Get out and Tri! Part 1: The Distances

Hello blogging world!  Today airplanesandtreadmills welcomes our first guest blogger!  My dear friend, Matt Cantrell, will be joining us today and in some upcoming blogs to introduce you guys to the world of triathlons.

Matt was one of my running angels during my marathon by running almost half of the race with me!!

Matt has raced in over 16 tris (half ironman, olympic & sprints) and is a marathon finisher!! Matt’s PR (personal record): half iron man 5:04, olympic tri 2:14, sprint tri: 1:04.

Well enough introductions, let’s get to the real reason you are reading this post… This post has been divided into 5 different sections about the various distances and types of triathlons.

*Note: the average cost is only a calculation of the race entry fee.  Actual total cost will vary greatly depending the equipment and gear you choose to buy and any possible traveling fees you may have.


Distances: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run

Average Cost: about $500

Possible Total Cost: (Janelle speaking)  A few years ago my cousin completed an Ironman, here is a look at what he spent:

Race Entry Fee: $500

New bike: $2500

Cycling apparel: $400+

Running shoes/apparel: $400+

Wetsuit/swim gear: $400+

Pool/Gym fees: $30/month

Travel (flight + hotel): $2000 

This is not counting the huge of amounts of gatorade and other nutrition you will need as your train and throughout your race.  

Obviously, this is just an example and you may actually spend less or more.  Also, note that once you invest in good quality equipment and gear it will last you for awhile and total costs for future races would be much cheaper.

Background: The most commonly referenced triathlon event. The World Championship in Kona, Hawaii every October is the most famous version of this race with incredible stories of endurance occurring every year. One of the most remarkable images that has inspired many to get their start in triathlons was Julie Moss crawling across the finish line as her body was shutting down in the 1982 race.

The Ironman Name: Ironman is both a brand and a term for a distance of race. The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) owns the Ironman brand and puts on some 20+ Full Ironman events each year, all with qualifying spots to the World Championship in Kona. WTC is not the only company that puts on Ironman distance events and there are several different options around the world to choose from.


Half Ironman or Long Course Triathlon 

Distances: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run ~ half the distance of an Ironman

Average Cost: $200+

Background: The half ironman is a distance that is growing in popularity around the world. WTC owns a large number of events around the world at this distance as well, and conducts a world championship in Las Vegas in September. Rev3 is another very popular long course triathlon brand.


Olympic Distance Triathlon

(credit: sticks with it)

Distances: The distances are expressed in kilometers due to its strong international ties; 1.5 K swim (about .9 mile swim), 40 K bike (24 mile bike), and 10 K run(6.2 mile run)

Average Costs: typically $70+

Background: This distance is used for Olympic competition and is a very popular distance for beginner triathletes. The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has conducted a series of races around the world for several years. This series is home to some of the fastest athletes in the world, and some very large paychecks for the winners. For beginners it offers a stiff challenge without requiring a huge time commitment.

Find an olympic tri:

Sprint Distance Triathlon

Distance: Distances widely vary, but are typically not more than .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run

Average Cost: Costs for these events can range from $15 – $70

Background: The sprint distance is a great starting place for almost all triathletes. The distance is very manageable without a ton of training, the venues and race atmospheres are typically very low-key and welcoming.

Find a sprint tri:

Off Road Triathlon

Distances:  Distances are typically similar to olympic distance events

Average Cost: about $60 – $100

Background:  Off road tris are a recently growing trend in the triathlon world. XTERRA is a brand of events that conduct a world championship in Hawaii like the Ironman, but provide qualifying events around the world. Format to an on road triathlon is very similar to traditional tris but with the exception of a fairly technical mountain bike course and trail run.


One response to “Get out and Tri! Part 1: The Distances

  1. Pingback: Get out and Tri! Part 2: Equipment & Gear « airplanesandtreadmills

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