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How Long is an Olympic Triathlon

A triathlon is a multi-sport endurance event that involves swimming, cycling, running without a break between the different events. The entire event is timed, even when the athletes change between swimming to cycling and cycling to running, and the winner is the first to finish the race. Unlike other multi events, in which athletes race for the best time, in the majority of triathlon events all of the competitors race at the same time. The history of triathlon can be traced back to the early part of the 20th century, but modern triathlon began in the 1970’s. Triathlon became an Olympic event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

How long is an Olympic triathlon?
Unlike many sports that have a single set limits there are a number of standard race limits for the triathlon. Further, the governing body, International Triathlon Union (ITU), allows a 5% deviation in the cycling and running portion of the event. That being said the Olympic distance for a triathlon, also called “short course” “standard course” and “international distance”, is a 1.5 km (0.93 mi) swim, 40 km (24.8 mi) cycle and a 10 km (6.2 mi) run. This race distance is used for both the men’s and women’s event. At the Beijing and London Olympics 55 triathletes were granted a place in both the female and male event.

Did you know?
There are 4 standard race distances longer than the Olympic distance. The longest triathlon includes a 3.86 km (2.4 mi) swim, 180 km (112 mi) cycle and a full marathon run (42.2 km or 26.2 mi) at the end! These events are usually referred to as an Ironman Triathlon.

On September 16, 2000, Brigitte McMahon of Switzerland won the first ever triathlon gold medal in Sydney. A day later Canadian Simon Whitfield took the first men’s gold medal in the event.

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