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So how long is a triathlon?

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Ironman | No Comments »

I’ve been mentioning Ironman Triathlon, and sprint Triathlon recently, but just how far is a “normal” triathlon and what does it involve?

Well, a triathlon is typically a swim, followed by a cycle and then a run, and there are a number of standard distances.  A sprint triathlon consists of a 0.75km swim, 20km cycle and then 5km run.  One step up from that is what’s known as Olympic distance.  Olympic triathlon is 1.5km swim, 20km cycle and then a 10k run.  Next up is the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Long Distance, otherwise known as Double Olympic Distance so you can probably guess that each of the three disciplines is doubled – 3km swim, 80km cycle, 20km run.  There is also an ITU triple distance, where the Olympic distance is tripled.

Next we get to the half Ironman (known as Ironman 70.3, or middle distance) which is 1.93km (1.2 miles) swim, 90km (56 mile) cycle and then 21.09km (13.1 miles – a half marathon) run, and the full Ironman which is 3.86km (2.4 mile) swim, 180km (112 miles) cycle and then a full marathon of 42.2km (26.2 miles) running to finish!

There are also some shorter distances such as a super sprint which is 0.4km swim, 10km cycle and 2km run and the “Ironkids” event for children which varies in distance but tends to be about half of the super sprint distance.

Here’s a table to compare the various triathlon distances:

Name Swim Bicycle Run Notes
Kids of Steel 100–750  m 5–15 km 1–5 km Distances vary with age of athlete (Ironkids)
Super Sprint 400 m

(0.25  mi)

10 km

(6.2  mi)

2.5 km

(1.5 mi)

Distances vary, but this is a standard Super Sprint course.
Sprint 750 m

(0.47 mi)

20 km

(12.4 mi)

5 km

(3.1  mi)

For pool-based races a 500m swim is common. The sprint distance is the fastest growing triathlon race distance in the United States
Olympic 1.5 km

(0.93  mi)

40 km

(24.8  mi)

10 km

(6.2  mi)

Also known as “international distance”, “standard course”, or “short course”
ITU Long Distance 3.0 km

(1.86 mi)

80 km

(49.6 mi)

20 km

(12.4 mi)

Double Olympic Distance
Half 1.93 km

(1.2  mi)

90 km

(56  mi)

21.09 km

(13.1  mi)

Also known as “middle distance”, 70.3, or “half-ironman”
Full 3.86 km

(2.4  mi)

180 km

(112  mi)

42.2 km

(26.2  mi)

Also known as “long distance” or “Ironman Triathlon”

So next time someone asks you have far a half Ironman is, or read a blog post mentioning an ITU triple length triathlon you’ll know what it means!

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