Triathlon Race Distances

Triathlon's were traditionally, long distance endurance events with the Hawaiin Ironman being one of the earliest versions of the sport only 4 years after the concept of a 3 stage swim-bike-run was conceived in the 1970's. Today however, there is a wide range of distance options.
Created: March 2011
Revised: November 2012
Latest Feedback: November 2012

Ironman Distance

The most recognised triathlon event in the world is the Ironman distance. It also comes with it's own branding and merchandising. Ironman is an endurance event consisting of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and a marathon 42.2km run, with a cut-off time for completion of 17 hours. The pros will finish an Ironman distance in around 8 hours.

Ironman 70.3

Ironman 70.3 events consist of a 1.9km swim, 91.1km bike ride, and a half-marathon 21.1km run. Until this year in Australia, this distance event has previously been known as the "Half Ironman", as these distances are half that of the Ironman event.

A 70.3 is still an endurance event however the distance is considered generally attainable within a season of training and with a program of 2 swims, 2 rides and 2 runs per week, making it possible for the general athlete to fit in training along with a full-time job, family or study commitments.

The cut off time for a 70.3 in Australia is generally 7.5 hours, although the top competitors finish in just under 4 hours.

Olympic Distance Triathlon

Although the sport of triathlon didn't feature in the Olympics until 2000 (Sydney, Australia), the Olympic Distance triathlon is now a regular feature on the race calendar for triathletes looking for a mid-distance event. An Olympic Distance triathlon consists of a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle, and 10km run. Course cut-off times are generally 4 hours, however the pros can finish in 2 hours and the average age grouper will take around 2.5 hours.

Sprint Distance Triathlon

By far the most prolific of triathlons on the Australian race calendar is the Sprint. Consisting of a 750m swim, 20km cycle, and 5km run it is both an achievable distance for a beginner triathlete to aim towards and perfect for the triathlete that wants to race every weekend, or fortnight as there is not a lot of recovery time required for a seasoned triathlete who has been conditioned to this level of exercise. Although the pros can finish the course in under 1 hour, the average age group triathlete aims to finish in under 1 hour 30mins.

Enticer, Fun, and Mini Triathlons

In acknowledgement of the growing numbers of novice triathletes wanting to try the sport, many event organisers are now hosting multiple races at the one event day, with Enticer/Fun or Mini being triathlon races of very short distances such as 200m swim, 7km ride, 2km run or even shorter events.

TRYstars, Juniors & Kids

Triathlon Australia sanctions a non-competitive program called TRYstars to introduce kids aged 7-11 to the sport of triathlon and teaches kids about multisports in a safe and friendly club environment. TRYstars programs are available from many of the tri-clubs throughout Australia. The basis of the program is skills training sessions and participation in club events and clubs will host their own TRYstars triathlons, aquathlons and duathlons. Some local clubs may also work together annual to run an interclub TRYstars triathlon.

The TRYstars program has a strict code for maximum race distances based on the child's age. Events hosted for TRYstars at an adults event are normally; 100m swim, 3km bike, 500m run.

The TRYstars program also caters for children over the age of 11, with a competitive category for the 12-15 year olds.

Most Sprint Distance triathlon events for adults will offer age group racing categories for juniors from age 12 - 16 and 16-19 with a choice of either an Enticer Distance or Sprint Distance. Due to Triathlon Australia age restrictions on distance, participants must aged 15+ to race in the Olympic Distance events.

Super Sprint Distance

Occasionally, you'll find an event given this name, usually because it doesn't fit any of the standard distances of the Sprint. Leg distances may be longer or shorter than a standard Sprint.

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Article Tags

Ironman, How Far Is A Triathlon?, What Distance Is A Triathlon?, Trystars Program, Sprint Triathlon

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