We all know that the birth of triathlon occurred back in 1974, and the first Iron distance race, 3 years later, in 1977.

Since then, the sport has grown consistently, with the number of competitors increasing exponentially on a year to year basis. Numerous race distances have also developed to meet the demands of athletes of all fitness levels and abilities.

An individual was considered a triathlete if the took part in any event that consisted of a swim leg, a bike leg and a run leg and was completed back to back.


Although the basic premise of the triathlon is the same for all distance (swim, bike, run + 2 transitions etc.), there are definite differences in the skills required, the type of training and the challenges you will experience, to complete a sprint distance event compared with and Iron distance race.

Contrary to what many non-triathletes, and a few triathletes, think, if you are completing a event with a swim, bike and run, back to back, you are in fact a triathlete.

Iron distance events have received much of the public attention and media attention over the past few years, and this has perhaps skewed the view of the general public on what a triathlon is really about. For many athletes, the Iron distance event has become the pinnacle of triathlon achievement.

And although I do agree that these event s are an enormous accomplishment for anyone completing one, I do not feel that they are for everyone, and everyone should be attempting one.

I also feel that from a growth and development perspective, the shorter distances are a much better bet for the masses looking for an entry point into the sport.

Ultimately, a Sprint distance competitor is as much a triathlete as an Iron distance finisher.

They share the same passion for the sport and the training, the same commitment to improvement and excellence and the same need to understand the limits of their body and mind.

We all belong to a unique and truly great community - the family of triathlon, and irrespective of the distance we compete at, we should not be defined by the distance we race.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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