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The interest in knowing all about triathlon can have many reasons. The first is usually related to the desire to understand a little more about the routine of these athletes who dedicate their lives to overcoming so many limits.

After all, becoming a high-performance athlete is a huge challenge, which can be even greater for those who decide to dedicate themselves to a sport that demands high performance in three different disciplines! That’s what triathlon is all about. A sport that combines three categories: swimming, cycling and running.

And it is precisely the high degree of difficulty, one of the elements that draws people’s attention to the category, which made its debut at the Olympics in 2000, in Sydney, Australia, but was practiced long before that.

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The origin of triathlon

Around 1970, a group of friends were discussing which athlete would be the most physically fit: a swimmer, a cyclist or a runner.

To find the answer, they decided to combine the three disciplines in a single race to determine the winner.

This pioneering event was organized by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, members of the US Navy, and 46 competitors took part.

The success of this first event gave rise to the modern triathlon, which quickly gained popularity in the United States and around the world.

Soon after, in 1978, the first Ironman was held, one of the most iconic races in triathlon, which sums up the spirit of overcoming the limits of athletes in this category.

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Undoubtedly, when it comes to competition, triathlon is one of the most demanding sporting disciplines.

This is because the athlete needs to show their skill and mastery of the techniques for each sport, as well as displaying high physical and mental endurance, keeping up the pace throughout the race.

This set of elements makes the sport one of the great attractions for amateur athletes or even those who just enjoy following the competitions.

If you want to know all about triathlon, check out the tips and information we’ve shared here!

All about triathlon: what are the sports?

The triathlon includes three sports disciplines in a single race: swimming, cycling and running. They are all practiced with the stopwatch running, without pausing to change equipment. Therefore, triathletes generally train intensively in each of the three disciplines, as well as working on the transition between them.

However, some events with triathletes can have different formats, such as the Ultra IronMan, which lasts three days.

In addition, among the sports of the Olympic Games, some new triathlon disciplines have begun to appear, such as the mixed relay, with teams of two men and two women competing in a short-distance triathlon.

Triathlon at the 2024 Paris Olympics

The format of the triathlon event at the Olympic Games for the men’s and women’s events consists of 1,500 m of swimming (0,93 miles), 40km of cycling (24,8 miles) and 10 km (6,2 miles) of running. As a result, the Olympics currently has three triathlon-related events: the women’s competition, the men’s competition and the relay.

This will even be the format for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. It’s worth keeping an eye on the world’s best athletes in their quest for a gold medal!

In fact, if you want to watch the men’s triathlon race at the Tokyo Olympics, just watch the video below. The finish is surprising, with the champion falling ill at the end of the race, showing just how much the sport demands of even the greatest athletes.

What are the main characteristics of triathlon?

Triathlon has characteristics that make it a unique sport, among them:

  • Multidisciplinary sport
  • Combines swimming, cycling and running
  • The stopwatch goes on and on
  • You have to make quick transitions in the shortest possible time
  • There are races with different distances
  • You need specific equipment for each discipline.

Below, we’ll explain each of these characteristics of triathlon, let’s go! 🏊‍♂️🏃🚴

A combination of swimming, cycling and running in a single competition

To understand everything about triathlon, you need to start with the basics: know the three disciplines that make up triathlon. As we said above, they are: swimming, cycling and running.

They are all carried out in a single competition, starting with swimming, moving on to running and finishing with cycling.

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All about Triathlon: swimming is the first discipline to be performed

This alternation requires athletes to have a high level of skill and aptitude in all three categories, making this a multidisciplinary sport.

In this article, we present some of the main rules of triathlon. Read on!

The clock is ticking

Another characteristic of the triathlon is that during the competition, the athletes must complete a series of activities in the shortest time possible.

The starting and finishing points are defined for each discipline and the aim is to complete the circuit in the shortest time possible, without breaking the rules, of course!

You have to make quick transitions in the shortest possible time

During transitions from one sport to the next, the athlete needs to be careful to change equipment efficiently, avoiding wasting time or getting lost.

In addition, you need technique and training to avoid mistakes or stumbles that could cost you penalties, for example.

In other words, it’s not enough to make the transition in a hurry. You have to be aware of the rules and make the equipment changes carefully.

Many coaches say that transition is the fourth discipline of triathlon, which is why it’s so important to train it.

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Everything about triathlon: it is essential that the athlete makes a good transition between disciplines

How long does a triathlon last?

The length of a triathlon depends on the type of race. At the 2021 Olympics in Japan, the winner (Kristian Blummenfelt) completed the circuit in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 04 seconds. There are no heats, and the competition is a single race in which the first athlete to cross the finish line is the winner.

Remember that in the Olympic triathlon the distances are 1,500 m of swimming (0,93 miles), 40km of cycling (24,8 miles) and 10 km (6,2 miles) of running.

What is triathlon distance?

The Olympic distance triathlon is a sport that includes:

  • 1.5 km (0,93 miles) of swimming
  • 40 km (24,8 miles) of cycling
  • 10 km (6,2 miles) of run

The distances are covered in a single race (not in heats) and the first to cross the finish line is the winner.

The distance of the sprint (or short) triathlon is approximately

  • 750 meters of swimming
  • 20 kilometers of cycling (12,4 miles)
  • 5 kilometers of running (3,1 miles)

In other words, you have to run half the distance that the Olympic discipline requires, which makes it the smallest event in the competition.

Two other very famous disciplines are the Half Ironman and the Ironman:

  • Half Ironman: 1.9 kilometers of swimming (1,18 miles), 90 kilometers of cycling (55,9 miles) and 21.1 kilometers of running (13,1 miles).
  • Ironman: 3.8 kilometers of swimming (2,4 miles), 180 kilometers of cycling (111,8 miles) and 42.2 kilometers (26,22 miles) of running (the distance of a marathon). 😵‍

You can see why it’s called “ironman”, can’t you? Can you imagine doing all this in a single race?

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All about triathlon: the race is the final stage of triathlon competitions

But it doesn’t stop there, after all, there is currently a race called Ultraman, which takes place over three days, each dedicated to a different discipline:

  • Day 1: 10 km (6,2 miles) swimming followed by 145 km cycling (90 miles).
  • Day 2: 276 km (171,4 miles) of cycling.
  • Day 3: 84 km (52,1 miles) of running (double marathon).

Crazy? Tell me what you think?

Sprint (or Short)750 m swim
20 km cycling
5 km of running.
Olympic, also called Standard1.5 km of swimming
40 km cycling
10 km run.
Long distance, according to the ITU, can be double or even triple the standard distance3 km of swimming
80 km cycling
20 km of running
4.5 km of swimming
120 km cycling
30 km run
Mixed Relay300 m swimming
8 km cycling
2 km run

Half-Ironman (70.3)
1.9 km swim
90 km cycling
21 km run.
IronMan3.8 km of swimming
180 km cycling
42.2 km run
Ultra IronMan (3 days of competition)Day 1: 10 km swim followed by 145 km of cycling.
Day 2: 276 km of cycling.
Day 3: 84 km of running (double marathon).

What are the rules of triathlon?

When listing the rules of triathlon, we used the USA Triathlon website and the official page of the 2024 Olympics as sources.

However, in an effort to make it easier for you to understand, we’ve put together a more simplified list of rules that tends to be sufficient for those just starting out in the sport.

But if you want a super-complete guide to everything about triathlon and its rules, penalties and suggestions for high-performance athletes, you can access the World Triathlon Competition Rules manual for free.

In the meantime, get to know the basic rules of triathlon.

  • Competitors must have their helmet on and strapped in before getting on the bike.
  • Competitors must have their race number displayed and visible and their numbers on the bike and helmet.
  • Competitors must ride their bikes as far to the right side of the track as possible.
  • It is only permitted to overtake on the left and then immediately return to the right. Violation of this rule is understood as a type of blocking and is prohibited.
  • You must store your bikes properly and respect other competitors’ equipment.
  • Competitors must follow the official instructions of each race and of the stewards.
  • Competitors must not wear headphones while cycling.
  • Athletes must wear their timing chip throughout the race. After crossing the finish line, they must hand it in to a race official to receive the official time.

So, do you feel like you know all about triathlon? Are you going to take on the challenge of becoming a triathlete? Remember to seek the guidance of a physical education professional and a coach. This will ensure that you have access to the best results that sport can bring to your life!

Take advantage of the fact that you’ve come this far to check out all about the Olympics and the best female and male athletes from Brazil and around the world! See also:

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