What is a Triathlon ?

What is a Triathlon?

What is it like to be a triathlete?

The first recorded triathlon was in California on September 24, 1974.  It was organised by the San Diego Track and Field Club at Mission Bay and was created as an alternative to the rigors of athletic training on the track. Since this, Triathlon has developed into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and one that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.

Triathlon is an activity that combines swimming, cycling, and running in one event. The Olympic, or “standard” distance in triathlon is a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike, and 10 kilometre run.

There are many variations of a Triathlon or multisport event that can be done as an individual or as part of a team. The table below gives a good overview of the various types of events and distances:


Type Name Distance
Triathlon Enticer / Novice Swim – less than 750m

Ride – less than 20km

Run – less than 5km

Sprint Swim – 750m

Ride – 20km

Run – 5km

Olympic or Classic Swim – 1500m

Ride – 40km

Run – 10km

Long Course / Half Iron Distance Swim – between 2500 and 3800m

Ride – between 80km and 120km

Run – between 20km and 30km

Iron Distance Swim – 3800m

Ride – 180km

Run – 42km

Various Distances Swim – Run


Swim – Run – Swim



Triathlons are organised through independent event organisers, state triathlon associations and clubs. They are run at local, state, national and international levels. Triathlon events in Australia range from enticer or novice events right through to ITU World Championship races.


One reason why Triathlon is so appealing to all is because of its unique “age group” concept that is built into the very fabric of the sport. All Triathlon events are traditionally divided into 5-year age categories, so you will take part in the same race as your friends, your colleagues and your family regardless of their age and ability.


Whether your goal is to complete your first Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon, participate in state or national championships, or to gain selection for the age group world championship team, triathlon is a sport which provides the pathways between participation and high performance in a way which enables all individuals to achieve whatever level they aspire to.



  • Enter a short distance enticer /novice race. Such events are usually delivered as low-competitive, fun for all events.
  • Enter as a member of a two or three-person team.  This can be a great way to try out the sport with your friends, and get to know the three disciplines of a triathlon.
  • Join a triathlon club. Triathlon clubs are a great way to meet other triathletes and coaches, get involved in a regular training programme, or sign up for a skills development course. Clubs will often keep their members updated on local or state races and events, and provide a great social aspect to the sport.
  • Go along as a supporter for your family or friend, and get to know the sport as a spectator – we guarantee you will leave wanting to have a go yourself!
  • Volunteer – Volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences.  Triathlon is largely dependent on a volunteer workforce.