Distances in the triathlon

The triathlon is a multisport endurance race consisting of swimming, bicycling, and running over various distances.

It became an official Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The most common triathlon combination consists of the dswimming, cycling and running disciplines, but there are many variants such as duathlon (running-cycling-running), Aquabike (swimming and cycling) or Aquathlon (swim and run).

The equipment for a triathlon includes a trisuit (or triathlon jumpsuit) and cycling and running shoes for running. You may also need a wetsuit for swimming

The International Triathlon Union (now known as World Triathlonl) was founded in 1989 as the international governing body for the sport, with the primary goal of including triathlon on the Olympic programme.

This goal was achieved in 2000, when it was added to the Summer Olympics.

 Kristian Blummenfelt holds the IRONMAN world record with a time of 7 hours, 21 minutes and 12 seconds, while Yvonne van Vlerken holds the women's long distance record with 10 finish lines in less than 9 hours.

If you want to get started in the sport of Triathlon, you will see that there are many different distances, which is why we want to help you differentiate them in order to choose the one that best suits your conditions.

What is a triathlon?

Triathlon is a mix of 3 sports (swimming, cycling, and running) and triathlon distances vary.

In addition, there are various modalities depending on the sports that are performed.

Triathlon Modalities


The duathlon consists of running, cycling and running. There are usually various distances but the most common are the sprint and the Olympic.

Duathlon and triathlon cross

The duathlon and triathlon disciplines are similar to road events, but with the difference that cycling is done with MTB and running is Trail Running.


This modality is becoming more and more fashionable and is perfect for swimmers and runners who do not like cycling.

It consists of a 1km swim and a 5km run.


This is another new modality that is becoming more and more accepted among triathletes.

It consists of swimming to later finish with the bicycle, omitting the running segment. Their distances are MD and LD

Winter triathlon

It is a modality that is carried out only in the winter months. Running coast, mountain biking and cross-country skiing to finish the test.

What are the distances of a triathlon?

In this article we take a look at the most common triathlon distances that exist in this sport. Some of the most famous triathlon events in the world, such as the case of the IRONMAN World Championship or the World Series Grand Final have different distances in each segment.

That is why depending on the type of competition in which you participate you will have to complete different distances in swimming, cycling and running.

This table shows the most common distances.

Distance Swimming Cycling Race on foot
Super sprint 250 to 500 m 6,5 to 13 km 1,7 to 3,5 km
Sprint 750 m 20 km 5 km
Shorts 900 m 40 km 10 km
PTO 2.000 m 80 km 18 km
Olympic 1.500 m 40 km 10 km
Media 1.900 to 3.000 m 80 to 90 km 20 to 21 km
Long 1.000 to 4.000 m 100 to 200 km 10 to 42,2 km
Ironman 3.8 km 180 km 42.195 km


Thanks to their shorter distance, the Supersprints are ideal for those who want to debut in this sport.

Although they are usually held in events with more distances, sometimes you can find events that are held in a pool (16 lengths of a 25 meter pool) before heading to the cycling segment.

Distances: from 250 to 500 meters of swimming, 6 to 13 kilometers of cycling and 1,7 to 3,5 kilometers of running

In these types of distances there is usually no need to wear a wetsuit.


The sprint distance is made up of 750 meters of swimming, 20 km of cycling and 5 km of running.

To debut in this distance we advise you to already have accumulated between 6 and 8 months of training of the three disciplines and be able to separately complete the union of two of the three segments (swim-bike, bike-race).

One piece of advice we give you is to review the regulations of the test you want to take, given that on many occasions a maximum time is established to carry out the swimming and/or cycling segment.


This is a competition that is increasingly seen in tests. It is located between the sprint and the standard or Olympic and is ideal to get the sensations and prepare the jump to the distance that is disputed in the Olympic Games.

Their distances are usually 900 meters of swimming, 40 kilometers of cycling and 10 kilometers of running although there are variations depending on the competition


The Olympic triathlon consists of a 1,5km swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

Finishing an Olympic triathlon can take you between  two and a half hours and 3 hours so you must have a good aerobic endurance base worked and adjust your nutrition and hydration for the effort (this is also trained).

To face this distance, our recommendation is that you have accumulated experience in at least 2 or 3 sprint distance triathlons and some Short.

In addition, it is important that you have done several races of 10Km, but also after riding a bike at a high intensity, since your legs accumulate fatigue and the sensations are very different.

Just like in sprint distance, you can find cut times for the different segments or for the total of the test, so you must be consistent with your level and physical form to do it.

It is always better to enjoy a shorter test and want to continue progressing, than to be disappointed in the first experience for not being a realistic challenge.

Half-Ironman / Ironman 70.3

The Ironman 70.3, also known as half, middle distance o half Ironman, is an increasingly fashionable challenge among triathletes.

In the calendar there are more and more tests of this type.

Its distance is half that of the IRONMAN. 1.900 meters of swimming, 90 kilometers of cycling and 21 kilometers of run on foot

70.3 means the total distance traveled in miles during the entire event.


IRONMAN is a brand (in capital letters), but other independent companies organize iron distance (or full distance) events in the so-called Ironman distance.

Their distances are 3.800 meters of swimming, 180 kilometers of cycling and 42 kilometers of running.

The variety of fastest times over this distance settled in the IRONMAN Cozumel for Kristian Blummenflet and by Chrissie Wellington at Challenge Roth.

Other distances to consider

PTO distance

The PTO has entered the world of triathlon with great force and its competitions are held with a distance slightly less than a medium distance triathlon.

This is the distance that is called PTO : 2 km of swimming, 80 km of cycling and 18 km of running.

ultra triathlon

“Ultra” triathlon distances include double, triple and quadruple iron distance events, up to one deca and even double deca.

The distances of the Ultra triathlon are the following:

  • The first day you swim 10 kilometers (6,2 miles) and then you do 144,8 kilometers of cycling (90 miles).
  • On the second day, they cycle for 273,5 kilometers (170 miles).
  • On the third and final day, participants do 84,3 kilometers (52,4 miles)

Super League Triathlon

triathlon distance Super League is a new, exciting and super short race format.

Many of the best short distance triathletes from around the world, including Olympic medalists and champions from around the world, compete in this type of event.

Slt Arena Games

The big difference from the SLT Arena Games is that you swim in a pool, ride a roller bike, and run on a treadmill.

In addition, the race takes place on the virtual platform Zwift, so viewers also have the opportunity to see their avatars in direct competition with the Zwift interface.

We recommend reading this article  What distance do I choose to debut in triathlon?

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