Triathlon defined

As most of you know already, the multi-sport of triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, especially with regard to females.  Triathlon simply means swim, bike and run, typically in that order.  However, there are many events that run triathlons in reverse order, back-to-back etc.  Further, many events are made up of only two of the three legs e.g. Aquathons where participants only swim and run and duathlons where participants most often run, bike and run.

In addition to the many different types of multi-sport events, there are many different distances in which triathletes compete.  Below are the most common distances for triathlon events (from short- to long- course):

  • Super Sprint Triathlons – the swim leg is typically 500 meters, the bike leg is 10 kilometers and the run is 1.5 kilometers.  This distance is great for beginners and for seasoned triathletes alike.
  • Sprint Triathlons – the swim leg is typically 750 meters, the bike leg is 20 kilometers and the run is 5 kilometers.  This distance is ideal for triathletes training for Olympic- or longer- course triathlons.
  • Olympic Triathlons (sometimes called International as well) is the officially recognized and standardized distance world-wide.  Further, this is the distance that is used for the Olympic games, hence the name.  A true Olympic distance event is a 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike ride followed by a 10 kilometer run.
  • Half Ironman Triathlon – swimmers swim 1900 meters, ride 90 kilometers on their bikes and finish with a half marathon (21.1 kilometer run).
  • Full Ironman Triathlon  – beginning with a 3,800 meter swim, followed by a 180 kilometer bike ride and finishing with an entire marathon (42.2 kilometer run).  Both half- and full- Ironman triathlons are also known as “long course” events where each leg has a certain cutoff time depending on the venue.  The full Ironman must be completed in 17 hours or less for example.
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