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5 unmissable races in the world of Triathlon

5 unmissable races in the world of Triathlon

Triathlon is a compelling sport that pushes athletes to give their very best throughout the race. Every competition has three distinct stages: swimming, cycling and running. The variables in race types are distances and times. But what doesn't change is the physical and mental effort required for every triathlon event by athletes of all levels.

Although we're talking about a fairly new sport, it has already won the hearts of many enthusiasts and been dubbed "the world's hardest sport". There are numerous types of race to take part in. Times and distances vary considerably, and so does the physical preparation needed by athletes.

Types of Triathlon: times and distances

There may be huge differences between triathlon events, depending on the conditions on the ground, the weather and also the type of competition.

Here are the main types, with times and distances:


Swimming (m)

Cycling (km)

Running (km)

Average time (hours)





> 8h

Half Ironman




4 h 10 min





1h 35 min





1 h 05 min

It is clear, then, that each athlete needs to follow a specific training schedule for the type of competition they are entering.

Times for triathlons vary from the 8 hours of an Ironman to just over 60 minutes for a Triathlon Sprint. There's also a Super Sprint, with even shorter distances and times.

Triathlon mixed relay: why it's a popular format

The triathlon mixed relay merits separate consideration: it has only been an Olympic sport since 2020, when it debuted in Tokyo. Although its Olympic popularity is so recent, this competition format rapidly picked up keen followers.

The relay introduces the concept of teamwork in a sport that has always been highly individual. The three stages of each event arise from individual sports, in which the athlete's physical and mental preparation makes all the difference.

But with the relay it's different: the outcome of all depends on the performance of each.

The triathlon mixed relay involves teams of four, two women and two men.

The course is as follows:





4 legs

300 m

6.8 km

2 km

Departures always follow the pattern woman - man - woman - man.

At the end of each individual leg, the athlete passes the baton to the next team member, who repeats the course. The winner is the team that completes the 4 legs in the shortest time.

The first world champions in triathlon mixed relay were the British. We'll have to wait for the next Olympics for an update.


5 unmissable events

If these are the types of competition currently happening in triathlon, which races should a keen triathlete take part in at least once in their lifetime?

Here's the list of our 5 favourites, starting with a competition that happens right here in Italy

1 - International Triathlon Bardolino

The International Triathlon Bardolino has reached its 37th edition, making it a genuine landmark for triathlon enthusiasts, Italian and otherwise. The fabulous setting on the shores of Lake Garda is the perfect backdrop to a competition that pits men and women of various levels against each other in a series of different races.
This competition is a real institution: in 1984 it was the first triathlon event in Italy.
Info: http://www.triathlonbardolino.it

2 - Ironman

The Ironman is probably the best-known and most iconic event in the world of triathlon, and has become a race type in itself.
The name actually derives from a registered brand - Ironman Inc., which organises triathlon events.
Hundreds of Ironman competitions are held all over the world every year. The Ironman is a genuine test of the athletes' resistance: each stage covers long distances and the whole thing takes hours and hours to complete.
Info: https://www.ironman.com

3 - Super League Triathlon

Founded in 2017, Super League Triathlon is an international circuit of competitions that attracts top athletes from all over the world (partly thanks to the big cash prizes).
The first edition took place in Australia in 2017. Competitions are divided into championships, series and arena games. 
Competing for the prize are 5 teams with animal names: Sharks, Eagles, Rhinos, Scorpions and Cheetahs.
Each team consists of 4 male and 4 female athletes, plus reserves. Since the 2021 series, each team has a captain.
Info: https://superleaguetriathlon.com/

4 - Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

It's probably the most striking race of all in terms of excitement: the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon follows the route of the three detainees who escaped the maximum security prison in San Francisco in 1962.
Born as an event for a private club, the race was later opened to the public. Today some 2000 athletes take part in every edition.
The triathletes compete on a course that involves 1.5 miles of swimming, from Alcatraz itself to the shore of San Francisco. This is followed by 18 miles cycling as far as the Golden Gate, and finally an 8-mile run, ending with 400 stairs of sand.
Info: https://www.escapealcatraztri.com/

5 - Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

The Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is an exhausting event, one of the toughest in the world. The race begins at 5 am with a 4-metre dive and a swim of over 3 km from the coast of Eidfjord in Norway, in the Hardangerfjord. Then come 180 km of road cycling in extreme conditions but with epic scenery. The finish line is at 1850 m above sea level, with a height gain of approximately 5000 metres.
The competition is part of the Xtri circuit of the most iconic and famous events. Only athletes in top physical and mental condition can complete the Norseman.
Info: https://nxtri.com/


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