What Is Triathlon?

What Is Triathlon?

A triathlon is an endurance multisport race consisting of swimming, cycling, and running over various distances. Triathletes compete for fastest overall completion time, racing each segment sequentially with the time transitioning between the disciplines included.

UTC has been an established triathlon club in the South Lakes since 2013. We have continued to grow in numbers and experience ever since and welcome new members of all abilities; whether you're completely new to triathlon and are looking to get a bit fitter, or you're a seasoned Ironman hoping to get on the podium at Kona. 

Triathlon is a multi-discipline sport consisting of swimming, cycling and running. The order is always the same; swim like a fish, bike like you stole it, and run like the wind! 

The Swim 

This can be in a pool or open water (lake or sea) depending on the time of year. For open water events a wetsuit is required. Often the swim start will be in waves (different start times based on competitors predicted swim time or age). You can do either front crawl or breast stroke during the event. You will usually be given a specific swim cap to wear and goggles are recommended. You might also get a timing chip to wear throughout your race. 

The Ride 

Helmets are compulsory for the cycling section of all races and you must ensure your bike is mechanically sound and road worthy. Bike routes are signposted and have officials to help direct you. However, it's always useful to check the competitor information so you know the route before the race. You will usually need to put your race number on before you start cycling too. 

The Run 

Running after the bike can be a little different, but don't panic; it will get easier as you continue to run. There are usually drinks stations on the run route, and the route will be signposted and have officials. 


This is often called the fourth discipline in triathlon. However, for many people transition is simply where all your swim-to-bike and bike-to-run kit is kept during the race. You'll be given a race number which you'll need to wear on the bike and run (a race belt is useful for this). You'll need to rack your bike and layout your kit before the race starts. Your helmet must be fastened before you move your bike and cannot be removed until the bike is racked after your ride. Marshals and officials will be in transition and can answer any questions you might have. 


These may vary slightly from event to event according to the routes used. Below are some common distances: 

Triathlon (swim, bike, run) 

  • Super sprint distance: 400m (swim), 10km (bike), 2.5km (run) 
  • Sprint distance: 750m (swim), 20km (bike), 5km (run) 
  • Standard (Olympic) distance: 1500m (swim), 40km (bike), 10km (run) 
  • 70.3/middle/half-Ironman distance: 1.9km (swim), 90km (bike), 21km (run) 
  • Full/long/Ironman distance: 3.8km (swim), 180km (bike), 42km (run) - Ironman is a long-distance triathlon organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). 

Duathlon (run, bike, run) 

  • Sprint duathlon distance: 5km (run), 20km (bike), 2.5km (run) 
  • Standard duathlon distance: 10km (run), 40km (bike), 5km (run) 

Aquathlon (swim, run) 

  • Pool-based aquathlon distance: 400m (swim), 5km (run) 
  • Open water aquathlon distance: 750m (swim), 5km (run) 
  • Open water aqauthlon long distance: 1.5km (swim), 10km (run)