What Are the Distances in a Triathlon?


The triathlon, a race consisting of swimming, bicycling and running components, is one of the most grueling competitions in modern sports. It was pioneered in France in the 1920s, was popularized in America in the 1970s and became an Olympic sport in the 2000 Sydney games. There are many variations of the triathlon, each with its own set of distances.


  • Olympic distances are the international standards for triathlon races. An Olympic, or standard, triathlon includes a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) swim, 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) bike ride and 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run.


  • The Ironman race is perhaps the most famous variant of the triathlon, popularized by championships held every year in Hawaii. Also known as a "long-distance" or "full" triathlon, the Ironman consists of a 3.8-kilometer (2.4-mile) swim, 180-kilometer (112-mile) bike ride and 42.2-kilometer (26.2-mile) run.


  • The Half-Triathlon, or "Ironman 70.3" (so-named because of the total distance of the race), consists of a 1.9-kilometer (1.2-mile) swim, 90-kilometer (56-mile) bike ride and 21.1-kilometer (13.1-mile) run.


  • The Sprint distance is much shorter than other variants, making it accessible to a much larger group of athletes. It consists of a 0.5-kilometer (750-meter) swim, 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) bike ride and 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.

ITU Long-Distance

  • The International Triathlon Union, the group responsible for standardizing the Olympic distance, also created a standard long-distance race. It consists of a 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) swim, 80-kilometer (49.6-mile) bike ride and 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) run.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Baird
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