Give it a Tri! | Part 1 - Triathlon Distances

Nuiiko / Triathlon - The Entire Family can Enjoy Triathlon - The Entire Family can Enjoy

Triathlon is a great sport for athletes advance to. It can also be an exciting family sport!

A Sport Your Entire Family can Enjoy

The sport of triathlon promotes a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. The explosion in the sport’s popularity is due in part to the variety of courses and distances offered and venues that appeal to a broad spectrum of ability levels. The number of kid-specific races held in conjunction with adult events has also surged, providing an activity the entire family can enjoy.

Triathlon Formats

Generally speaking, triathlons are organized in four race formats:

Name Swim Bike Run
Sprint 750m (0.5 mi) 20km (12.4 mi) 5 km (3.1 mi)
Olympic 1500m (0.9 mi) 40 km (24. 9 mi) 10 km (6.2 mi)
Half 1900m (1.2 mi) 90 km (56 mi) 21 km (13.1 mi)
Full 3900m (2.4 mi) 180 km (112 mi) 42 km (26.2 mi)

Ironman®, arguably the brand most widely known and commonly associated with the sport of triathlon, promotes the Full distance. The Half is, not surprisingly, half the distance of a Full. It is a wildly popular format and serves as a stepping stone for many who wish to complete a Full. The Olympic is so named because it follows the format used in the Olympic Games. Distances for the Sprint vary, but the most common sprint distance is that used by the International Triathlon Union (ITU). Sprint distance races allow beginners a manageable and fun way to enter the sport.

Variations to the distances listed above include races designed for kids—think quick and fun—and courses designed for racing off-road using a mountain bike for the cycling portion of the race.

Anne Wilson

Anne Wilson is the co-owner and head swim coach of Camelback Coaching, a full-service triathlon coaching company located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Anne swam competitively, including collegiately at the US Naval Academy, before diving into the sport of triathlon. She has competed in triathlons for over twenty-five years and coached full time for ten. For more information, please visit

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