Triathlon Distances

A Look at the Different Triathlon Distances

Triathlon Distances Can Vary

Triathlon distances vary depending on what type of race you're competing in.  The most common triathlon distances are Sprint distance, International distance, Olympic distance, Long distance, Ultra Distance, and the Ironman.  Each race consists of 3 continuous endurance events, swimming, biking and running.  The distances of each event can vary from race to race.

Sprint Triathlon
- 0.5 mile swim
- 12.4 mile bike ride
- 3.1 mile run  

International Triathlon
- .62-1.24 mile swim
- 15.5-31 mile bike ride
- 3.1-6.2 mile run

Olympic Triathlon
- .93 mile swim
- 24.86 mile bike ride
- 6.21 mile run

Long Distance
- 2.48 mile swim
- 21-62 mile bike ride
- 6.2-19 mile run

Ultra Distance
- 2+ mile swim
- 62+ mile bike ride
- 19+ mile run

Ironman Triathlon
- 2.4 mile swim
- 112 mile bike ride
- 26.2 mile run

Triathlons are unique because you have to transition from swimming to biking to running all within the race.  For beginners, that can be very difficult, especially if you didn’t practice the transitions during your training.  You also need to make sure you have all the necessary gear for each part of the race.

Most experienced triathletes wear wetsuits for the swimming portion of the race.  Depending on what time of year it is, a wetsuit can help keep you warm, and is very buoyant.  These can be expensive, so beginners may want to start out with a triathlon top and shorts.  Wetsuits can also be hard to get out of if you aren't used to wearing them.  This can cost you time as you transition from the swim to the bicycle stage.  Goggles and swim caps are also frequently used.

What kind of bike you use really depends on your personal preference.  Most triathletes tend to use either a road bike or a triathlon bike.  Some also put a lot of money into their bikes, upgrading the frame and tires.  This is more common with experienced triathletes.  Also, you'll need a bike helmet, biking shorts and a top, as well as biking shoes.

A comfortable pair of shoes is the most important thing you'll need for the run.  A bad pair of shoes can cause foot problems, blisters, and generally can make the run very painful.  This can be addressed in your training, so you know that your shoes won't cause any problems on race day.