How Long is a Triathlon?-by Ray Fauteux

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It’s been over 30 years since the first Ironman Triathlon took place in Hawaii, and since then the sport has exploded in popularity and triathlon races of varying distances are taking place all over the world.

Since the Ironman triathon was born in the late 1970’s, the sport of triathlon has captivated people around the world. People who embrace the sport simply because they realize it is “doable” for them and provides a rare opportunity to accomplish something very special.

What people find the most appealing, is the fact that it’s not necessary to be a “super athlete” in order to take part in a triathlon. More than any sport in the world, triathlon has resulted in many people gaining a level of fitness they never thought possible.

Of course not everyone is ready to leap into an Ironman Triathlon. Especially when you look at what the event involves. An Ironman consists of a 2.2 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a full 26.2 mile marathon. When you consider that just doing a marathon is an amazing accomplishment for many people, it puts into perspective just how special Ironman athletes are.

Over the years, triathlons of several variations of the Ironman have developed. Although all triathlons consist of the same three events, and the format-swim, then bike, then run- stays the same, the distances vary.

This is a good thing. Now people who are new to triathlon can start out with much shorter races. A beginner triathlon might include a 500 meter pool swim, a 20 km. bike, and a 5 km. run. This is a great way to get your feet wet(so to speak)and find out what the sport is all about.

It’s especially helpful to those who have to learn how to swim in order to take part in a triathlon. A shorter pool swim will help build confidence as they work their way up to the Ironman distance.

The distance that is becoming very well know is the Olympic distance. This is a set distance and is the distance the Olympic athletes cover when they compete in the Games. No matter where in the world you race this distance, it’s a 1.5 km. swim, 40 km. bike, and 10 km. run.

If the Ironman Triathlon is firmly in your sights, it would be wise to also take a shot at the next distance after the Olympic distance. That would be a “half Ironman.” This is also a set distance and as the name implies, is exactly half the length of a full Ironman race. So the swim would be 1.2 miles, the bike 56 miles, and the run 13.1 miles.

Also, lets not forget about the kids. There are amazing kids triathlon programs that have kids competing in triathlons as young as 6 and 7 years old and sometimes even younger. They might swim one length of the pool wearing their water-wings(and with a parent in the water with them)bike a few hundred meters on their trike, and have a short run to the finish line.

So their is a triathlon distance out there for pretty well anyone who wants to take up the challenge of the fastest growing sport in the world.


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