What Is A Triathlon
We often hear about the triathlon, most especially the Ironman series, but do you know exactly what is a triathlon? The Greek words trei which means three and athlos which means contest, were combined to come up with the word – triathlon.
This sport consists of three endurance events that are completed in continuous and in sequential order. There are many variations of the triathlon, but the form that is gaining a big following worldwide is the series involving swimming, cycling and running. Those who participate in a triathlon are called, triathletes.
What is a Triathlon: The Beginning
The beginning of triathlon is attributed to an annual race held in France between 1920s and 1930s called les trios sports. The first modern triathlon consisting of swim-bike-run courses was conceived by Jack Johnstone together with Don Shanahan, who were members of San Diego Track Club in the United States. It was held on September 25, 1974 in Mission Bay, San Diego, California.
In 1978, the first long distance triathlon was held in Hawaii, and was aptly called Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon. Commander John Collins of the US Navy coined the word Ironman after he announced that whoever finishes the Hawaiian race first will be known as Ironman.
The Hawaiian Ironman was conceptualized in 1977 during the awards ceremony of the Oahu Perimeter Relay. The event combined three existing long endurance competitions in the islands of Hawaii: the 2.40 miles Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 115 miles Around Oahu Bike Race, and the 26.22 miles Honolulu Marathon.
What is a Triathlon: Important Race Information
The triathletes are categorized by age groups, and compete to come up with the fastest time to complete all three race courses. The overall completion time includes the time spent in the swimming event, cycling event and running event, plus the two transitions. Transition time is the time spent by the triathletes to change race courses: from swimming to cycling known as T1 and from cycling to running called T2. Transition areas serve as places to store the sports equipments such as bikes, performance apparel, and other gadgets and accessories needed by the triathletes in preparing for the succeeding race.
What is a Triathlon: Different Event Distances
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) and the USA Triathlon recognize the following event distances:
Sprint Distance – the popularity of this type is vastly gaining momentum in the US. It involves .47 miles (.75 kilometer) swimming, 12 miles (20 kilometers) cycling, and 3.10 miles (5 kilometers) running.
Olympic Distance – it is also known as Standard Distance or International Distance. It involves .93 miles (1.50 kilometers) swimming, 25 miles (40 kilometers) cycling, and 6.20 (10 kilometers) running.
Long Distance – the most popular is the Half Ironman or Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. It involves 1.20 miles (1.9 kilometers) swimming, 56 miles (90 kilometers) cycling, and 13.10 miles (21.10 kilometers) running.
Ultra Distance – the most popular is the Ironman Triathlon. It consists of 2.40 miles (3.80 kilometers) swimming, 110 miles (180 kilometers) cycling, and 26.20 miles (42.20 kilometers) running.
So what is a triathlon and why is it so popular? In its simplest dfinition, it is a sport that tests the endurance of the participants in three races – swimming, cycling and running. The toughest triathlete will have to clock in with the fastest overall time in all races including transition time. But to many, it is not just a race, but a passion of a lifetime!