New Plymouth ITU Triathlon World Cup
Which triathlon distance should you race?

What are the different triathlon distances?

We explain the 5 recognised triathlon distances you can race, from the shortest, the supersprint, to the full distance Ironman

Which triathlon distance should you race? 

The good news about triathlon is whichever distance you decide on, you’ll still be taking on a decent challenge.There are also many varied races out there, but with just six hours a week to train you can comfortably complete one. See our guide to the different triathlon distances and times below.


Swim: 400m
Bike :10km
Run: 2.5km 

A great entry point to tri, giving you the chance to experience the three disciplines together without having to put in hours of training. Finish one and you’ll be a triathlete!

What’s a good time for this triathlon distance? Anything under 1hr and you’re flying. Plenty of beginners just aim to have fun and complete rather than compete, so enjoy! 

Free 8 week supersprint triathlon training plan


Bike: 20km
Run: 5km 

Often the shortest option at many events, but still a decent race to get under your belt. This gives you the chance to really experience triathlon, so you’ll need to incorporate tri-specific skills such as brick sessions into your training.

What’s a good time for this triathlon distance? Come in under 90mins and you should feel chuffed.

12 week sprint distance training plan for beginners



Swim: 1.5km
Bike: 40km
Run: 10km 

Triathlon made its Olympic debut at the Sydney Games in 2000, and this distance is now accepted as the ‘standard’ distance for ITU racing. 

What’s a good time for this triathlon distance? Under 3hrs is a really solid time. At the elite level, Alistair Brownlee famously triumphed at the London Olympics with a time of 1:46:25 at this distance.

Free Olympic distance triathlon training plans

Olympic race recovery training plan



Bike: 90km
Run: 21.1km 

You might also hear this referred to as ‘middle distance’ or ‘70.3’. It’s a gruelling step-up from Olympic racing and a decent challenge that more triathletes are taking on.

What’s a good time for this triathlon distance? Race times are very individual and the course can play a big part. But, for the 35-39 group, a good men’s time is approx 6hrs, 7hrs for women.

8 Essential Ironman 70.3 Training Sessions

11 middle-distance training tips for beginners

Free Ironman 70.3 training plans



Swim: 3.8km
Bike: 180km
Run: 42.2km 

Complete one of these and you’d be justified in spending the rest of the year sat in the pub, telling anyone who’ll listen about your chafing.

Iron-distance triathlons: the 11 toughest?

Ironman-distance triathlons: the 10 best European Irons for beginners

What’s a good time for this triathlon distance? Just completing the distance within the 17hr cut-off is a massive accomplishment! But anything around the 13hr mark for men (30-35) is a solid time; 14hrs for women. Getting under the 11hr mark deserves serious respect! 

Free Ironman training plans

15 Ironman training sessions from the pros


Found this useful? Try...

How to train for your first triathlon 

How to train for your first Ironman

12 weeks till triathlon race-day? Here's how to prepare

How to conquer your first triathlon

Triathlon training: 10 tips for beginners

First triathlon training plans for swimmers, cyclists and runners


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