triathalon allows folks looking for a serious challenge to find it in one of Taiwan’s most beautiful settings. (Read more: Six Spots in Taitung Worth Visiting) The Triathalon contains the usual triple challenge of running, swimming and cycling, with the 2019 event offering three levels of competition, including Full Distance (3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42km running), Half Distance (a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21km run) and Olympic Distance (1.5km, 40km and 10km). This 2019 event is scheduled to take place in April.
This year, Taiwan is honored to hold the Challenge Asia Pacific on November 18th, 2018, and if you’re reading this in 2018, it isn’t too late to sign up for the event. Furthermore, MyTaiwanTour partnered with Challenge Asia Pacific 2018, and will take you to travel back to Taipei after the triathlon game. Prepare yourselves for the chilling and unforgettable trip on Taiwan’s magnificent eastern coast by joining the MyChallengeTaiwanTour 2018 (Taitung Departure).
7.Sun Moon Lake Swimming Carnival
The Sun Moon Lake swimming carnival is another once a year only event, as Taiwan’s largest freshwater lake (and most beautiful scenic attraction, according to some) is open for swimming but one day a year. (Read more: The Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area – An Experience Wholly Different Every Few Hours) The event (which began in 1983) attracts casual and competition swimmers from Taiwan and abroad to participate in a 3000-meter swimming competition, with eligibility open to anyone over ten years old in good health and able to swim long distances. (Enjoy a brief cruise on the lake’s crystal blue waters by joining MyTaiwanTour’s Sun Moon Lake One Day Leisure Tour)
8.Taiwan Open of Surfing
If a single day in the water won’t do it for you, there’s always the Tawan Open of Surfing, a two-week-long festival of sun and surf in Tawan’s beautiful Taitung county. The festival brings the creme-de-la-creme of Asia’s surfing scene together to challenge the waves of Taiwan’s southeastern flank. 2018’s Taiwan Open Of Surfing will happen from November 26 to December 9. Click here for more details.