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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Racing Triathlon for You

When many people new to our sport think of triathlon they immediately think of the big Kahuna, Ironman. They may even get more specific and think of what the biggest race in the sport might be, the Ironman World Championship held each year in Kona, HI. Although even that race has changed in the past year, and is now split between Kona, HI and Nice, France with men and women racing in separate alternating locations each year. But there are many other choices, for someone new to the sport and just starting out, or for the experienced athlete who may be looking for a different challenge. There are also many other opportunities around the U.S. and around the world beyond Ironman races. Many multisport race companies exist and provide a wonderful experience, especially for the triathlete just starting out. In the Mid-Atlantic region where I live there are two excellent multisport companies; Kenetic Multisports and Rev 3 Triathlon. Both these organizations run great races that are fun for everyone involved!

There are also different distances of triathlon racing, so let’s get into those. Here are the four most common triathlon racing distances:


Sprint distance races are the perfect race for someone new to triathlon. If you own or rent the fundamental equipment; swim gear (you may need to rent a triathlon specific wet suit depending on water temperature – more on that in the next BLOG), a bike and running shoes, your close to being good to go. The Sprint distance race involves a 750-meter (.465 mile) swim, a 20-kilometer (12.5 mile) bike ride, and a 5Km (3.1 mile) run. I started my triathlon career in a sprint race, won 1st place in my age group and haven’t looked back since, I was hooked! The greatest experience with that race that both my wife and I felt was the sense of community that is foundational to triathlon. It is a true community!


Also commonly known as the “International” distance, this is, in fact, the triathlon distance raced in the Olympics. It is double that of a sprint distance race; 1.5Km (.93 mile) swim, 40Km (25 mile) bike, and a 10Km (6.2 mile) run.


This distance is often referred to as a half Ironman, or Ironman 70.3, or just 70.3 race. It is half the distance of a full distance triathlon race. Something to remember is that “Ironman” is a brand and there are many other half and full distance races beyond the ironman brand. A 70.3 distance race consists of a 1.9Km (1.2 mile) swim, a 90Km (56 mile) bike, and a 21.1Km (13.1 mile) run.


The most common long-distance triathlon is the full. It is an epic race requiring months, or possibly years of committed training to complete. The full triathlon consists of a 3.8Km (2.4 mile) swim, a 180.2Km (112 mile) bike and a full marathon run – 42.2Km (26.2 mile). Like the half distance triathlon, you will many times hear people refer to the full distance as an Ironman race.

There are many options available and more opportunities every year! Many race venues hold kid specific triathlon fun races, which is a wonderful way to involve children in our sport! There are also newer and shorter races known as “super-sprints” or “micro-sprints” that have varying shorter distances, but common might be a swim of .2 miles, a bike of 8 miles, and a run of 2 miles.

No matter your race, location or distance choice, Transform Tri Coaching would love to be part of your journey! Our coaching and training plans will help you build the confidence and fitness to cross the finish line with strength at your next race. Contact us to Ignite Your Potential! 

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