This is part one in a series of Tri Basics. 

We'll cover it all, choosing, buying, training, racing, eating, drinking, resting - the whole tri spectrum!

We start here, with a little explanation about what a triathlon consists of and the logistics of a race.


Triathlon: n.An athletic contest in which participants compete without stopping in three successive events, usually swimming, bicycling, and running.
There are 4 basic distances: 
  Sprint: 500m swim / 12 mile bike / 3.1 mile run 
  Olympic: 1500, swim / 40k bike / 10k run 
  ½ Ironman:  1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run 
  Ironman: 2.4 mile swim / 112 mile bike / 26.2 mile run 

There are generally some variations on sprint tri distances but the others are typically standard.

The order of events in triathlon is swim, bike, run. There are many multisport races that substitute different elements e.g kayak for a swim, or add more such as a trail run or mountain bike leg. Some adventure races carry on over multiple days and include orienteering and map skills. 

An XTERRA is an off road triathlon, consisting of the basic swim, bike, run  - but putting it all in the woods! So after the swim athletes complete a mountain bike leg and then a trail run. 

The governing body of the sport of triathlon is USA Triathlon. USAT is the sanctioning authority for most races, they have a detailed set of rules and regulations, the basics are listed here but for more specific information check out USAT requires a one day license to be purchased for each USAT sanctioned race ($10), if you are planning to race 4 or more times in a year you are best off buying an annual license ($40). 1 day licenses can be purchased when you register for your race and annual licenses can be attained through USAT. 

USAT determines race categories. Most folks race as ‘age groupers’ this simply means you race against other people who are the same age and gender as you are. Generally the age breakdown is 19 and under, 20 – 24, 25 – 29, 30 – 34, and so on. To make it really confusing, USAT considers your age to be whatever age you’ll be during each calendar year. For example, if you’re going to be 36 on July 1st, you race as a 36 year-old all calendar year whether the race is before or after your birthday. There are sometimes other catgories such as First Timers, Athenas (women over 150 lbs) & Clydesdales (men over 200 lbs).

Next time... The rules!


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