Triathlon is one of the most gruelling sports in the world.
It is a multisport race which involves swimming, cycling and running in that order. However, the distances covered in each discipline are also standard race distances in their own right and that’s what makes triathlon such a spectacular event.
The distances can vary dramatically. A ‘sprint’ triathlon which is the shortest distance is a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km swim, while a ‘full’ triathlon is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and marathon length run of 42km.
The first modern swim/bike/run event to be called a triathlon was held at Mission Bay, San Diego on September 25th, 1974 and the first triathlon came to Britain in1983. Since then the sport’s popularity has grown and the time of writing the 2018 Ibiza ETU Multisport European Championships was taking place with two Bearhug athletes competing, Lee Smith and Tom Radley.
Triathlon takes place around the world, in some of the most spectacular settings. Abu Dhabi, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Tasmania, London, Beijing, Gold Coast and Chicago are just some of the recent locations of major triathlon events.
You will struggle to find another sport which allows its competitors to swim, cycle and run in these tremendous venues and that’s just one of the many reasons why triathlon has become so popular.
The 2016 Ironman World Championship is a good example of how triathlon has grown in popularity in recent years, Ironman races themselves have grown to a cult status within the sport as the pinnacle of endurance racing. The event which is an invitation only full distance triathlon was held in Kona, Hawaii, another awesome venue and attracted a record number of diverse athletes, over two thirds of the group were from outside the United States and USA Triathlon and $2.5 million was spent to promote the event.
However, seeing the sport in the Olympic Games could be another contributing factor to the sports growth. Triathlon first become an Olympic sport in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics which means we have seen triathlon just five times in the history of the Olympic Games.
The Olympic distance race consists of a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and a 10km run.
Having never featured in the Olympic Games, the opportunity for triathlon to be seen in-front of millions of viewers worldwide was key to the growth in popularity of the event. For many amateur swimmers, cyclists and runners, this would have been the first time they had seen triathlon televised.
Continued coverage of triathlon in the Olympic Games has certainly helped to bring the sport in-front of the eyes of new people. Witnessing Alistair Brownlee win the triathlon at the 2012 Olympic Games inspired many people, especially those who were already involved in running or cycling but wanted a new, fresh challenge.
215,000 people in England did at least one triathlon last year.
The variety in triathlon is very appealing and gives those who find competing in one sport a little tedious the opportunity to spread their wings and compete across three sports simultaneously. There is also a great sense of community within the sport and the mutual respect that occurs between athletes for their respecting achievements. There are currently 700 triathlon clubs across the UK.
With the 2020 Olympic Games around the corner the growth is set to continue.