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What is Triathlon?

The first recorded triathlon was in California on September 24, 1974. It was organised by the San Diego Track and Field Club at Mission Bay and was created as an alternative to the rigors of athletic training on the track. Since this, Triathlon has developed into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and one that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.

Triathlon is an activity that combines swimming, cycling, and running in one event. The Olympic, or “standard” distance in triathlon is a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike, and 10 kilometre run.

There are many variations of a Triathlon or multisport event, the table below gives a good overview of the various types of events and distances:





Enticer / Novice

Swim – less than 750m

Ride – less than 20km

Run – less than 5km


Swim – 750m

Ride – 20km

Run – 5km

Olympic or Classic

Swim – 1500m

Ride – 40km

Run – 10km

Long Course / Half Iron Distance

Swim – between 2500 and 3800m

Ride – between 80km and 120km

Run – between 20km and 30km

Iron Distance

Swim – 3800m

Ride – 180km

Run – 42km


Enticer / Novice

Run – less than 5km

Ride – less than 30km

Run – less than 5km

Sprint Distance

Run – 5km

Ride – 30km

Run – 5km

Standard Distance

Run – 10km

Ride – 40km

Run – 5km

Long Course

Run – 10km

Ride – 60km

Run – 10km


Various Distances

Swim - run


Swim – run - swim

Triathlons can be completed as an individual event, or a team event.

Triathlons are organised through independent events organisers, state triathlon associations and clubs. They are run at local, state, national and international levels. Triathlon events in Australia range from enticer or novice events right through to ITU World Championship races.

One reason why Triathlon is so appealing to all is because of its unique “age group” concept that is built into the very fabric of the sport. All Triathlon events are traditionally divided into 5 year age categories, so you will take part in the same race as your friends, your colleagues and your family regardless of their age and ability.

Triathlon truly is a proud sport for all. Have a read of the Triathlon Pathway to see how you can get involved.


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