Triathlon -- A Sport for Athletes Only? Think Again

Armen Hareyan's picture

(ARA) - Triathlon became an official Olympic sport in 2000 at the Sydney Games, but it has been steadily growing in popularity for three decades. For competitors, triathlon offers the ultimate challenge: swimming, biking and running, competing against other athletes and the clock, and challenging their own personal limits.

The sport consists of three legs: swimming, biking and running, in that order, according to the rules set by the International Triathlon Union. Race distances can vary, but most triathlons use the Olympic standards, which are a 1.5 kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.

The first triathlons were informal races organized by a group of athletes in Southern California, many of them marathon runners, who were looking for a break from the routine of their grueling training regimens. These competitions evolved into more "official" events, and the first true triathlon was held in 1974.

From that beginning, the sport has grown to include thousands of triathlons held every year, in locations around the world. "Triathlon has become a popular sport for a growing number of competitors," says Marilyn Franzen, Life Time Fitness' athletic events director. "They are appealing events because the average person has some experience in either biking, swimming or running."

Although the sport requires dedication and training, you don't have to be a professional athlete to compete. "Triathlons are great for people looking for a challenge," said professional Triathlete Becky Gibbs Lavelle. "Whether an athlete looking for a new challenge or a weekend warrior, it's a great way to reach your physical goals, while executing a steady workout plan with everyday life."


Life Time Fitness has produced and hosted an annual triathlon since 2002; it features the largest cash purse in the history of the sport, at $500,000. It also features a unique timing system called the Equalizer that pits the world's best professional triathletes, women and men, against one another for the first place prize of $250,000.

The Life Time Fitness triathlon features two race distances. The professional division competes on the Olympic course under the Equalizer timing format. Amateurs also may compete. Individuals may participate on the Olympic or Short distance courses, or as part of a relay team. The event also offers a Corporate Challenge division for interested corporate participants.

New this year were the Clydesdale and Athena divisions -- for male athletes weighing more than 200 pounds and female athletes weighing more than 150 pounds. Top finishers qualified for the 2004 Team Clydesdale World Games in Chicago.

Set in Minneapolis, the Life Time Fitness Triathlon takes place in a beautiful urban landscape and is shown nationally on NBC Sports. "Life Time Fitness is a healthy way of life company, and the triathlon celebrates well-rounded athletes at their peak of training," says Franzen. "This year's event featured many professionals who will go on to compete in the Olympic Games in Athens."

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Courtesy of ARA Content