What Is a Triathlon?


If you have run in a marathon (26.2 miles) or done any other intense workout and desire for a greater challenge, a triathlon might be what you are looking for. This event is like a super-marathon, adding in swimming and cycling.

The Facts

  • A triathlon is an athletic event for well-conditioned athletes who want to go the extra mile in their fitness life. The event consists of three parts: swimming, running and cycling.


  • People who participate in this event are referred to as "triathletes." They will start with the sprint version, which is swimming half a mile, cycling 12.4 miles and then running 3.1 miles. As the triathlete gets stronger, he can move on to the Olympic event (known as the international or standard: .93-mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2-mile run). Next is the half-ironman, and finally the peak of all races, the Ironman. At the Ironman event, triathletes must swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and complete the event by running a marathon.


  • The triathlon will test a person's endurance and speed, along with their ability to overcome the mental fact that it will be brutal physical undertaking. Consider hiring a personal trainer several months in advance of the triathlon and get a physical from your doctor before attempting one.


  • This sporting event emerged into history when a group of friends in Mission Bay, California gathered together for fitness training. Led by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, the first Mission Bay Triathlon took place on Sept. 25, 1974. Forty-six athletes participated in the first triathlon.

Time Frame

  • After the successful triathlon in California, time frames began developing for the event in Hawaii. In 1978, Hawaii hosted The Honolulu Marathon, which evolved into the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. There were 15 triathletes who challenged the event, but only 12 completed it. ABC's Wide World of Sports gave the Hawaii Ironman coverage in 1982 as 580 triathletes participated in the event. In 2009, there are thousands of triathletes competing in almost every major city in the U.S.

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