What is a triathlon?
According to the dictionary, “Triathlon is an athletic contest of three different events, typically swimming, cycling and long-distance running”
As well as Triathlon, British Triathlon is the governing body for multi sport events including Duathlon and Aquathlon for both able bodied and Para-athletes.
Distances include Super Sprint (400m/10km/2.5km), Sprint (750m/20km/5km), Standard or Olympic (1500m/40km/10km), Middle or Half Ironman (1.9km/90km/21km) totalling 70.3 miles, hence it’s moniker 70.3 and Long Distance or Ironman (3.8km/180km/42km) Totalling 140.6 miles and finishing with a marathon
So why should you participate?
1 – Objective Fitness
Triathlon and multisport is an excellent opportunity to create fitness goals that are totally objective and recordable. By having a set race to aim for in your training calendar, your goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Time Scaled). By having a smart goal, you are more likely to stick to it and achieve your results.
By having an event to take part in, you can measure your progress in training for the event and you will also be able to measure your results year on year by continuing to participate.
2 – The Brownlees
Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are the UK’s darlings of multi sport. They are not alone though, Chrissie Wellington, Tim Don, Jodie Stimpson, Non Stanford, Joe Skipper, Jodie Swallow are all the top names in British Triathlon. Whilst they are professional athletes and they compete at an international level, in World Championship events, Commonwealth and Olympic Games’ at all distances, they also compete from the same start line as you and I.
In 2016, the ITU held a World Series event in Leeds, alongside a Sprint and Standard distance event open to the public. Whilst public entrants were starting a different race to the pros, ultimately everyone was competing together within the same event. There was the opportunity for participants to watch the pro event the day before they raced their own race. There aren’t many other sports that allow weekend warriors the opportunity to watch their heroes for free and then race on exactly the same course as the pros have.
3 – Community & friendships
Mass participation events bring people together. Different people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities come together, to the same start line, to complete the same race. Everybody is there for a different reason, but the sport is one of the most inclusive available to athletes. As an event organiser myself, my events are available to anyone over the age of 15 (for licensing and insurance reasons, although junior events are also available), male or female, able bodied or disabled, professional, elite or total beginners. It is this variety of participants that makes my events and all the events I have taken part in so special and worthwhile.
With such a broad spectrum and large participant numbers, Multisport events can’t fail to be anything but sociable. Add to this, the likelihood of seeing fellow competitors at other events is pretty high which makes for a further sociable atmosphere. As well as events, triathlon is a sociable sport from a club point of view. Triathlon clubs are huge, with at least one in most towns, they are a great way to meet and train and race with likeminded folk. Not only that, but coffee and cake stops on the bike, open water swimming sessions, club runs and quiz nights. Everyone has a friend involved in triathlon.
4 – Accessible and Affordable
When you look at the professional field with £1000’s worth of bikes, wetsuits, tri suits, helmets, GPS devices and Sports Trackers and a new pair of running shoes every 500 miles, then on top of that British Triathlon Membership at £50 a year, Club membership, race entry, travel, accommodation and nutrition, the sport looks like it is set up for the middle classes who have more money than sense. When in fact, all you need is a swim costume; bike, helmet, trainers and you’re good to go. Don’t get me wrong, race entry will cost you something, but you don’t have to race and if you want to, you can find affordable options.
The biggest expense is always going to be your bike, but you do not need the top of the range speed machine that Jo Skipper is using… All it needs is to be roadworthy and race legal. Most road/mountain/hybrid bikes bought today are race legal and it doesn’t take much to keep it road worthy (gears and brakes both working well and tyres fully inflated) and a helmet is a must. You cannot race without one.
Next up would be race entry. Now don’t get me wrong, IMUK can cost up to £500 just for entry and that’s before travel, but there are plenty of affordable events to take part in. Go Tri is an initiative from British Triathlon to encourage the participation in the sport, local event organisers and clubs put on smaller, affordable events for all shapes and abilities. You can enter a Go Tri event for as little as £10 and you’ll be done and home within a couple of hours.
5 – Join the 1%
In 2016 Sport England believe about 200,000 people in England did a triathlon. That’s 3.3% of the population. Take into account that some of those starters were doing Go Tri events and others were doing middle and long distance, about 1% of the population take part in Standard/Olympic Distance triathlon each year.
Triathlon as a sport has grown massively in recent years. In 2009, there were about 120,000 race starts compared to 200,000 in 2016, that’s 67% growth over 7 years…. 2016’s number of starts represents 550 people doing a triathlon every single day.
There has been nearly 75% increase in number of events in that time also, in 2009 there were 800 events compared to nearly 1400 in 2016, that’s 26 events each week!!
In summary, triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and endurance sport as a whole in incredibly accessible to everybody. There are many great reasons why you should be participating and with initiatives like Go Tri, This Girl Can, Ride2Work and 26 events to choose from every week, it is a sport that has become more accessible than ever! The question isn’t why you should be participating, but why haven’t you?