Triathlon as a Growing Sport

Triathlon gold

Triathlon gold

The 2012 Olympic Games in London highlighted one of the UK’s fastest growing and most enduring sporting events “the triathlon”.

A triathlon is a multiple stage competition which involves the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines. The word “triathlon” comes from the Greek language and was made up of two words which were trei (three) and athlos (contest).

There are various types and competitions of triathlon but the most commonly known triathlon involves the sports of swimming, cycling and running. These three events take place in immediate succession and they will be completed over various distances.

Whilst some athletes may be fastest at any particular part of the race or course (for instance swimming), it is the athlete who completes the ovreall course in the fastest time who wins the Triathlon.

The main and most common triathlon distances are agreed by the International Triathlon Union and also the USA triathlon body. These distances are as follows:

  • Sprint Distance – 750 metres (0.47 mi) swim, 20 kilometres (12 mi) cycling, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) run
  • Intermediate (or Standard) distance, often referred to as “Olympic distance” – (1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) swim, 40 kilometres (25 mi) bike, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) run
  • Long Course – (1.2 miles (1.9 km) swim, 56 miles (90 km) ride, 13.1 miles (21.1 km) run, such as the Half Ironman)
  • Ultra Distance – (2.4 miles (3.9 km) swim, 112 miles (180 km) ride, and a full marathon: 26.2 miles (42.2 km) run)
Jonny Brownlee

Jonny Brownlee

The most notorious Ultra Distance is the Ironman triathlon.

Triathletes are hardened athletes who will usually have one or two strongest areas which they excel in. For instance British triathlete brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee perform exceedingly well in the final running element of triathlons as demonstrated in the London Olympics in 2012.

Triathlon clothing needs to be specially made to cater for the crossing over of events quickly. For instance, if the water is below a certain temperature then a wetsuit will be required. Triathlon wetsuits need to be of a lightweight but also insulating material and transition between events needs to be very fast so ease of removal is essential. Underneath the wetsuit the triathlete may wear a Lycra ‘base-layer’ suit or a tri-suit for cycling and running. A change of cycle shoes to running shoes will also need to take place, and in some cases triathlon shorts and/or top will be worn. Cycling helmets are also essential during this element of the race and of course goggles and caps for swimming and sunglasses if the weather is very bright for comfort.

The triathlon is a growing sport as it appeals to a variety of fitness fanatics and it combines the three most common sports, with cycling also increasing in popularity. Half marathons are also seeing a rise in applications with runs such as the Birmingham Half Marathon which is organised by Bupa increasing year on year.

Article by Simon Lucas.

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