What does Triathlon Involve?

First, congratulations – after your first multisport event, we know you’ll be hooked! This section will help triathlon newcomers get ready for your first multisport challenge.

What Exactly Does Triathlon Involve?

A standard triathlon event involves a continuous timed race over various distances combining the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. Triathlon events occur in that order – a swim, followed by a cycle ride, followed by a run.

Between swim and cycle event, and between cycle event and run, you have the “transition”, triathlon’s “fourth discipline”. A good transition routine shaves minutes off your time so practice in advance!  The first transition between swim and bike is known as “T1” and the final transition between cycle and run is known as “T2”.

Other multisport events are Duathlon (Run/Bike/Run) and typically take place during the Triathlon low season. Similar to open water Triathlon events these are normally mass start (wave size dependent) events. Aquathlon (Swim/Run) events also take place throughout the season.

Triathlon Race Distances

Triathlon event distances vary, and some races offer different distances for experienced and novice triathletes. There are, however, some standard triathlon distances that should help you judge your fitness levels for your first triathlon race (and future Triathlons too!). Distances are displayed as swim/bike/run:

  • Super sprint triathlon:400m/10km/2.5km
  • Sprint distance triathlon:750m/20km/5km
  • Olympic distance triathlon:1500m/40km/10km
  • Middle distance triathlon (half ironman or 70.3):1.9km/90km/21k
  • Ironman distance triathlon:3.8km/180km/42km

Novice triathletes come in many shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. You may have embarked upon your triathlon challenge as part of a change of direction in your life, you may have migrated to your first time triathlon from another high endurance sport, or a beginner’s triathlon may simply be the next step for you. Whatever your reasons, you are ultimately the best judge of whether a sprint triathlon, Olympic, middle distance or a long distance triathlon will suit you best (warning:- ironman distance triathlons are for extremely fit and experienced athletes).