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How To Choose Your First Triathlon

by Alexandra Parren

Open Water Swimming Triathlon Beach Wetsuit

Choosing a triathlon can be tough if it's your first time. Open water or pool swim? Sprint or standard distance? There are lots of things to consider. Follow our step-by-step guide to get you to the starting line of your first event.

1. Choose a distance

There are levels for everyone of every ability in triathlon. From super sprint to full Iron distance, the distance you choose can make a big difference to your success. The distance you choose will depend largely on your current level of fitness and also whether you prefer short, fast events or longer endurance events. Going for a full Iron distance triathlon for your first ever event is probably not advisable as there are serious risks involved if you do not execute it properly.

Triathlon Distances

 Race Swim Bike Run
Super Sprint 400m 10km 2.5km
Sprint 750m 20km 5km
Standard (Olympic) 1500m 40km 10km
Middle (Half Iron/70.3) 1900m 90km 20km
Full (Full Iron/140.6) 3860m 180km 40km


Open Water Swimming Triathlon Lake Swim Hat Race

2. Choose a location

For your first ever triathlon, you'll probably want to stay quite close to home. There's nothing worse than being exhausted and sweaty and having to then drive for hours to get home. You'll also want to make sure the location you choose has the right hills for your level. Some events are a lot tougher than others simply because of the gradients you face, so for your first event, it may be an idea to choose a location by the coast as they are less likely to have a lot of tough hills involved.

With that said, some triathlons offer incredible locations for their races with views and scenery that you would not otherwise be able to enjoy. There is a Castle triathlon series which sees triathletes race around famous castles in the UK, while the London Triathlon allows you to enjoy the landmarks of London while you race. Some routes use disused railways and some use private grounds, so check out some of the more interesting routes to make the most of your experience. 

3. Indoor or outdoor?

An indoor triathlon can be a great way to ease yourself into your first triathlon as it removes the element of the open water swim, which can often be the most daunting discipline for newcomers. This allows you to practice performing the three sports and perfecting your transition before you tackle a sea swim, which comes with the worry of battling the tide, getting into and out of a wetsuit, and being hit by other swimmers.

Cycling Outdoor Triathlon Transition

4. Choose your price

Triathlon can be an expensive pursuit, and some events cost a lot more than others. Decide on your budget and then choose a race accordingly. Entry prices can range anywhere from around £30 to over £100.

5. Get your entry in early!

Races tend to sell out very quickly, especially the popular ones, so make sure once you have decided which event you're going to do that you get your entry in quickly to secure your place. 

Bikes Transition Sport Triathlon

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