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What is Triathlon?

Triathlon is a multi-discipline sport consisting of swimming, cycling and running.

Triathlon is a great sport to keep active, and by taking on the three elements of swimming, cycling and running you can keep training fun and varied too!

There’s opportunities for all ability levels and ambitions:

New to the sport:

  • GO TRI events and training sessions are the perfect way to taste the triathlon experience, get active and have fun! Find an event near you here.

Regular participants:

  • Find an event near you here.
  • Join a club, it’s a great way to meet new people and progress your training. You can search for British Triathlon affiliated clubs here.

Compete with the best:

  • Age-group triathlon offer the opportunity for anyone between 16-80+ to represent Great Britain at events across the world. Find out more about the Age-Group triathlon and how to qualify here.
  • Talented youngsters can compete in the Youth and Junior Super Series, and trial to be selected for their regional academy squad. Contact your regional head coach to find out more.

Find out more about the different elements of a triathlon race:

Course Distances:

There are a variety of accepted triathlon race distances:

TriStar, Youth and Junior Distances

  • TriStar Start (8 years old): 50m (swim), 800m (grass cycle), 600m (run)
  • TriStar 1 (9-10 years old): 150m (swim), 2km (grass  cycle), 1,200m (run)
  • TriStar 2 (11-12 years old): 200m (swim), 4km (grass cycle), 1,800m (run)
  • TriStar 3 (13-14 years old): 300m (swim), 6km (grass cycle), 2,400m (run)
  • Youth (15-16 years old) can compete up to sprint distance: 400m (swim), 10km (bike), 2.5km (run)
  • Junior (17-18 years old) can compete up to standard distance: 1500m (swim), 40km (bike), 10km (run)
  • Junior (19 years old) can compete up to middle distance: 1.9km (swim), 90km (bike), 21km (run)

Adult Distances

  • GO TRI distances vary depending on the venue
  • Super sprint distance: 400m (swim), 10km (bike), 2.5km (run)
  • Sprint distance: 750m (swim), 20km (bike), 5km (run)
  • Standard (Olympic) distance: 1500m (swim), 40km (bike), 10km (run)
  • 70.3/middle/half-Ironman distance: 1.9km (swim), 90km (bike), 21km (run)
  • Full/long/Ironman distance: 3.8km (swim), 180km (bike), 42km (run) - Ironman is a long-distance triathlon organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).

Duathlon and Aquathlon Distances

The common event distances for duathlon and aquathlon events are listed below:


  • Sprint duathlon distance: 5km (run), 20km (bike), 2.5km (run)
  • Standard duathlon distance: 10km (run), 40km (bike), 5km (run)


  • Pool-based aquathlon distance: 400m (swim), 5km (run)
  • Open water aquathlon distance: 750m (swim), 5km (run)
  • Open water aqauthlon long distance: 1.5km (swim), 10km (run)

Triathlon Disciplines

Find out more about the swim, bike, run and transition:


The swim will take place in a swimming pool or open water, such as a lake or the sea, and if you’re taking part in an open water event you will need a wetsuit. Many local triathlon clubs have access to a lake where you can practice.

The swim start will be in waves, with times based on your predicted swim time or age. You can do either front crawl or breast stroke in the event, whichever you prefer.


Helmets are compulsory for all races; even the elite stars wear them.

A bike is an essential bit of kit, but as long as it's been serviced and road worthy you can use it. Most races are on roads open to other traffic. If you're nervous or new to cycling, it would be useful to practice riding your bike on quiet roads until you have built up your confidence.

The bike route on your race will be signposted and have officials to help direct you. However, it's always useful to check the competitor information to check the route before the race.


Shoes are the most important part of your running equipment, and it is worth making sure your trainers fit and are comfortable.

Running after the bike can be a little different, but don't panic; it will get easier as you continue to run. There are usually drinks stations on the run route, and again the route will be signposted and have officials.

If you need to improve your running your local triathlon club will have sessions and coaching available or try a GO TRI training session near you.


This is often called the fourth discipline in triathlon for those at the top of the sport. However for many people transition is simply where all your swim-to-bike and bike-to-run kit is kept during the race. You'll be given a race number which you'll need to wear on the bike and run, and sometimes a timing chip to time you from start to finish.

You'll need to rack your bike and layout your kit before the race starts.

Your helmet must be fastened before you move your bike and cannot be removed until the bike is racked again. Marshals and a official will be in transition and can answer any questions you might have.

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