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What is a Sprint Triathlon?

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A sprint triathlon is a short-distance triathlon, ideal for those competitors who are new to the sport. Because the contests require less training and experience, sprint triathlons are very popular types of endurance competitions.

What is a Triathlon?

A triathlon is a physical competition involving three disciplines: swimming, cycling and running. These three events are completed in succession without breaks. Triathlons are endurance activities covering long distances.

The first modern triathlon took place at Mission Bay, San Diego, California on September 25, 1974. Since then, triathlons have become extremely popular, and are now held throughout the world. The most famous triathlon is the Hawaiian Ironman. This contest is an annual event, and was the first long-distance triathlon. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

What is a Sprint Triathlon?

Sprint triathlons are short-distance triathlons, usually consisting of a 750-meter swim, 20k-bike ride and a 5k-run. This is half the distance of an Olympic triathlon and less than a quarter of the distance of the Ironman. Distances may vary slightly from event to event, but they typically adhere to the above standards. Because of their shorter distances, sprint triathlons have become increasingly popular and are ideal for beginner or novice athletes.

The Event

Most sprint triathlons will ask competitors to arrive early to the event. Here, athletes will check-in and receive their individual race number. Then they will set up their transition area, a designated area along the route where racers will store their bikes, sneakers and any other equipment needed for the next stage of the race. In smaller events, athletes will all start the race together. However, in most races, athletes are usually divided into professional and amateur groups. Amateurs may then be further separated into groups based on age or sex.

The Race

Triathlons start with the swimming portion of the race. Starts will either be mass starts, where all the members of the separated groups begin together, or wave starts, where smaller groups will begin every few minutes. The swimming portion of the race will usually be done in open water. Therefore, most participants will wear wetsuits. When completed, athletes will exit the water and head to the transition area. The bike stage follows a pre-marked course, and usually finishes where it began, near the transition area. Finally, the running stage is also along a marked course that ends at the finish line.


Competing in a triathlon is a physically demanding task. Even training for a short-distance triathlon, such as a sprint, can take several weeks or months of training, depending on your physical fitness level. Because sprint triathlons are endurance sports, the most important part of training is improving your endurance with cardiovascular exercise. It's impossible to compete in a triathlon without cardiovascular capabilities. Aside from the cardio aspect, developing muscle is also a key component to the training regime. Because triathlons are multi-disciplinary activities, and each discipline involves the use of different muscles, developing muscle throughout the body is very important.

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