Popular Triathlon Events You Must Know

Popular triathlon events all around the world

Participating in triathlon events demands an excellent combination of physical skills, speed, and endurance. However, each event will particularly require different levels of those aspects. This fact can be seen in the different distance of the race with a road race, bike tour, and swim meet. By looking at the name of the event, you may have a grasp of its features. Thus, in this article, we are going to find out the different types of triathlon events and look at some typical examples of those events in various scales.

We all know that triathlons events are not organized with the same features. Races are divided into four main types, and with different courses and culture, each type is a unique challenge. I will now list out the types in descending order of race distance.

Ironman – 3.8 km swimming, 180km biking and 42.2 km running  

Due to the long distance, this event attracts most of the experienced triathletes with a high level of endurance. The majority of Ironman events occurs within 17 hours. Also, each part has different time strain. Specifically, the time limit for swimming, biking and running are 2 hours 20 minutes, 8 hours 10 minutes and 6 hours 30 minutes respectively. Today, the most popular public Ironman event is undoubtedly the world-scale event held yearly in Hawaii. You guess it right, the Ironman World Championships. As you may know, the most recent world championship event for ironman witnessed the victory of Jan Frodeno of Germany and Daniela Ryf of Switzerland.

Ironman World Championship

In addition to the Ironman World Championships that take place annually in Hawai, other famous Ironman series have gained the recognition in Europe, USA, Canada, Latin America and Oceania. These triathlon events also offer the qualification for the Ironman World Championship via a point ranking system. 50 males and 35 females with the highest score in the final placement in Ironman and Ironman 70.3 earn their way to the world championships. Other Ironman events that also offer the entry to the superior world race are Ironman South Africa, Ironman Malaysia, and Ironman Taiwan.

Half Ironman a.k.a the Ironman 70.3 –1.9 km swimming, 90 km biking, and 21.1 km running

The name tells everything, to figure out the race distance of the Half Ironman, simply take a half of that of Ironman. This triathlon event is organized by the World Triathlon Corporation annually. And more importantly, the candidates that qualify for this event in 12 months before the world championship get the entry to the world race. The average amount of time to finish the Half Ironman is about 8 hours and 30 minutes.

Half Ironman a.k.a Ironman 70.3 World Championship

From 2006 to 2010, this event took place in Clearwater, Florida, USA. In 2011, the venue changed to Las Vegas. And from 2014 to the following years, the Half Ironman befalls in a different place each year. In 2016, Timothy Reed of Australia won the men’s championship, and Holly Lawrence from Great Britain won the women’s championship. Besides the World Championship race, half ironman competitions also take place in European, Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions.

Olympic – 1.5 km of swimming, 40 k.m of biking and 10 k.m of running

Triathlon made its debut for Summer Olympics at 2000 Games in Sydney. This event is administered by the International Triathlon Union. And since its debut, there has been an increase in the number of triathletes participated. Also, Great Britain and Switzerland seem to dominate this race by occupying the 1st rank in the top countries with most triathlon medals. The spots in the triathlon are under the administration of the National Olympic Committees, not the individual athletes.

Triathlon competitions at Summer Olympics

In addition to the triathlon Olympics, it would be a big miss if we outlook the Paratriathlon Summer Paralympics. This event is also under the governance of International Triathlon Union. However, it has recently been added to the Summer Paralympics in 2016, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As we all may know, Paratriathlon is for the athletes with physical disabilities. The race consists of 0.75 km swimming, 20km cycling and 5 km running.

Sprint – 0.75 km swimming, 20 km biking, and 5 km running

This triathlon event has half the Olympic distance. And the triathletes usually consider it as a short-distance triathlon event. The sprint events have been one of the most widely favored types of triathlons events throughout the world. And because of its enjoyable distance, there are a larger number of participants in this event than the one as mentioned above.. The sprint also has been gaining increasing popularity, mostly among the beginners and novice athletes.

Sprint a.k.a 5150 triathlon

Another popular type of triathlon is super sprint, which has half of distance as compared to the sprint. Training for sprint and super sprint is also less demanding that for other professional triathlon events. But by “less demanding” I don’t mean that training for sprint and super sprint is ever easy. In fact, you may still encounter rigorous physical exercises to improve the endurance. Most of the exercises focus on enhancing cardiovascular capabilities and developing muscles.

There are also many other types of triathlon events, which include kids of steel, novice, 3-9-3, ITU Long Distance O2 and O3. However, these events are more common at national and regional levels. It is now very easy to find out a triathlon event; you can even have a list of events near you. Most triathlon events are available at all 3 scales – national, regional and international. The most popular events are:

  • Hawaii Ironman world Championship at Kona, Hawaii
  • Nice Triathlon in Nice, France
  • Enduroman Arch to Arc, from London to Paris
  • Wildflower in Lake Santonio, Central Coast of California
  • Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series in the USA
  • World Triathlon Corporation’s 5150 Series in the USA
  • Grand Prix de Triathlon in French


Above are the most common types of triathlon events all over the world. Despite the scale, some events have more favor by the triathletes than others. Among all the events mentioned, what is your most favorite? Strongly hope my article can give some background knowledge on triathlon events. Thank you for reading.


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