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What are the different triathlon distances? We cover the basics to help you choose the right one for you

A triathlon is a sports event that rewards your grit, stamina, and endurance. It is a comprehensive competition which includes swimming, cycling, and running. A triathlon is obviously challenging, but you can do well with proper training and a positive mentality.

When you hear triathlon, you might think of mass swims and endurance professionals racing in a full distance triathlon – Ironman – which involves a 2.4 mile swim and 112-mile bike ride before culminating in a 26.2 marathon run. It is a common misconception that is all triathlons can be.

In fact, there are many different triathlon distances, with most of them being very beginner-friendly.

An important factor that determines its difficulty is the distance to be covered. Knowing the distance implications of various triathlons helps you choose the right one for yourself and prepare for it accordingly. Let us look at different triathlon distances.

Super sprint

Super sprint triathlon is a shorter distance sprint triathlon. This distance event usually covers a total distance usually of about 8 miles (3 km). It is perfect for those who want a taste of what triathlon is all about.  The distance breakup can vary greatly in this distance but is usually is 300 to 500 m of swimming, 10 km (6.2 miles) of cycling, and 2-3 miles of running. Despite being considered a beginner’s triathlon because of the short distance, it can be just as tough for veterans that want to see their max speed. 

Sprint

For beginners who have some previous experience and want to take it up a notch, a sprint triathlon is a logical progression after a super sprint. This is one of the most popular distances for triathlons. This distance can vary greatly as well. So be sure to check the specifics when researching triathlons in your area. A sprint triathlon is usually about a total of 15-25 miles. An example of a sprint triathlon distance is a 500m Swim, 14.5 mile Bike, 5 Km Run.

Taking part in a sprint triathlon is a great way to check how your training is going when you are training for a longer distance. Participating in a sprint 6-4 months before an Olympic or Half Distance is a great way to practice and test your race tactics.

Standard/International/Quarter/ Olympic

The name gives away the increased difficulty that comes with this triathlon. This event distance took on the name Olympic after triathlon joined the Olympic Games in 2000. With an overall distance of around 32 miles (51.5 km), this triathlon requires you to exhibit a higher endurance level. It comprises 1500 m (0.9 mile) of swimming, 40 km (24.8 miles) of cycling, followed by 10 km (6.2 miles) of running. 

Training for an Olympic takes significantly more time and planning. There are usually race cut off times at these events, meaning knowing your pace is very important.

Half Distance/ 70.3

Half distance triathlons have become increasingly popular over the years. This 70.3 mile-long strenuous physical course involves covering 1930 m (1.2 miles) in water, 90 km (56 miles) on the bike, and 21 km (13.1 miles) on foot.

Racing a half distance is very obtainable with a structured training program. Half distances can take up to 8.5 hours to complete. Athletes racing in these longer distance events should also pay attention to on-course support and have a nutrition plan. A 70.3 distance is great for athletes that want to focus on endurance over speed. Just like with moving up from a sprint to Olympic, racing a half distance as part of your full distance training is a great idea.

Full Distance

If half distance is not enough for you, you can double the distance by participating in a full distance triathlon. This is commonly associated with the Ironman brand but there are tons of awesome events that offer a full distance triathlon. Covering 140.6 miles (a little over 226 km), a full iron triathlon is extremely tough, even for veterans. It requires you to swim for 3900 m (2.4 miles), cycle for 180 km (112 miles), and run for 42.2 km (26.2 miles).

Athletes racing the 140.6 distance should invest in more specialized equipment like a triathlon bike and potentially a wetsuit. The training regimen for a full distance is much longer and requires a dedicated schedule.

Ultra

From double triathlon to decuple triathlon, every version that exceeds full distance triathlon falls in the ultra category. These triathlons can stretch over a number of days. The most-demanding forms of triathlon fall in this group.

These distances can be seen as milestones for you to reach over your triathlon career. Choosing the most suitable distance, as per your ability and experience, can prove crucial to how you perform in the competition. Make sure to pick a distance that doesn’t push you too much and that you can enjoy it.

Infographic showing the different triathlon distance that are explained within the blog

A record number of triathletes, more than 1800, registered for The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas

A record number of triathletes registered for the 2019 Kerrville Triathlon, including this female sprint finisher posting in front of the Kerrville Tri sign.

Congrats to all the 2019 Kerrville Tri finishers!

More than 4000 triathletes and their friends and family traveled to Kerrville, Texas, for the 9th annual Kerrville Triathlon Festival. A record number of triathletes, more than 1800, (most in event history) registered for the Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas. Participants gave their all on a course highlighted by swimming in Nimitz Lake, cycling through the Texas Hill Country, and running along the Guadalupe River. Participants were treated to fajitas, cold beer, snacks, and an opportunity to recover in the refreshing waters of the Guadalupe River after crossing the finish line. Kerrville Tri also launched best pricing for 2020, which ends on Tuesday, Oct. 8th.

“This is my favorite race and the course is beautiful,” said Meredith Townley, who completed the quarter distance (3:22:07) on Sunday. “I love the hometown feel that Kerrville and the Hill Country provide and how everyone – vendors, sponsors, spectators, etc. – truly supports everyone else!” 

The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas

A record number of triathletes registered for the 2019 Kerrville Triathlon, including these triathletes floating the Guadalupe River in their Kerrville Tri floats!

Participants float the Guadalupe River after crossing the 2019 Kerrville Tri finish line!

The family-friendly Kerrville Triathlon Festival took place from Friday, September 27th, to Sunday, September 29th. It featured two days of triathlon action and a bustling two-day expo. Six different events were featured, sprint, quarter, half, aquabike, relays, and a kids fun run. The Debra Zapata Sprint distance, sprint relay, and kids fun run took place on Saturday. All other events, including the quarter and the half, took place on Sunday. Before the action began, participants, volunteers, and friends and family went to the annual Friday night Kerrville Tri Mixer. Inn of the Hills, the host hotel, hosted the Mixer and the expo and packet pick up. Grammy award-winning artist and Debra Zapata sprint participant Shawn Colvin sang Saturday’s national anthem.

“I love registering for and completing an affordable half distance triathlon in the Texas Hill Country,” said Michelle Bonathan, Kerrville Triathlon half distance open division female champion (5:22:50). “The support and energy from the spectators and volunteers were top-notch!”

Peter Murray (1:02:01), of Austin, Texas, won Saturday’s sprint event. Marla Briley (1:14:23), of Austin, Texas, won the female division. Sunday’s winners and their times follow: quarter – female winner, Jami O’Toole (2:34:38), male winner, Mark Saroni (2:03:20); half – female winner, Michelle Bonathan, male winner, Jack Cartwright (4:53:58). Results for Saturday and Sunday are available. 

Perks for record number of triathletes

A record number of triathletes registered for the 2019 Kerrville Triathlon, including these future triathletes at the free kids fun run.

The kids take off at the free kids fun run!

New for 2019, participants received a Kerrville Triathlon-branded float and recovered in the Guadalupe River after crossing the finish line. Athletes received a belt buckle finisher’s medal, customized shirt, and commemorative hat. They also received a reusable custom water bottle, personalized race bib, and swim cap. They enjoyed a free post-race meal including fajitas from H-E-B, fruit, snacks, and the ever-popular beer garden. The event also had professional timing and photography. A great volunteer crew, thousands of supportive spectators, and an electric finish line festival will showcase why the Kerrville Triathlon is one of the best triathlons in Texas. Photos can be found on the Kerrville Triathlon Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds in addition to the website.

The Kerrville Triathlon would like to thank sponsors H-E-B, City Limit Cycles, the City of Kerrville, Kerrville Fire Department, Kerrville Police Department, Kerr County Sheriff’s Department, Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Peterson Health, Jack and Adam’s Fredericksburg, SPIbelt, Peak Fitness, MO-RANCH, Hill Country Bicycle Works, Grape Juice, Mamacita’s, Camp Gladiator, and Gatorade.

The largest field in event history consists of triathletes from 17 different states

High Five Events concludes their 2019 triathlon season with the largest field in Kerrville Triathlon Festival history. More than 1800 athletes have registered for this beloved Hill Country event. The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas features a swim course in Nimitz Lake, bike course through the Texas Hill Country, and a run course along the Guadalupe River. The ninth annual Kerrville Triathlon Festival will take place on September 27-29, in Kerrville, Texas. The final price increase occurs tonight, Monday, September 23rd, at 11:59.

Image of custom float all Kerrville Triathlon participants will receive! They're part of the largest field in event history.“I’ve heard great things about Kerrville Triathlon, from it’s scenic course to the big party at the finish line festival,” said Bryan Deibel of Austin, Texas, who is registered for Saturday’s Debra Zapata Sprint. “I’m even more pumped to float the Guadalupe River after my sprint in my Kerrville Tri-branded float!”

Perks for Kerrville Triathlon participants

New for 2019, all participants will receive a Kerrville Triathlon-branded float so they can recover in the Guadalupe River near the finish line festival. Athletes will receive a belt buckle finisher’s medal, customized shirt, and commemorative trucker hat. They’ll also get a reusable custom water bottle, personalized race bib, and swim cap. Once they cross the finish line, triathletes can enjoy a free post-race meal including fajitas from H-E-B, fruit, snacks, beer garden, and an opportunity to float in the Guadalupe River. Professional timing and photography, a great volunteer crew, hundreds of supportive spectators, and an electric finish line festival will showcase why the Kerrville Triathlon is one of the best triathlons in Texas. 

“We’re excited about Kerrville Tri’s largest field ever and ready to welcome triathletes from all over to the Texas Hill Country,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “When you combine the three-day-long festival with the beauty of the Texas Hill Country you can see why Kerrville Tri is a true destination triathlon.”

Registration is still open

Current pricing for all events follows: Debra Zapata Sprint ($105), sprint aquabike ($105), sprint relay ($165), quarter ($155), quarter aquabike ($155), half ($245), half aquabike ($245), half relay ($295), kids fun run (free), Virtual Kerrville Triathlon, which can be associated with any distance ($45). 

The Debra Zapata Sprint distance triathlon, sprint aquabike, sprint relay, and kids fun run take place on Saturday, Sept. 28th. Quarter distance, quarter aquabike, half distance, half aquabike, and half relay will all happen on Sunday, Sept. 29th. Participants can pick up their packet at the Kerrville Triathlon Expo and Packet Pickup. The expo is located at the host hotel, Inn of the Hills. The expo and packet pickup, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, Sept. 27th, and Saturday, Sept. 28th. Participants can see the entire pricing structure and register on the website.

A couple of hundred spots remain as The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas nears sellout

Friends pose before the 2018 Kerrville Triathlon. The 2019 edition nears sellout.

Tell your friends to register before Kerrville Tri sells out!

Excitement for the 2019 Kerrville Triathlon Festival continues to build as registration numbers continue their historic climb. The beloved destination triathlon has a limited amount of spots remaining as it nears a sellout. Last year, more than 2000 triathletes and their friends and family traveled to the Texas Hill Country. The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas features a swim course in Nimitz Lake, bike course through the Texas Hill Country, and run course along the Guadalupe River. The 9th annual Kerrville Triathlon Festival will take place on September 27-29, in Kerrville, Texas.

“My wife and I both love Kerrville Tri, we’re racing and volunteering again this year,” said Mark Wignall, who has participated in the Kerrville Tri for the past three years. “The entire course is beautiful and it’s a short drive from Austin and San Antonio, making it the perfect destination event.”

Branded floats for all

New for 2019, all participants will receive a Kerrville Triathlon-branded float so they can recover in the Guadalupe River near the finish line festival. Athletes will receive a belt buckle finisher’s medal, customized shirt, and commemorative trucker hat. They’ll also get a reusable custom water bottle, personalized race bib, and swim cap. Once they cross the finish line, triathletes can enjoy a free post-race meal including fajitas from H-E-B, fruit, and snacks. They will also enjoy the beer garden and have an opportunity to float in the Guadalupe River. Kerrville Tri features professional timing and photography. Participants can draw energy from a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators. An electric finish line festival will showcase why the Kerrville Triathlon is one of the best triathlons in Texas. 

“An increasing number of triathletes are hearing what we’ve known for nearly a decade, Kerrville Tri is The Most Scenic Triathlon in Texas,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “When you combine the three-day-long festival with the beauty of the Texas Hill Country you can see why Kerrville Tri is a true destination triathlon.”

Limited amount of Kerrville Tri spots remain

Current pricing for all events follows: Debra Zapata Sprint ($105), sprint aquabike ($105), sprint relay ($165), quarter ($155), quarter aquabike ($155), half ($245), half aquabike ($245), half relay ($295), kids fun run (free), Virtual Kerrville Triathlon, which can be associated with any distance ($45). 

The Debra Zapata Sprint distance, sprint aquabike, sprint relay, and kids fun run take place on Saturday, Sept. 28th. Quarter distance, quarter aquabike, half distance, half aquabike, and half relay will all happen on Sunday, Sept. 29th. The Kerrville Triathlon Expo and Packet Pickup will take place at the host hotel, Inn of the Hills. The expo and packet pickup, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, Sept. 27th, and Saturday, Sept. 28th. Participants can see the entire pricing structure and register on the website.