Triathlon FAQ’s

What is a triathlon?
A triathlon is a three-sport race.

What is the order of the sports?
Swim, bike, and run.

What is a duathlon?
A duathlon consists of only 2 of the sports; the run and the bike and typically a duathlon competition involves a run, bike, and then a run.

Are all triathlons Ironmans?
No, there are many different distances: Sprint, Olympic, Half Iron, and even “mini” triathlons.

What are the various race distances?

  • Sprint distances vary, but typically involve a 400-850 yard swim, 10-20 mile bike, and a 3 to 5-mile run.
  • Olympic/International: 1500 meter swim (.93 mile), 40 kilometer bike (24.8 mile), and a 10 kilometer (10.2 mile) run.
  • Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run.
  • Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon.

Are triathlons expensive?
Being a triathlete can be expensive, or it may be done fairly reasonably. Most registration fees for shorter races range from $30 to $60, half Ironmans and Ironmans are more expensive due to the amount of preparation, staff, and insurance required ($375-$500).

What type of equipment do you need?
This depends at the level you would like to compete at, but many triathletes start with a road or mountain bike (and helmet), wetsuit and goggles, and a good pair of running shoes. Some races require wetsuits ($200-$400), but you can often rent one ($50-75 per race) or buy one on-line for less than $125. Buying a tri-specific bike, racing wheels, and more specialized training equipment will up the expense and lower your time.

Do you have to be a good swimmer to compete?
You do not need to be fast swimmer, but you need to be confident in open water. The swim is the shortest and least time consuming part of each triathlon. There are triathlons with pool swims that are great for beginners, but eventually you’d need to be comfortable swimming in open water.

Who invented the Triathlon and why?
The Triathlon originated in 1974 in Mission Bay, California when a group of cyclists, runners and swimmers (many of them members of the San Diego Track Club) began training together for a break from their typical rigorous, one-sport training schedules. The training sessions soon evolved into informal races and the first official triathlon was held on September 25, 1974.

What is an Ironman?
An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run. It is considered the most challenging single-day event in the world.

Who invented the Ironman and why?
Several members of the military stationed in Hawaii in the mid-70s were discussing whether swimming, biking, or running was the most difficult sport. They decided to make a race that combined the longest race distance in each of those sports, and, with the active involvement of triathletes like John Collins, who competed in the first official triathlon in California in 1974, the Ironman was born. The first Ironman triathlon was held in 1978 in Oahu, Hawaii.

See also FAQs by Raymond Britt:

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