Triathlon

A triathlon is a multisport race with three continuous and sequential endurance races.[1] The word is of Greek origin, from τρεῖς or treis (three) and ἆθλος or athlos (competition).[2]

While variations of the sport exist, the most common form includes swimming, cycling, and running over various distances. Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion, including timed transitions between the three races.[1]

A transition area is set up where the athletes change gear for different segments of the race. This is where the switches from swimming to cycling and cycling to running occur. These areas are used to store bicycles, performance apparel, and any other accessories needed for the next stage of the race. The transition from swim to bike is referred to as T1 and that between the bike and run is referred to as T2. The athlete's overall time for the race includes time spent in T1 and T2.[3] Transition areas vary in size depending on the number of participants expected. In addition, these areas provide a social headquarters before the race.[4]

The nature of the sport focuses on persistent and often periodized training in each of the three disciplines, as well as combination workouts and general strength conditioning.[5]

Triathlon
Tri swim bike run
The three typical components of triathlon: swimming, cycling, and running.
Highest governing bodyInternational Triathlon Union
First played1920s
Characteristics
ContactNo
Mixed genderYes, separate competitions & mixed relays
TypeEndurance sport
Presence
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicYes, since 2000
ParalympicYes, Paratriathlon since 2016
World Games1989 (invitational) – 1993

History

18-6-22 course des trois sports
1922 Course des trois sports

The evolution of triathlon as a distinct event is difficult to trace with precision. Many, including triathlon historian and author Scott Tinley, consider events in early twentieth century France to be the beginnings of triathlon, with many three element multisport events of differing composition appearing all called by different names.[6][7] The earliest record for an event was from 1901 in Joinville-le-Pont, Val-de-Marne it called itself "Les trois sports" (The three sports) it was advertised as an event for "The sportsmen of the time" and consisted of a run bicycle and canoe segment.[8] By 19 June 1921 the event in Joinville-le-Pont had become more like a standard triathlon with the canoe element being replaced with a swim, newspaper L’Auto stating the race consisted of a 3km run, a 12km bike ride and the crossing of the river Marne, all staged consecutively and without a break.[8][9][10] Throughout the 1920s other bike, run, and swim events had appeared in different cities such as the "Course des Trois Sports” in Marseilles.[11] And "La Course des Débrouillards" in Poissy.[8] [10] These multisport events would continue to slowly spread and grow in popularity such by 1934 "Les Trois Sports" was being hosted in the city of La Rochelle though it consisted three distinct events, swimming a channel crossing (200m),a bike competition around the harbour of La Rochelle and the parc Laleu(10km), and a run in the stadium André-Barbeau(1.2km).[12]  Throughout this growth with new events appearing no unified rules ever existed and as a whole would remain a minority event on the world stage.  

Modern beginnings

The first modern swim/bike/run event was held at Mission Bay, San Diego, California on September 25, 1974.[13] The race was conceived and directed by two members of the San Diego Track Club, Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan.[14] Johnstone recalls that he was a part of the 70s jogging craze in America and that after entering a few races he was not regaining his "mediocre fitness" despite having being a member of the 1957 Collegiate and AAU All-American swim teams.[15] Then in 1973, Johnstone learned of the Dave Pain Birthday Biathlon[note 1], a 4.5 mile run followed by what was billed as a quarter-mile swim (the actual distance was between 200 and 300 yards). The following year after competing in the event for the second time and placing in the top ten Johnstone desired more of this style of race and with equal emphasis on the swim, so he petitioned the chairman of the San Diego Track Club who told him he would add a race to the club calendar but the rest of the race was up to Johnstone to organise and at the same time to contact Don Shanahan so there wouldn't be too many "weird" races on the club schedule. Shanahan told Johnstone that he wanted to include a biking leg to the race, whilst hesitant Johnstone agreed to the addition. When naming the event the pair used the unofficially agreed naming system for multisport event (already used for pentathlon, heptathlon, and decathlon), of using the prefix Greek number for the number of events trias (three) and suffix of athlos the Greek for a competition, hence named the event the Mission Bay Triathlon.[16] It is worthy of note that neither founder had heard of the French events, both believing their race a unique idea.[17]

On Wednesday, September 25, 1974 the race started, it began with a run of a three-mile loop, then biking twice around Fiesta Island for a total of five miles entrants would then get off the bikes, take their shoes off and run into the water swimming to the mainland, then ran in bare feet before swimming again along the bay, then did one last swim up to the entrance of Fiesta Island before crawling up a steep dirt bank to finish.[18] Most participants were not skilled swimmers, so Johnstone recruited his 13-year-old son to float on his surfboard and act as lifeguard.[15][18]Also some participants took longer than expected, and it began to get dark as they finished their swims. Shanahan recalls they pulled up a few cars and turned on the headlights so the athletes could see.[19]The large number of entrants 46 surprised Johnstone and Shanahan with entrants mainly from local running clubs, two notable entrants Judy and John Collins, would four years later found the event which brought international attention to the new sport Ironman Hawaii.[15]

European migration

With the sport's popularity growing in the US its spread outside the country seemed inevitable, by 1980 triathlon had made its way across the Atlantic to northern Europe with the first European triathlon held on 30th August, 1980 in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. The Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany follow after, all hosting an event in 1981, but the media coverage of these events is almost non-existent. [20]

Then in 1982, the event organiser IMG, worked in partnership with the American channel CBS (direct competitor of ABC who held the exclusive rights to Hawaii), to create a new event that would take place in Europe. The initial aim was to establish a new premier competition, the European Triathlon, with the goal of being of the same size and prestige to directly compete with that of Hawaii.[21] Originally the event was to be hosted in Monaco, but with the death of Princess Grace in September of 1982 the previous agreements fell through; however, IMG refused to cancel the event so it was reorganised to be hosted in Nice, France. The first Nice Triathlon was held on 20 November 1982 where fifty seven competitors took the start, for an ill-defined competition that consisted of 1,500 meters of swimming, 100 kilometres of cycling and a marathon.[22] In December of that year the national television station France 2 broadcast a program, Voyage au bout de la souffrance (Journey to the End of Suffering) which detailed the events of the Nice Triathlon. This program shocked many that watched and was the introduction of the sport to the general public.[21] Some fans of traditional sports strongly criticised this new practice as seven of the entrants were hospitalised due to the swim, as the temperature of the Mediterranean was only 14°C.[21] Despite this criticism IMG's plan succeeded and throughout the 1980s. The Nice triathlon was, alongside Hawaii, one of the two important Long Distance races each year for both prize money and media attention.

The year 1985 saw the creation of the first international triathlon structure, the European Triathlon Union (ETU) with the objectives to federate the triathlon structures in each European country and to act as a counterbalance to American triathlon in the creation of a future worldwide federation.[23] The following year, the eleven nations that composed the ETU met in Brussels to standardise the national structures of each European country. During this time France dominated discussions, as it was the only federation recognised by its own National Olympic Committee. With the legitimacy from CONADET, forerunner of the French Triathlon Federation (FFTri), which has been organising triathlon in France since 1984 the French system became standard all over Europe.[23]

A global federation

The first attempt to create a global triathlon entity was the Triathlon Federation International (TFI), it had only 22 members most of which were national European federations. But immediately fights of influences broke out between the European and UK-American federations over many issues, particularly in view of a favourable vote system for the ETU, this causes immediate fracturing and the TFI never fully establish itself.[23]

Around the same time, Canadian Les McDonald held talks with Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee. Samaranch had already declared his intention to add triathlon to the Olympic games as fast as possible, and assured that triathlon could appear as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona but only under the auspices of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon and Biathlon (UIPMB).[24] [25] Many within the triathlon community were unhappy with the arrangement wishing for their own federation not to be held as part of UIPMB. Unable to accept the offer, Samaranch established an Olympic working committee for triathlon in an effort to form a consensus on an Olympic route for the sport. McDonald was selected as President of the committee, while Sweden's Sture Jonasson was elected as Secretary.[25]

Then in February 1989, an informal meeting was held in Vancouver, Canada where members of the working committee worked nonstop for a week on the statutes and regulations of the future International Triathlon Union (ITU). Then on 1 April 1989, 30 National Federations attended the first ITU Congress in Avignon, France. After further discussions on the way forward to reach the Olympics, including the refusal to follow the path of the UIPMB and how triathlon should develop both economically and as a sport, the Congress endorses the creation of the International Triathlon Union and elects its first executive committee. McDonald was elected President. The city of Avignon is also give the honour of hosting the first World Championship.[26]

In 1991, the IOC recognized the ITU as the sole governing body for the sport of triathlon at its 97th session in Birmingham, UK.[27] In 1993 the Pan American Games approved triathlon for competition at the 1995 Pan Am Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Then in September of 1994, triathlon was added to the Olympic program as a medal earning sport at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.[27]

Organisations

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in 1989 as the international governing body of the sport, with the chief goal, at that time, of putting triathlon on the Olympic program.[28] The ITU sanctions and organises the World Triathlon Series and World Cup races each year, with annual world champions crowned each year for elite pro-triathletes, junior pro-triathletes, and age-group athletes. ITU races are conducted in a draft legal format for the bike leg, whereas drafting is not permitted at the amateur level. In addition, the ITU has a Long Distance Triathlon series.

The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is a private company that sanctions and organises the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races each year. These races serve as qualifying events for their own annual World Championships. The Ironman World Championship is held annually in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October while the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is held in September and changes location each year. The "Ironman" and "Iron" brands are property of the WTC. Therefore, long-distance multi-sport events organized by groups other than the WTC may not officially be called "Ironman" or "Iron" races.[29] For its part, the ITU does not sanction WTC races;[30] however, USAT uses a combination of ITU and WTC rules to sanction WTC's branded events.[31]

Many other organisations exist from local clubs hosting one 100 entrant race a year up to companies like the Challenge Family brand produces long-distance events around the world, and includes events like Challenge Roth.[32] International Ultra-Triathlon Association (IUTA) is the official governing body of Ultratriathlon, which involves triathlon in distances longer than an iron-distance race.[33]

The symbol for triathlon in the Olympics

Conflict

Two major rule making bodies, the ITU and WTC, had an overlap of rules and authority, an issue which began to create conflict in the 2000s.[34] This culminated in 2005 when the ITU and USAT asked all national triathlon federations to refuse to continue sanctioning any WTC events.[35] The reasons for this stemmed from WTC not recognising the ITU as the sport's governing body as WTC was attempting to set up their own federation. Furthermore, ITU and USAT argued against supporting WTC because they were a profit driven organisation, that it was directly conflicting with ITU titles, such as the long and standard distance world championship, and that the WTC was not following World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules. If ITU member nations did not not comply with International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter rules they risked being excluded from the Olympic program.[36] However, in 2006, the ITU backed down on its stance allowing national federations to once again sanction WTC events. This was due to an out of court settlement days before a lawsuit at the court for the arbitration of sports.[37] This settlement had a large effect on WTC races including WADA membership for the WTC and out of competition testing for elite athletes.

Since 2008, coinciding with leadership changes at both the ITU and WTC, the two organisations have been slowly working together. Efforts in 2012[38] and 2014[39] resulted in the announcement that Ironman would standardise the rule set for its 2015 races, and would start the unification toward ITU rules on long distance racing with specific interest on the drafting and penalty rules.[40][41]

In 2017 the ITU and WTC signed a memorandum of understanding in which the two organisations stated they will:[42]

  • Harmonise anti-doping efforts
  • Fully establish the ITU as the singular international federation for triathlon
  • Develop a unified athlete focused rule set for specific distance categories
  • Align efforts to foster the growth and development of the sport

Race formats

Name Swim Bicycle Run Notes
Kids of Steel 100–750 m
(110–820 yd)
5–15 km
(3.1–9.3 mi)
1–5 km
(0.62–3.11 mi)
Distances vary with age of athlete. See: Ironkids
Novice (Australia) 300 m
(330 yd)
8 km
(5.0 mi)
2 km
(1.2 mi)
Standard novice distance course in Australia (often called enticer triathlons).
3–9–3 (New Zealand) 300 m
(330 yd)
9 km
(5.6 mi)
3 km
(1.9 mi)
Standard novice distance course in New Zealand.
Super Sprint 400 m
(0.25 mi)
10 km
(6.2 mi)
2.5 km
(1.6 mi)
Standard Super Sprint course.
Novice (Europe) 400 m
(0.25 mi)
20 km
(12 mi)
5 km
(3.1 mi)
Standard novice/fitness distance course in Europe.
Sprint 750 m
(0.47 mi)
20 km
(12 mi)
5 km
(3.1 mi)
Half the Olympic distance. For pool-based races, a 400 or 500 m (1,300 or 1,600 ft) swim is common.
Olympic 1.5 km
(0.93 mi)
40 km
(25 mi)
10 km
(6.2 mi)
Also known as "international distance", "standard course", or "short course".
Triathlon 70.3 1.9 km
(1.2 mi)
90 km
(56 mi)
21.1 km
(13.1 mi)
Also known as "middle distance", "70.3" (total miles traveled), or "half-ironman".
ITU-Long Distance (O2) 3.0 km
(1.9 mi)
80 km
(50 mi)
20 km
(12 mi)
Double Olympic Distance[43] distance of the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships 2007 and 2009.
Triathlon 140.6 3.9 km
(2.4 mi)
181 km
(112 mi)
42.2 km
(26.2 mi)
Also known as "long distance", "full distance", "140.6" (total miles traveled), or "Ironman Triathlon".[44]
ITU-Long Distance (O3) 4.0 km
(2.5 mi)
120 km
(75 mi)
30 km
(19 mi)
So-called triple Olympic Distance,[43] distance of the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships most years including 2011.
Source:[45][46]

Triathlons longer than full distance are classed as Ultra-triathlons.

Triathlons are not necessarily restricted to these prescribed distances. Distances can be any combination of distance set by race organizers to meet various distance constraints or to attract a certain type of athlete.

The standard Olympic distance of 1.5/40/10 km (0.93/24.8/6.2 miles) was created by longtime triathlon race director Jim Curl in the mid-1980s, after he and partner Carl Thomas produced the U.S. Triathlon Series (USTS) between 1982 and 1997.[47]

In addition to the above distances, two new long distance events have appeared, the 111 and 222 events. The 111 distance is 1 km (0.62 mi) swimming, 100 km (62 mi) bicycling and 10 km (6.2 mi) running, totalling 111 km (69 mi). The 222 distance is double that.[48]

Most triathlons are individual events. Another format is relay triathlons, where a team of competitors take turns to compete at a race; each competitor must do a segment of swimming, cycling and running. The ITU Team Triathlon World Championships began with two separate classifications for men and women. In 2009, it adopted a 4x4 mixed relay format, where each team has two men and two women. The Youth Olympic Games also has a 4x mixed relay triathlon event.

The ITU accepts a 5% margin of error in the cycle and run course distances.[49] Though there can be some variation in race distances, particularly among short triathlons, most triathlons conform to one of those above standards.

Race organization

In general, participation in a triathlon requires an athlete to register and sign up in advance of the actual race. After registration, racers are often provided a race number, colored swim cap, and, if the event is being electronically timed, a timing band. Athletes will either be provided or briefed on details of the course, rules, and any problems to look out for (road conditions, closures, traffic lights, aid stations).[50] At a major event, such as an Ironman or a long course championship, triathletes may be required to set up and check-in their bike in the transition area a day or two before the race start, leaving it overnight and under guard.[51]

On the day of the race, before the start of competition, athletes will generally be provided with a bike rack to hold their bicycle and a small section of ground space for shoes, clothing, etc. in the transition area. In some triathlons, there are two transition areas, one for the swim/bike change, then one for the bike/run change at a different location.[52]

Speedsuit
Competition and pressure for faster times have led to the development of specialized triathlon clothing that is adequate for both swimming and cycling, such as speedsuits.
Parvati Shallow
Reality TV's "Survivor" winner, Parvati Shallow, dressed to compete in the 2008 Nautica Triathlon Malibu Individual Open for females.

Racers are generally categorized into separate professional and amateur categories. Amateurs, who make up the large majority of triathletes, are often referred to as "age groupers" since they are typically further classified by sex and age; which offers the opportunity to compete against others of one's own gender and age group. The age groups are defined in five- or ten-year intervals.[52] There is typically a lower age limit; which can vary from race to race. In some triathlons, heavier amateur athletes may have the option to compete against others closer to their own weight since weight is often considered an impediment to speed. As an example, under USA Triathlon rules, "Clydesdale" athletes are those men over 220 lb (100 kg), while "Athena" athletes are women over 165 lb (75 kg).[53] Other races and organizations can choose whether or not to offer Clydesdale- and Athena-type divisions and set their own weight standards.

Depending on the type and size of the race, there may be any of the following methods implemented to start the race. In a mass start, all athletes enter the water and begin the competition following a single start signal. In wave start events, smaller groups of athletes begin the race every few minutes. An athlete's wave is usually determined either by age group or by predicted swim time. Wave starts are more common in shorter races where a large number of amateur athletes are competing.[54] Another option is individual time trial starts, where athletes enter the water one at a time, a few seconds apart.[55]

The swim leg usually proceeds around a series of marked buoys before athletes exit the water near the transition area. Racers exit out of the water, enter the transition area, and change from their swim gear and into their cycling gear. Competition and pressure for faster times have led to the development of specialized triathlon clothing that is adequate for both swimming and cycling, allowing many racers to have a transition that consists of only removing their wetsuit, cap, and goggles and pulling on a helmet and cycling shoes. In some cases, racers leave their cycling shoes attached to their bicycle pedals and slip their feet into them while riding. Some triathletes don't wear socks, decreasing their time spent in transition even more.

The cycling stage proceeds around a marked course, typically on public roads. In many cases, especially smaller triathlons, roads are not closed to automobiles; however, traffic coordinators are often present to help control traffic. Typically, the cycling stage finishes back at the same transition area. Racers enter the transition area, rack their bicycles, and quickly change into running shoes before heading out for the final stage. The running stage usually ends at a separate finish line near the transition area.

In most races, "aid stations" located on the bike and run courses provide water and energy drinks to the athletes as they pass by. Aid stations at longer events may often provide various types of food as well, including such items as energy bars, energy gels, fruit, cookies, soup, and ice.

Once the triathletes have completed the event, there is typically another aid station for them to get water, fruit, and other post-race refreshments. Occasionally, at the end of larger or longer events, the provided amenities and post-race celebrations may be more elaborate.

Rules of triathlon

While specific rules for triathlon can vary depending on the governing body (e.g. USA Triathlon, ITU), as well as for an individual race venue, there are some basic universal rules. Traditionally, triathlon is an individual sport and each athlete is competing against the course and the clock for the best time. As such, athletes are not allowed to receive assistance from anyone else outside the race, with the exception of race-sanctioned aid volunteers who distribute food and water on the course.[56][57]

TriathlonHamburg
Transition area (bicycles) of Hamburg Triathlon, 2002

Triathlons are timed in five sequential sections:

  1. from the start of the swim to the beginning of the first transition (swim time);
  2. from the beginning of the first transition to the end of the first transition (T1 time);
  3. from the start of the cycling to the end of the cycling leg (cycling time);
  4. from the beginning of the second transition to the end of the second transition (T2 time);
  5. finally from the start of the run to the end of the run, at which time the triathlon is completed.[57]

Results are usually posted on official websites and will show for each triathlete his/her swim time; cycle time (with transitions included); run time; and total time. Some races also post transition times separately.

Other rules of triathlon vary from race to race and generally involve descriptions of allowable equipment (for example, wetsuits are allowed in USAT events in the swimming stage of some races when the water temperature is below 78.1 °F [25.6 °C]),[53] and prohibitions against interference between athletes.[57] Additionally, the use of flippers or other swim propulsion and flotation aids are illegal in triathlon and can result in disqualification.[53]

One rule involving the cycle leg is that the competitor's helmet must be donned before the competitor mounts (or even takes possession of, in certain jurisdictions[58]) the bike and must remain on until the competitor has dismounted; the competitor is not required to wear the helmet when not on the bicycle (e.g. while repairing a mechanical problem). Failure to comply with this rule will result in disqualification.[53][57] Additionally, while on the bike course, all bicycles shall be propelled only by human force and human power. Other than pushing a bicycle, any propulsive action brought on by use of the hands is prohibited. Should a competitor's bike malfunction they can proceed with the race as long as they are doing so with their bicycle in tow.[53] There are also strict rules regarding the 'bike mount' line. Competitors may not begin riding their bicycle out of transition until they are over a clearly marked line. Mounting the bike prior to this may incur a penalty (example: a 15-second time penalty at the London 2012 Olympics was awarded to Jonathan Brownlee, a competitor from Great Britain, for mounting his bike too early.)[57][59]

Other time penalties can be incurred during the race for, among other things, drafting on the bike in a non-drafting race, improper passing, littering on course, and unsportsmanlike conduct.[53][60]

Triathlon and fitness

Triathlon swim montage
Triathletes competing in the swim component of race. Wetsuits are common but not universal

Participants in triathlon often use the sport to improve or maintain their physical fitness.[61][62] With each sport being an endurance event, training for a triathlon provides cardiovascular exercise benefits.[63] Additionally, triathletes encounter fewer injuries than those who only use running as part of their exercise routine due to the incorporation of low impact swim and bike training.[64]

Triathletes spend many hours training for competitions, like other endurance event participants.[65] There are three components that have been researched to improve endurance sports performance; aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and economy.[66] Injuries that are incurred from long hours of a single activity are not as common in triathlon as they are in single sport events. The cross-training effect that athletes achieve from training for one sport by doing a second activity applies to triathlon training.[64] Additional activities that triathletes perform for cross-training benefits are yoga, pilates, and weight training.[67]

Swimming

Triathletes will often use their legs less vigorously and more carefully than other swimmers, conserving their leg muscles for the cycle and run to follow. Many triathletes use altered swim strokes to compensate for turbulent, aerated water and to conserve energy for a long swim. In addition, the majority of triathlons involve open-water (outdoor) swim stages, rather than pools with lane markers. As a result, triathletes in the swim stage must jockey for position, and can gain some advantage by drafting, following a competitor closely to swim in their slipstream. Triathletes will often use "dolphin kicking" and diving to make headway against waves, and body surfing to use a wave's energy for a bit of speed at the end of the swim stage. Also, open-water swims necessitate "sighting": raising the head to look for landmarks or buoys that mark the course. A modified stroke allows the triathlete to lift the head above water to sight without interrupting the swim or wasting energy.

Because open water swim areas are often cold and because wearing a wetsuit provides a competitive advantage, specialized triathlon wetsuits have been developed in a variety of styles to match the conditions of the water. For example, wetsuits that are sleeveless and cut above the knee are designed for warmer waters, while still providing buoyancy. Wetsuits are legal in sanctioned events at which the surface water temperature is 78 °F (26 °C) or less.[53] In non-sanctioned events or in "age group" classes where most racers are simply participating for the enjoyment of the sport instead of vying for official triathlon placing, wetsuits can often be used at other temperatures. Race directors will sometimes discourage or ban wetsuits if the water temperature is above 84 °F (29 °C) due to overheating that can occur while wearing a wetsuit.[68] Other rules have been implemented by race organizers regarding both wetsuit thickness as well as the use of "swim skins;" which need to be considered by those participating in future triathlons. Some triathlon sanctioning bodies have placed limits on the thickness of the wetsuit material. Under ITU and some national governing bodies' rules no wetsuit may have a thickness of more than 5 mm (0.20 in).[69]

Cycling

Triathlete on bike
Triathlete in the cycling portion of the event

Triathlon cycling can differ from most professional bicycle racing depending on whether drafting is allowed during competition. In some competitions, like those governed by USA Triathlon and the World Triathlon Corporation, drafting is not allowed,[53] and thus the cycling portion more closely resembles individual time trial racing. In other races, such as those in World Cup and Championship racing, drafting and the formation of pelotons are legal.[1][57] This places an emphasis on running performance as several athletes will enter the bike to run transition at the same time due to drafting.[70]

Triathlon bicycles are generally optimized for aerodynamics, having special handlebars called aero-bars or tri-bars, aerodynamic wheels, and other components. Triathlon bikes use a specialized geometry, including a steep seat-tube angle both to improve aerodynamics and to spare muscle groups needed for running (see also triathlon equipment). At the end of the bike segment, triathletes also often cycle with a higher cadence (revolutions per minute), which serves in part to keep the muscles loose and flexible for running.

Running

WheelChairBoiseTriathalon70point3
An athlete competes in a wheelchair amongst runners at Ironman 70.3 on the Boise Greenbelt.

The primary distinguishing feature of running in a triathlon is that it occurs after the athlete has already been exercising in two other disciplines for an extended period of time, so many muscles are already tired. The effect of switching from cycling to running can be profound; first-time triathletes are often astonished at their muscle weakness, which may be caused by lactate accumulation and the bizarre, sometimes painful sensation in their thighs a few hundred yards into the run, and discover that they run at a much slower pace than they are accustomed to in training. Triathletes train for this phenomenon through transition workouts known as "bricks": back-to-back workouts involving two disciplines, most commonly cycling and running.

Transition

The change over from sport to sport takes place in a designated transition area. The transition provides a staging area where bicycles, running shoes, hydration and other gear is set up ready to be used during the course of the event. The first transition, known as T1, is between the swim-to-bike segments of the race. The second transition, T2, is between the bike-to-run segments. Most events have one common transition area for both T1 and T2, while some point to point events have two separate transition areas. The time spent in transition is a timed segment and contributes towards the overall finishing time of the event.

Notable events

ITU-sanctioned events

Olympics

The sport made its debut on the Olympic program at the Sydney Games in 2000 over the Olympic Distance (swim: 1,500 m [1,650 yd] – bike: 40 km [24.9 mi] – run: 10 km [6.2 mi]).

Paralympics

Paratriathlon at the Summer Paralympics debuted at the 2016 Summer Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[71][72]. Paratriathlon is a variant of the triathlon for athletes with a physical disability. The Paralympic event originally scheduled a sprint race with athletes competing in six categories according to the nature of their physical impairments.[73][74]

World competitions
Multi-sport events

Other events

Thousands of individual triathlons are held around the world each year. A few of these races are well known because they have a long history or because they have particularly grueling courses and race conditions.

  • Hawaii Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawaii. First held in 1978 on Oahu, only five years after the sport of triathlon was founded; it was later moved to Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii. The cycling stage of the race covers more than 100 mi (160 km) over lava flats on the big island of Hawaii, where mid-day temperatures often reach over 110 °F (43 °C) and cross-winds sometimes blow at 55 mph (89 km/h). The race is often challenging even to competitors with experience in other iron-distance events. Being a world championship race, only competitors that meet qualifying guidelines can enter, typically qualifying slots are awarded in other Ironman sanctioned events.
  • Nice Triathlon, Nice, France. A race that existed until 2002 when the course was adopted by the WTC as Ironman France. During the 1980s the Nice Long Distance triathlon (swim 4 km [2.5 mi], bike 120 km [75 mi], run 30 km [19 mi]) was, alongside the World Championships in Kona, one of the two important races each year with prize money and media attention. Mark Allen won here 10 consecutive times. The ITU's Long Distance is a Nice-Distance race except during a short period from late 2006 to early 2008, in which it was 3 km (1.9 mi) + 80 km (50 mi) + 2 km (1.2 mi).
  • Enduroman Arch to Arc. A 465-kilometre (289 mi) triathlon from Marble Arch, London to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Run from Marble Arch in London to Dover 140 kilometres (87 mi), swim the English Channel 35 kilometres (22 mi) to Calais, and then cycle 291 kilometres (181 mi) from Calais to Paris. For this challenge, the clock starts at Marble Arch and stops at Arc de Triomphe. Only 24 people in history have completed this event.
  • St. Anthony's, St. Petersburg, Florida. Held in the last week of April every year, this race attracts professional and amateur triathletes from around the world. One of the largest Olympic Distance triathlon in the U.S. with over 4,000 participants each year.
  • Escape from Alcatraz, San Francisco, California. This non-standard-length race begins with a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) swim in frigid San Francisco Bay waters from Alcatraz Island to shore, followed by an 18-mile (29 km) bicycle and 8-mile (13 km) run in the extremely hilly terrain of the San Francisco Bay Area. The run includes the notorious "Sand Ladder", a 400-step staircase climb up a beachside cliff.
  • Wildflower is a half-iron distance race held on the first weekend of May at Lake San Antonio on the Central Coast of California since 1983. Known for a particularly hilly course, it has expanded now to include three races of different lengths and is one of the largest triathlon events in the world, with over 8,000 athletes attending each year.
  • Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series. Life Time Tri Series is a series of 5 Olympic distance races: The Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis, the NYC Triathlon in New York City, the Chicago Triathlon, the LA Triathlon in Los Angeles, and the U.S. Open in Dallas. There is a combined $1.5 Million prize purse at stake for the professionals who come from around the world to take part in the series.
  • Hy-Vee Triathlon, started in 2007 by the mid-west grocery store chain Hy-Vee. The race had the richest prize purse awarded for a single triathlon. The race was formally part of the ITU Triathlon World Cup series from 2008 to 2010 and briefly served as the World Triathlon Corporation's 5150 Series U.S. Championships.
  • Norseman Extreme Triathlon, Hardangerfjord, Norway. Norseman is an Ironman-distance triathlon that starts with a swim in the Hardangerfjord and finishes on top of a Gaustatoppen mountain at 1,850 m (6,070 ft) above sea level. Famous for its lower temperatures and 5,000 m (16,000 ft) total ascent, this race accepts only 200 competitors each year.
  • Ironman 70.3 World Championship
  • Grand Prix de Triathlon, the French club championship series sponsored by Lyonnaise des Eaux. The circuit comprises five triathlons and by the French Triathlon Federation and attracts professional international triathletes hired by French triathlon clubs.
  • Triathlon EDF Alpe d'Huez, established in 2006 by the 2002 Long Distance World Champion Cyrille Neveu, is one of the best known single triathlons in France.

Nonstandard variations

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Friel, Joe (1998). The Triathlete's Training Bible. na: VeloPress. ISBN 1-884737-48-X.
  • Friel, Joe (2008). Going Long: Training for Ironman-Distance Triathlons. na: VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-934030-06-6.
  • Friel, Joe (2006). Your First Triathlon. na: VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-931382-85-4.
  • Bernhardt, Gale (2006). Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. na: VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-931382-92-2.
  • Bernhardt, Gale (2004). Triathlon Training Basics. na: VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-931382-25-0.

External links

Media related to Triathlon at Wikimedia Commons

Andrea Hewitt

Andrea Hewitt (born 4 April 1982) is a professional triathlete who placed third at the 2009 ITU Triathlon World Championships and competed at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics.

Hamish Carter

Hamish Clive Carter (born 28 April 1971 in Auckland) is a New Zealand triathlete. He won the gold medal in triathlon at the 2004 Summer Olympics, his second Olympic games. Carter also competed on the International Triathlon Union World Cup circuit as a professional for many years, culminating in a silver medal in 2006 before announcing his retirement early in 2007. During his career he won twelve ITU world cup races.

Carter attended Auckland Grammar School where he was a successful rower, competing twice in the Maadi Cup.Carter won the bronze medal in triathlon at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and then went on to win the triathlon gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, defeating fellow New Zealander, Bevan Docherty. Carter's time was 1:51:07.73, less than eight seconds faster than Docherty's. On 3 September 2006 in Lausanne, Carter won silver at the World Championships after finishing 17 seconds behind Tim Don. In October 2006, Hamish Carter won the Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii defeating a field of more experienced off-road triathletes.

On 6 March 2007 he announced his retirement.

ITU Aquathlon World Championships

The ITU Aquathlon World Championships have been held annually since 1998, typically a few days preceding and in the same location as the ITU Triathlon World Championships, however since 2007 the championships have been held as totally separate events in different locations. The championships involve a continuous swim-run, typically with run being 5 km and the swim being between 750m and 1 km (however the distances have varied during the event's history). The championships are organised by the International Triathlon Union.

ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships

The ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships, is an annual team triathlon competition organized by the International Triathlon Union (ITU). The competition is completed in teams of four, two men and two women, with each member doing a super-sprint distance triathlon.

ITU Triathlon World Cup

The ITU Triathlon World Cup is an annual series of triathlon races staged around the world. The series is organised by the International Triathlon Union (ITU), the world governing body of the sport. Inaugurated in 1991 in an attempt to create a regular season under its management in tandem with the ITU Triathlon World Championship, however this meant that there was a World cup champion as well as a world champion. Following the 2008 series the ITU reorganized its top level competitions and created the ITU World Triathlon Series, a series of races that was to be the successor of the World championship. Meanwhile, the World Cup was relegated to become a second tier series, as a result the number of races in the World Cup were reduced. Since the reformat, points earned in World Cup racing are now applied only to an athletes World Ranking.

ITU World Triathlon Series

The ITU World Triathlon Series is the International Triathlon Union's annual series of triathlon events used to crown an annual world champion. There are multiple rounds of competitions culminating in a Grand Final race. Athletes compete head-to-head for points in these races that will determine the overall ITU world champion. The elite championship races are held over two distances the standard and the sprint distance.

As of 2018 a mixed relay series is to be run in tandem, where national teams compete in mixed team relays for prize money and Olympic qualifying points. One of these races will be the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships.

International Triathlon Union

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is the international governing body for the multi-sport disciplines of triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and other nonstandard variations. The ITU host the top level international race series the ITU World Triathlon Series and the ITU Triathlon World Cup. More recently, the ITU created a long distance race circuit with official world championships. Long Distance Triathlon races are closer in length to Ironman Triathlon races owned and organized by the World Triathlon Corporation.

The ITU also sanctions and organizes official Aquathlon (swim-run), Duathlon (run-bike-run) and Winter triathlon championships. The ITU is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland

Ironman 70.3

An Ironman 70.3, also known as a Half Ironman, is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The "70.3" refers to the total distance in miles (113.0 km) covered in the race, consisting of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. Each distance of the swim, bike, and run segments is half the distance of that segment in an Ironman Triathlon. The Ironman 70.3 series culminates each year with a World Championship competition, for which competitors qualify during the 70.3 series in the 12 months prior to the championship race. In addition to the World Championship race, Ironman 70.3 championship competitions are also held for the European, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America regions.The time needed by an athlete to complete a 70.3 distance event varies from race to race and can be influenced by external factors. These factors include the terrain and the total elevation gained and lost on the course, weather conditions, and course conditions. Finish times range from sub-four-hour completion times by elite level athletes to the imposed race cut off, which is commonly 8 hours and 30 minutes after the start time.

Ironman Triathlon

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.Most Ironman events have a limited time of 16 or 17 hours to complete the race, course dependent. The race typically starts at 7:00am; the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim is 9:20am (2 hours 20 minutes), the mandatory bike cut off time is 5:30pm (8 hours 10 minutes), and the mandatory marathon cut off is midnight (6 hours 30 minutes). Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon within these time constraints is designated an Ironman.

The name "Ironman Triathlon" is also associated with the original Ironman triathlon which is now the Ironman World Championship. Held in Kailua-Kona, the world championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982). Originally taking place in Oahu, the race moved to Kailua-Kona in 1981, where it continues today. The Ironman World Championship has become known for its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and Emmy Award-winning television coverage.Other races exist that are of the same distance as an Ironman triathlon but are not produced, owned, or licensed by the World Triathlon Corporation. Such races include The Challenge Family series' Challenge Roth and the Norseman Triathlon.

Ironman World Championship

The Ironman World Championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978, with an additional race in 1982. It is owned and organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. It is the annual culmination of a series of Ironman triathlon qualification races held throughout the world.

Triathlon at the 2000 Summer Olympics

Triathlon made its official debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. This sporting event was held at the Sydney Opera House. Forty-eight triathletes contested the female event on September 16, while fifty-two contested the male event on September 17, making up a total of 100 competitors. Each competitor starts the event with a 1500-metre swim course, followed by a 40 kilometre road bicycle race and finish with a 10 kilometre road run. Each consecutive event in triathlon runs in sequence, without any respite, so that the athlete who crossed the line in first place at the end of the run would be the winner.

Triathlon at the 2004 Summer Olympics

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, the triathlon events were held at the Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre. Fifty triathletes contested the female event on August 25, and the same number contested the male event on August 26, making up a total of 100 competitors.

Each competitor starts the event with a 1500-metre swim course, followed by a 40 kilometre road bicycle race and finish with a 10 kilometre road run. Both leg transitions (swimming—cycling and cycling—running) are performed on a special transition area, under judge's scrutiny and the duration of the transition is added to the final time.

A pre-Olympic test event was staged over the Olympic course in October 2003, and saw Denmark's Rasmus Henning and Australia's Michellie Jones winning the men's and women's events.

Triathlon at the 2006 Commonwealth Games

The 2006 Commonwealth Games Triathlon events were held on March 18, 2006 in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, which plays host to most triathlon events held in Melbourne.

Both men's and women's courses were conducted over the Olympic distance of 1500 m swim, 40 km ride and 10 km run, and were held according to the International Triathlon Union (ITU) rules.

Triathlon at the 2008 Summer Olympics

The Triathlon competitions at the 2008 Summer Olympics, in Beijing, were held on Monday, August 18 (women) and Tuesday, August 19 (men), on the Triathlon Venue at the Ming Tomb Reservoir in Shisanling.

Each competitor started the event with a 1,500 metres (0.93 mi) swim course, followed by a 40 kilometres (25 mi) road bicycle race and finished with a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) road run. Both leg transitions (swimming—cycling and cycling—running) were performed on a special transition area, under judge's scrutiny. The cycling was carried out as 6 laps of 6.66 km each and the running as 4 laps of 2.5 km each.

Triathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics

The triathlon events at the 2012 Summer Olympics were held in Hyde Park in London, United Kingdom, with the women's triathlon held on 4 August and the men's on 7 August. 110 triathletes from 39 countries competed with 55 men and 55 women competing. The races were held over the "international distance" (also called "Olympic distance") and consisted of 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) swimming, 43 kilometres (27 mi) road cycling, and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) road running.The men's race was held on 7 August 2012. A group of six finished the 1,500-metre (1,600 yd) swim leg in a lead group. A large lead group of athletes were together at the end of the cycling leg but Alistair Brownlee broke away on the run to win the gold medal with Javier Gómez in second and Jonathan Brownlee in third. The women's race was held on 4 August 2012. A group of seven women finished the swim leg in a lead group. A large lead group of 22 athletes were together at the end of the cycling leg with a gap of over a minute and a half over the rest of the field. A group of five athletes formed on the running leg; Nicola Spirig, Lisa Nordén, Erin Densham, Sarah Groff and Helen Jenkins and held together for most of the run. Jenkins was dropped with two kilometres to go before Groff was dropped, also on the last lap. In the ensuing sprint finish Spirig beat Nordén by 15 centimetres in a photo finish with both athletes recording the same time. Densham finished two seconds behind Spirig to win the bronze medal.Great Britain topped the medal tally with one gold medal and one bronze medal, both in the men's race. Switzerland became the first nation to win two gold medals in Olympic triathlon and Australia won its fifth medal, the most in Olympic triathlon history to that point.

Triathlon at the 2016 Summer Olympics

The triathlon competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro took place from 18 to 20 August 2016 at Fort Copacabana. Fifty-five athletes competed in each of the men's and women's events.

Triathlon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Triathlon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was held in the Southport Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast from April 5th to 7th. A total of five events took place, two each for men and women and a mixed relay event. For the first time ever, para-triathlon events were contested at the Commonwealth Games.

Triathlon at the 2019 Pacific Games

Triathlon at the 2019 Pacific Games is being held on 19–20 July 2019 at the Sogi Recreational Park in Apia, Samoa.

Triathlon at the Summer Olympics

Triathlon had its Summer Olympics debut at the 2000 Games, in Sydney, and has been contested since then. It is governed by the International Triathlon Union.

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