Triathlon swimmers

Should I Start With A Sprint Triathlon Or An Olympic Triathlon?

There are three fundamental elements in a triathlon, swim, cycle, and run. Moreover, the same can greatly depend on a particular format.

Some formats are for high-intensity races, which are completed within an hour, then others are for entire day events which take 17 hours to complete.

A triathlon is a continuous event that includes swim, cycle and then runs. The distance of each leg will differ based on the format of the event you have participated in. 

The swimming part is the shortest leg in a triathlon, and you have to cross a short distance. This is usually ten to twenty times of the entire race time.

The swim is known as a mass start or wave start, and here the participants are sent in small groups.

It depends on the water temperature, and the distance you have to swim, the use of wetsuits might be banned.

These rules vary between the experienced competitors and based on ages. If you are a first-time triathlon participant, you have to know the basic points. 

First Triathlon: Sprint or Olympic?

If this is your first triathlon, then experts recommend you try sprint triathlon. This includes a 750-meter swim, twenty-kilometer bike then five-kilometer run. This is the shortest among the four types of triathlons out there, and as a beginner, you must start with sprint. However, just because you are a first-timer, a sprint will also seem tough. 

Once you are experienced enough, you can go to Olympics. For this one, the basic swim distance is 1.5 kilometers, a 40-kilometer cycle ride than a ten-kilometer run.

This is tougher than Sprint and not advisable for first-timers. If you watch a live game you will understand how participants do it and how hard it is. 

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In the case of a long course, you will find it tougher than the previous two. Here a participant has to go for a 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer cycle ride, then a 21.1-kilometer run. This type of triathlon requires a serious level of physical fitness and activity. 

Lastly, Ironman requires 3.8 kilometers of swimming, 180.2 kilometers of the cycle ride, and 42.2 km run. This is a full marathon and requires physical challenge and increased endurance. 

The Differences Between A Sprint Triathlon, Olympic Triathlon, Long Course Triathlon, And An Ironman 

There are several differences between sprint Triathlon, Olympic Triathlon, Long course Triathlon and Ironman. You have to prepare in a special way for each triathlon. If you are a beginner, you won’t be able to do the Ironman, long course, and olympic triathlon. For these, you need better physical abilities. Let’s check out the differences between the different triathlons. 

  • Sprint: This is the shortest distance triathlon and has been included in the international championship from 2010. The format of this is the half distance from the Olympic. If you are a beginner, you can start with this. You have to swim for 750 meters, 20 km in the cycle, then 5 km run. Experienced athletes can cover their tracks within an hour. If you are a beginner it will take time, as sprint is also not an easy triathlon. 
  • Olympic: The name itself will give you the Olympic games vibe. Triathlon was first introduced in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is the full version of Sprint where you have to swim 1500 meters, 40 km cycle ride, then 10 km run. The formats vary in different countries. For instance, in the 2012 Olympics, the leg was 43 km, and it was considered as an Olympic distance format. Also, Olympic is considered the standard triathlon. Elite and experienced athletes usually participate in this game. 
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For experienced athletes, Olympic events are known as draft legal and mass start. In the case of age group games, it’s common to have a large group of wave starts. 

  • Ironman: This triathlon was introduced in 1978, and this was for the fittest and toughest athletes. If you are one of the best runners, swimmer, or cyclist you can take part in the Ironman triathlon. For this, you have to go through three hard challenges. This includes 2.4 km of rough water swim, 112 km bike race, then you have to join the run. Whoever crosses the distance first, will be entitled, Ironman. 

However, the timing of this triathlon has been cut short from the previous one. Now you have to go for 42.2 km of run. 

  • Long course: The long course is another tough triathlon and its format was decided by the ITU. This was first introduced in the 1994 championship event. This is the triple distance from the olympic triathlon. Participants have to cross 4000 meters in swimming, 120 kilometers of cycling, then 30 km of run. This is longer than the Olympic events. Only elite athletes take part in this triathlon, and it takes a longer time to complete. The measured time is of 17 hours, and it can take longer than that as well. 
  • Half Ironman: This is the half marathon of the Ironman triathlon event. This is a less daunting option and half the distance of its namesake. As an athlete you have to swim for 1900 meters, 90.1 km of the cycle ride, then 21.1 km of run. This is also an exclusively non-drafting event. 
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Team Triathlon Events 

There are also team events that are normally held between teams. It’s a type of mixed relay and usually played in Olympics.

This was first introduced in 2003, along with triathlons. This event is completed with two men and two women. This is similar to Sprint distance, and it’s fast and full of action games. The race takes place in an audience-friendly location.

As a competitor, you have to swim for 300 meters. 6.6 km of cycling, and then 1.6 km of the run just before the teammate will tap the other for the relay. 

Most age groups and long course triathlons are non-drafting events. For this, you have to maintain a distance between the person in front and behind you. It should be 10 to 20 meters. 

On the other hand, draft legal are such as the ones from ITU and some Olympic games. Here the athlete has the advantage of working in a team. Also, the bikes you have to use have to be in similar conditions according to the UCI regulations.