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Sprint Triathalon

Commonly misspelled as a "Sprint Triathalon", the Sprint Triathlon is the shortest of the official triathlons. Sprint triathlons are the easiest to train for, allowing you to gradually transition and train into the longer triathlons competitions.

According to the International Triathlon Union (ITU), and the US Triathlon, the Sprint distances are:

  • Swimming 750m (0.5mile)

  • Biking 20 km (12 miles)

  • Running 5 km (3 miles)

The actual distance will vary with the event, but these are the standard distances. In fact, the Sprint Triathalon is the fastest growing triathlon event in the United States, and since the swimming distance is fairly short, they are sometimes held in pools during the winter months especially in the colder areas of the country.

Prior to beginning training for a Sprint Triathalon, you should be able to consistently bike for 30 minutes, and swim and run for 20 minutes each. If you are already at this fitness level, then you can start a Sprint training program safely.

Sprint TriathAlon Equipment


If the event is held over the summer or in an indoor pool, a bathing suit is all you need. However, a swim cap and goggles are a must for pools with chlorine, or salt water, but they can be very basic and inexpensive. Swim fins are never allowed. Wetsuits make you more bouyant and help keep you warm when the water is chilly, and may be required when the water is cold. However, they may not be allowed when the water temperature is over a certain range (usually 78 degrees), as they can also cause you to overheat when the water is too warm.

For the shorter distances of the Sprint or Super Sprint triathlons, you can run and bike in your bathing suit, and use the same shoes for biking and for running. If you decide to become more serious, then you'll need to invest in different shoes for riding and running, and more versatile and comfortable clothing.

Bicycles used for competitive triathlons may cost thousands of dollars. When you first start out, a fat-tire bike will do the job, and allow you to enjoy the ride. You must wear a helmet while you are on the bike, with the chinstrap fastened. If you take the helmet off, even if you're stopped, you will be disqualified from the competition.

When training for a Sprint Triathalon, keep in mind the following:

  1. Do not overdo in the beginning. If you injure yourself then you've set back your entire program, and will need to start over again.
  2. You should be at a minimum fitness level BEFORE you start training.
  3. Once you are at the minimum fitness level, find a Sprint event at least 13 weeks out, and start your Sprint training program.
  4. Do NOT neglect stretching, nutrition, sleep and rest days in your training program
  5. Decide what level you plan to compete at.
  6. Train for all three events every week

The best advice for starting your Sprint Triathalon event is to enjoy yourself. You are embarking on a personal goal where finishing is more important than where you finish.  And remember it is triathlon, not triathalon.

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