What is a triathlon

what is a triathlonSo what is a triathlon…  The first modern day triathlon took place in Mission Bay in 1974 and was setup by the San Diego Track and Field Club.  It was created as an alternative to athletic track training.  Today Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and it’s a sport that caters for all age groups, varied fitness levels, and from beginner try-a-tri right up to the Ironman championships.


The triathlon consists of set distances of swimming, biking, and running – one after the other.  You are timed from the second you jump into the water and set off.  Even the time it takes for you to change gear or get off your bike and start the run (transition) is included.  By design the triathlon tests your ability in multiple disciplines – swim, bike, run.

It is much more than just a simple race – what is a triathlonits a mental as well as physical endurance race.

Triathlon racing also requires you to not overdo it on any once part of the race.  There is no point in breaking a record on the bike if you have burned out your legs and can’t run after you transition.  A lot of people will use heart rate monitors and watches to keep an eye on themselves during the race.  Both for checking their times but also to make sure they are working within their limits

Most people who get into triathlon will have completed in some sort of sporting event on one of the disciplines in the past.  You may have been a good swimmer in the past, good on the bike or maybe run some short to medium races.

One thing that appeals to so many people about Triathlon races are because most of the time you are split up into age groups.  This means you can race or even complete with all of your friends which is great fun and makes it very interesting.

The primary distances for triathlon are outlined in the chart below.  There are many variations of Triathlon but we will be focusing on just the primary one man distances.


SprintSwim –  750m Ride – 20km Run –  5km
Standard, Olympic or ClassicSwim –  1500mRide – 40km Run –  10km
Half Iron DistanceSwim – between 2500 and 3800m Ride – between 80km and 120km Run – between 20km and 30km
Iron DistanceSwim – 3800m Ride – 180km Run – 42km

As highlighted earlier, each competitor has to go through a timed transition from swim to bike(T1), and then from bike to run(T2). You will set up all your gear at the transition area before you start your race.  Bikes will have to be racked at your designated area and you are allowed to keep a limited amount of race kit here as well.  Most people will lay out a small mat on the ground and put their runners etc onto this.  No bags etc are to be left in this area.  Doing so can incur a penalty or even disqualification from the race.  One point to make here is to relax and enjoy the atmosphere at the transition area pre-race.  You will see and talk to all levels of athletes from novice right up to expert so listen and learn from others while you are there.

One thing I will say is that Triathlon racing is very addictive.  Once you cross the line on your first sprint race you are hooked.  You will have already trained hard for the sprint race beforehand so should be feeling the huge benefits of your fitness levels improving anyway.  If you are considering a triathlon then I strongly advise you to go for it.  The feeling of crossing the finish line after the first race is amazing.  If you have completed in the past then keep it up and get out training for your next race.

I’ll leave you with a short inspirational video to give you a taste of Triathlon.  Enjoy!

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