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Swim, bike, run. Though the basic format stays the same, triathlon has several racing distances, from the youth events all the way up to double and triple ultra-distance events. Athletes of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels compete in triathlon yearly to prove that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible.

The Olympic distance is the distance completed by athletes at the Olympic Games. Professional triathletes competing in events to qualify them for the Olympic Games participate in draft-legal racing during the bike segment. Drafting allows them to ride closer and in groups called packs.

In age-group racing (amateur), drafting is not allowed. Athletes must maintain a minimum or three bike lengths distance between them and the rider in front of them.

Events can range from below 50 to over 3,000 competitors. Events such as the Chicago Triathlon have over 6,000 total competitors, racing in the youth, sprint and Olympic distance events during the festival weekend. On the flip side, clubs coordinate “club only” events that can have 20-30 participants competing in a fun, no-pressure event.

Common Race Distances

Adults Swim Bike Run
Sprint Distance 750m 20K 5K
Olympic Distance 1500m 40K 10K
70.3 Distance 1.9K 90K 21K
Ironman Distance 3.8K 190K 42K

Youth Swim Bike Run
Youth 6 - 9 50m 3K 1K
Youth 9 - 12 100m 5K 1.5K
Youth 12 - 15 200m 7K 2K
Youth 15 - 18 375m 10K 2.5K

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