Triathlon Order of Events – What Are They? Olympic, Sprint & Ironman
Standard triathlon events involve three main sports timed over various distances. These include swimming, cycling, and running.
Competitors start with swimming, followed by cycling and running. While this order can sometimes change, this is the most common triathlon order of events.
Between each of these events, you have a transition which is commonly known as the fourth discipline. The first transition between swimming and biking is called T1, and the transition between cycling and running is known as T2.
While the order is usually the same, the distances of a triathlon can vary. Depending on what event you choose will depend on the length of each discipline.
Triathlon Order and Distance – What Are They?
Distances of a triathlon range from sprint to Ironman, so depending on the event you choose, it will vary in length. Triathlon offers multiple events to cater to both novice and elite triathletes.
Below is the order of each event and distance:
Sprint distance triathlon: 750m/20km/5km
Standard distance triathlon: 1500m/40km/10km
Middle distance triathlon: 2.5km/80km/20k
Half Ironman distance triathlon: 1.9km/90km/21.1km
Long distance triathlon: 4km/120km/30km
Ironman distance triathlon: 3.8km/180km/42km
Each event above include the two transitions, as we discussed. The length of the first transition can vary, especially if the first swim is in the sea. That means you may have to run 100-400m to get to the first transition (bike transition – T1).
While these are the standard distances noted by the governing body, other events outside of this sometimes change the order during a triathlon.
Competitions like the Reverse Triathlon in New Zealand give triathletes a new and exciting event. They take the typical order of events and reverse them. Making the competition much more exciting and close after the first run.
You can see below the order and distances of each triathlon distance they put on.
Short Reverse Triathlon: 1.6km run, 6km bike, 100m swim
Medium Reverse Triathlon: 3.2km run, 12km bike, 300m swim
Long Reverse Triathlon: 4.8km run, 19km bike, 400m swim
Other events like the Pasadena Triathlon offer a similar distance and structure, and there are many more reverse events around the world.
Since these events reverse the order of disciplines, you will often find the swim located in a pool rather than the ocean or lake. Having more than a few hundred people mass starting in an indoor pool doesn’t work, so instead, the disciplines are back to front.
These types of events are great for both the novice and experienced triathlete, providing a different way to test your form before your next major event.
What Are The Four Common Triathlon Distances?
The four most common triathlon distances are the Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman, and Ironman Distances. With Ironman being one of the most popular events on the calendar.
Half Ironman has otherwise grown in popularity as people use the events to build up to the full distance, making it the second most common distance. Following that, Olympic and sprint events are the next most common triathlon distances.
History of Triathlon – When did it Start?
The history of triathlon is dated back to the 1970s and started through the San Diego Track Club.
Designed to be an alternative to track racing. The first event was held on September 25, 1974, by Don Shanahan and Jack Johnstone.
The San Diego Track Club became the main sponsor of the event, which had competitors racing over 10 km running, 8 km cycling, and 500 m swimming.
The sport was then allowed to be featured in the Olympics, with triathlon making its debut in Sydney 2000. That made triathlon one of the sports that gained the quickest entry into the Olympics ever.
Over the next decade, the sport of triathlon exploded in popularity. Soon after, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded, and the first official world championships took place in Avignon, France in 1989. Making Mark Allen and Erin Baker the first-ever official World champions in triathlon.