Thursday, June 13, 2013

Triathlon Basics- Triathlon 101: Definitions

I recently taught a seminar for my run team, Team LUNA Chix Run Boston at Athleta on Newbury St. The intent of the seminar was to teach anyone who has thought about doing a triathlon the basic ideas behind the sport, I am by no means an expert but I have been competing since 2009 in the sport. This is meant to give someone who is thinking about trying out a race the basic knowledge to find out if triathlon is something for you and teach the person who has signed up the basics for their first race.

Lets start with the overall basic definitions shall we:

Triathlon- Swim bike run, all taken on as one event. Can be done individually or as a part of a relay. There are on road versions (road ride and generally road run) and off road versions (mountain biking, and trial running).
Duathlon- Run bike run, all taken on as one event. Can be done individually or part of a relay. There are on road versions (road ride and generally road run) and off road versions (mountain biking, and trial running).
Aquabike- Swim bike (no run), all taken on as one event. Generally done individually. Usually a great option for people with knee or hip issues, who don’t run. Not many of these event options but getting more common.
Aquathon- Swim Run (no bike), all taken on as one event.  Generally done individually. Not many of these events in the north east. 

Now lets talk about the different distances: 

Sprint- Swim varies from ¼ to ½ mile Bike generally around 10 miles and Run usually a 5k.
Olympic- 1.5K swim  (just under a Mile), 40K bike (about 25 miles), and a 10k. Also sometimes called International
Half Ironman- 1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a Half Marathon 13.1. Also known as a 70.3 (the distances add up to 70.3 miles). Race must be completed within 8.5 hours of the last wave of swimmers.
Ironman- 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a Marathon 26.2.  Also known as 140.6 (the distances add up to 140.6 miles). Race must be completed by midnight on race day.

Not all sprints and Olympics/International are the set distances. Anything sanctioned by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is that distance for a Half or Full Ironman. The name Ironman belongs to the WTC so any races that are that distance and not run by WTC are not considered Ironman and cannot be named such.

Then you have the governing bodies of triathlon:

USAT- USA Triathlon- The governing body for USA races. You must have a license to participate in a race, day passes are generally available with registration for about 12 bucks. If you decide after a race you want a year membership you can apply that 12 bucks to the year cost. They create and enforce the rules!
World Triathlon Corporation- WTC- The Half Ironman and Ironman distance events governing body. They have slightly different rules and enforcing.

Different types of races and race series:

Kona- Ironman World Championships- it’s the super bowl for triathletes. In order to attend you must win your age group in an Ironman race throughout the year. There are lottery and charity spots available for the common man. This is the race every triathlete hopes to get to at some point.
Rev3- A new race series offering the 70.3 distance, full distance, and Olympic distance all over the US
Challenge Series- A European competitor to the WTC offering similar distance events.

Registration for most races is available online. Ironman events generally are registered for a year in advance starting registration the day after the race day. Depending on the race size the race will include an early packet pickup or an expo- similar to run races.

There are some rules that are really good to know going into your first race here's a few:

Wetsuits are only legal in water temperatures less than 78. 78-84 can wear but not eligible for awards. 84 and higher not legal.

Littering on the course is a violation- keep your wrappers in your pockets or drop them in trash zones at aid stations. Dropping your goggles or your cap can be considered this too.

Helmet must be on for you to be on your bike. Bike must have bar ends

Bike Course rules:
Ride on the right side of your lane.
Keep three bike lengths between yourself and the cyclist in front of you.
Pass on the left of the cyclist in front, never on the right.
Complete your pass within 15 seconds.
If passed, you must drop completely out of the zone, to the rear, before attempting to re-pass.


If you are going to do a triathlon its good to know the big name pros in the sport. Here are the few that just about everyone will mention at some point:

Chrissie Wellington- She was the queen of Ironman. Recently retired but everyone is compared to her she did 13 Ironmans WON ALL OF THEM!
Mirinda Carfrae- aka Rinny- Little 5 foot tall speed demon. Has won Kona and holds the marathon course record at Kona.
Chris McCormick- aka Macca- Has won Kona. Well known Aussie triathlete.
Craig Alexander- another well known Aussie triathlete has won Kona MULTIPLE times and 70.3 World Championships
Winners of Kona last year: Leanda Cave and Pete Jacobs
These are the resources I have used since I started triathlon:
Triathlete Training Bible
Triathlete Magazine has great pointers training plans etc
 Next time- gear suggestions, transition layouts, and race day basics.....

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