Try a triathlon

Take intimidation out of the equation by registering for this women-only, beginner-friendly triathlon (above). Brush up on your strokes in the very natatorium where the race will take place, or attend a weekend clinic to learn the basics of a smooth transition from pool to bike to foot. The lineup includes a 350-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 2-mile run. Whether you sign up with a relay team or as an individual, this July 27 triathlon is an ideal way to earn your racing stripes.

Step it up a notch for this Sept. 8 sprint race in Lafayette, which bills itself as a rite of passage for all endurance fiends. The course begins with a 1/2-mile open-water swim followed by a 20-mile bike race on flat terrain interspersed with gently rolling hills. The triathlon ends with a 3.1-mile run on the level grounds of the Lafayette Regional Airport. Five hundred athletes participate each year—and most hang out afterward for the post-race party.

Challenge yourself with this Sept. 29 race, one of the only Olympic-distance events in the region. Participants start the course with an open-water swim of 1,500 meters—or just shy of one mile—in False River. A 24.9-mile bike ride follows, looping through the flat landscape of Pointe Coupee Parish. The course concludes with a 10K run through the streets of New Roads. Whether you have five or 50 triathlons under your belt, this race is one to try.

This Half Ironman triathlon, scheduled for Nov. 9, also takes place in picturesque New Roads. Athletes swim a 1.2-mile open-water course in False River, utilizing boat ramps for smooth entry and exit. The 56-mile bike route begins downtown, eventually crossing the Mississippi River via the Audubon Bridge. The 13.1-mile run is on a flat course winding through a rural setting before finishing at a historic cotton mill, where friends and family gather to greet their athletes.