A triathlon is a three-part endurance racing event. A typical triathlon involves a swimming segment, a biking segment, and then a running segment, in that order. There are no breaks in a triathlon and transitions between segments of the race count against the time.

Triathlons are known for being grueling athletic events due to the intense endurance required for the race. Many triathlons take hours to complete and any time spent resting counts against the clock. Because transitions between sports also count, the changing of clothing and equipment between swimming, biking, and finally running has to be done quickly.


There Are a Variety of Different Triathlon Distances

Despite being a common sporting event, there is no standard distance required for the race to be considered a triathlon. As long as the event is three consecutive endurance races, then, it is considered a triathlon. Many individual events will have their own distances based on the course that is used for the event. It is not common for one of the events to be something other than the standard swimming, biking, and running setup, but variations do exist.

A number of different triathlon events have become popular, however, and sometimes the distances of these races are used as benchmarks by which other races are compared. In many cases, triathlon athletes work to improve their athletic performance so that they can challenge longer and harder triathlons.


Preparing for a Triathlon Is Itself a Grueling Task

Preparing for a triathlon requires a significant amount of physical training. Even the shorter distances used for amateurs are highly physically demanding. Many people spend months training even for the basic triathlons.

The best method to train for a triathlon is endurance exercise, especially doing the very kinds of exercise expected in the triathlon. Triathletes will, therefore, spend a lot of time running, biking, and swimming in order to maximize their physical endurance.


What Do I Need for a Triathlon?

Athletes also obviously need to ensure that they have appropriate gear for the event. Individual competitors will be tasked with bringing their own swimming, biking, and running gear. Participants will need a bicycle, helmet, swimsuit, cycling clothing, running shoes, and many more items to be successful in the race.

Many triathlon events have entry fees, which help pay for the costs of holding the event.


Sprint Triathlons

Sprint triathlons are the most common type of triathlon. A sprint triathlon involves 750 meters of swimming, 20 kilometers of biking, and 5 kilometers of running. This is half the distance of the Olympic Triathlon.

Because the sprint triathlon is so short, it is a commonly held race. Most people who are interested in triathlons should be able to find a sprint triathlon that is local to them.

However, while the sprint triathlon is considered short, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is still a grueling event and amateur triathletes should make sure they are prepared before taking such a challenge.

While many triathlon events may segregate based on sex, age, or whether an athlete is an expert or amateur triathlete, shorter triathlons are more likely to be free-for-alls where everyone participates in the same race. Therefore athletes may find sprint triathlons that are a single event with a variety of individuals of varying ages, backgrounds, and athletic abilities.

There is a variation on the sprint triathlon called the super sprint triathlon. This triathlon is even shorter than the standard sprint triathlon. The swimming section is reduced to 400 meters and the biking and running segments are halved to 10 and 2.5 kilometers, respectively. This makes for a much easier race for beginners and first-timers.


The Olympic Triathlon Is Used for the International Games

The triathlon was added to the roster of sports for the Summer Olympics in 2000 at the Sydney, Australia games. This triathlon distance is twice that of the standard sprint distance. Participants swim for 1.5 kilometers, bike for 40 kilometers, and run for 10 kilometers.

Two separate events are held in the Olympic version of the triathlon, one for men and one for women.


The Ironman Triathlon Is One of the Hardest Athletic Events Ever

The Ironman Triathlon is a long distance race that is organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. Ironman is widely regarded as one of the most difficult athletic events in the world. Ironman’s length is 3.9 kilometers of swimming, 181 kilometers of biking, and 44.2 kilometers of running.

Founded in 1978, the event takes place every year in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Starting a 7 AM, the event has a 17-hour time limit, ending at midnight. Each of the individual legs of the event has their own cutoff point as well. The triathletes have two hours and 20 minutes to finish the swimming portion, or until 9:20 AM. They have another eight hours and 10 minutes, or until 5:30 PM, to finish the biking portion. They then have six hours and 30 minutes to complete the running portion.

The current record for completion time is held by Patrick Lange, who finished the race in eight hours, one minute, and 40 seconds.

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