Tri 101

While the history of many Olympic sports can be traced back to ancient times, the triathlon only dates back to the 1970s. Debuting at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, this new sport has grown rapidly while gaining worldwide recognition.

A triathlon is aptly named for the three sports involved: swimming, cycling and running. The official distances for the triathlon were set at a 1.5km swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run for both women and men. The race between events is continuous, making the smooth transition from sport to sport a vital strategy.

Thousands of triathlon competitions are offered worldwide each year to a base of about half a million triathletes. Since the sport is so grueling, half-tri competitions are gaining popularity. Although it has no official Olympic affiliation, the Ironman Triathlon is arguably the most well-known event in the sport.

The beautiful contrast of the Chicago skyline and lake provides a breathtaking and efficient venue for triathlon competition. The LIFETIME Triathlon held in Chicago is consistently one of the largest triathlons in the world. Each year, over 7,000 athletes compete, attracting over half a million spectators. The race features several local Chicagoans, many of whom have trained with the Chicago Tri Club and Tri-Masters Sports Initiative Programs, organizations that are dedicated to providing the necessary resources for multi-sport athletes to reach their full potential.

Triathlon combines the sports of swimming, biking and running in one event.
There are four basic levels of competition:

Description Swim Bike Run
Sprint 0.5 mile 12 mile 3.1 mile
Olympic 0.95 mile 24.8 mile 6.2 mile
Half Ironman 1.2 mile 56 mile 13.1 mile
Ironman 2.4 mile 112 mile 26.2 mile


Team competitions are also offered, allowing three athletes to compete in one
event. Additionally, some triathlon events feature course distances appropriate
for youth triathletes.