A What-a-thon?

Tripto-thon, triple marathon, marathon, triathalon, tria-thong (kidding about this one) - these are all words I’ve personally heard from others to describe triathlon. I don’t blame ‘em though! Triathlon can be a tricky word to spell while “marathon” is the more popular term commonly used in cliche motivational analogies like: “It’s a marathon...not a sprint”.

If you would have asked me to define triathlon when I first heard the word (about 6 years ago), I would’ve replied: “Uh...a long race, where you do those three things.”

Triathlon isn’t as popular as Football, Basketball, Baseball, or any of the other prime-time sports found on major TV channels. However, it is a sport that has been booming in the past decade and is growing every year. So for those interested, here’s what triathlon is, simply put:

Triathlon is a race that involves the completion of three continuous endurance sports. The most common three sports completed during a triathlon are (in order): swimming, biking, and running.


Distance Levels

What many people, including myself back in the day, don’t realize is that there are different distance levels of triathlon. Unlike a marathon, which is a set 26.2 miles, triathlon distances can vary. Here are the most common distances:

  • Sprint Distance: 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim | 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike | 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run
  • International (Olympic) Distance: 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) swim | 40-kilometer (25-mile) bike | 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run
  • Half-Iron Distance (70.3): 1.9-kilometer (1.2-mile) swim | 90-kilometer (56-mile) bike | 21.1-kilometer (13.1-mile) run
  • Ironman Distance (140.6): 3.8-kilometer (2.4-mile) swim | 180.2-kilometer (112.0-mile) bike | 42.2-kilometer (26.2-mile) run

These 4 distance levels are just a standard. There are tons of races that contain variations of each of the levels. For example, my first triathlon was a Sprint: 400 meter swim | 14 mile bike | 5k run.


Toe Deep

So there you have it. In triathlon you swim, then bike, then run. Not all races are the same distance. Many non-triathletes don’t know about the Sprint distance level, which is a great way to dip your toes in the water and ease into the sport.

So to those who’ve never done a triathlon before...do you now have a slight thought of possibly attempting one...someday?

Think no more because...YOU CAN. Why? Well, I’ll tell you in the next post.

-JTR