What Is Triathlon?

swimbikerunTriathlons, a kind of Multi-Sport racing, consists of a swim segment, a bicycling segment, and a running segment, normally performed by a single athlete, although relays are sometimes offered at triathlon events.  Between each segment the athlete must “transition” form one sport to the next by changing gear.

Many race distances are offered, and there is no requirement for how they are combined, but the standard distances are commonly known as Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironman.

A “full” Ironman is a long race!  It starts with a 2.5 mile swim, followed by 112 miles on the bike, and a full 26.2 mile running marathon.  World class athletes do this in 8 hours.

A Half Ironman is exactly what you might think, with 1.25 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike and a half marathon run of 13.1 miles.  World class athletes do this just under 4 hours.

Olympic preserves a bit more swimming, at 1500 meters, then 40K (24.8 miles) on the bike, and a 10K run (6.2 miles).  World class athletes do this  under 1:50.  Think of the Olympic distance as 1/4 of an Ironman.

Sprint Triathlons, mostly for novices, are 800 meters swimming, a 20K bike ride, and a 5K run.  It is approximately a 1/8 Ironman.  They can be done in under an hour.

A very popular race in San Francisco is the Escape From Alcatraz, with a 1.5 miles swim, 18 miles of cycling, and an 8 miles run, including a segment on the beach and up a nasty, sandy set of stairs called the Sand Ladder.  It is so popular that the race management is upping the entry fee to $750 this year, because people will pay that much to do it.



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