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Land start at a triathlon (Sicily 2014); Due to the water temperature, the use of wetsuits is not permitted.

Triathlon is an endurance sport consisting of an all-around competition of the disciplines swimming , cycling and running , which must be completed one after the other and in exactly this order. The peculiarity of this sport is that a certain, fixed route has to be covered as quickly as possible with different means of transport, whereby the watch also with temporal interruptions like z. B. the change between the disciplines continues. This is where triathlon differs from other multi-purpose sports, such as B. the Nordic combined , the decathlon , the Racketlon or the modern pentathlon . Related sports of triathlon are paratriathlon , winter triathlon , duathlon , swim & run / aquathlon and bike & run . The word "triathlon" is made up of the Greek expressions τρεῖς / τρία or treis / tria , "three", and ἆθλος or athlos , "competition". Triathlon has also been an Olympic discipline since 2000.

Requirements, training and health aspects


Children's triathlon

Successful completion of the three endurance sports swimming, cycling and running is a particular sporting challenge. In competition in particular, many of the exercising athletes are pushed to the limit of their capabilities. Under these circumstances, many triathletes believe that reaching the goal is particularly attractive. a. by boosting self-esteem .

Triathlon and its training meet the natural need for movement and can be practiced by many age groups with comparatively little material expenditure. In addition to physical skills such as strength and speed endurance, coordinative skills such as adaptability and adaptability are also improved. At the same time, the strain on the muscles and connective tissue is lower than in many other sports due to the varied demands on the body for the same amount of time.

Regular exercise also increases psychological and mental skills, such as volitive abilities and the ability to concentrate . In addition, the susceptibility to stress often decreases and the increased oxygen intake increases the efficiency of the brain. The endorphin hormones released by the body during training and competitions - also known as human "happiness hormones" - have a positive effect on emotional wellbeing. This is how the “ runner's high ” , known among runners, sets in .


The characteristic of the triathlon is the direct succession of the three different disciplines and the related change of muscles. Especially the switch from cycling to running is perceived by beginners as the most difficult part, as the leg muscles already stressed by cycling are activated again while running. The activities of the athletes in the transition area are often seen as the “fourth discipline”, because z. For example, changing clothes and equipment near the maximum heart rate represents a coordinative challenge while the competition clock is still running. In addition to their performance in the sub-disciplines, good triathletes are also characterized by rapid transitions between the individual disciplines and the ability of their body to quickly adapt to the new load. In addition to the classic training in the disciplines of swimming, cycling and running, there are special forms of training in triathlon, for example coupling training, i.e. either the simple or repeated sequence of two sub-disciplines (mostly cycling and running), as well as alternating training (processes in the transition zone).

Health aspects

In elite competitions, the start is usually from a pontoon (here: Grand Final of the ITU World Championship Series 2014 in Edmonton ).

Triathlon has a high preventive potential against cardiovascular diseases. But it also harbors risks, because the high stress on the cardiovascular system - especially in competition - can also have negative effects. Many of these diseases can be acute, chronic or inherited in nature. In particular for newcomers and those returning to work over 35 years of age, as well as with previous illnesses or complaints and risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipid levels, diabetes, lack of exercise or obesity, you should first see a doctor for a health check before starting regular training.

Scientists from the University of Vienna examined the effects of the stresses of an Ironman triathlon with 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42 km running on health-relevant biochemical and molecular biological parameters. The result of the research, which focused on oxidative damage to blood cells , blood lipids and cell constituents in the blood, was that “despite temporary increases in most markers for oxidative stress, inflammation parameters and DNA strand breaks in lymphocytes, the enormous stress does not lead to any lasting cell damage ". Together with a working group from the Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Vienna, it was even found that errors in the cell division of lymphocytes due to chromosome damage, so-called micronuclei, decrease immediately after the Ironman.

As a study from 2009 shows, the risk of cardiac arrest in a triathlon is twice as high as in a marathon : for every million marathon runners there are statistically 4 to 8 cardiac arrests, in a triathlon there are 15. The risk is 0.0015%. For this purpose, data from 922,810 people were examined between 2006 and 2008. The main reasons are the unfamiliar load and body position when swimming. In particular, low water temperatures and the stress of competition can create conditions that promote cardiac incidents in untrained competitors. A recommendation for acclimatization before starting in the water should therefore not only be made by the organizers in advance.

As in all sports, when practicing triathlon as a competitive sport, the risk of possible physical damage is not triathlon-specific, which may not even become noticeable after the end of your career ( see also: Risks for the body from competitive sport ).


Athletes finish the first discipline of a triathlon.

First reports of all-around battles with swimming, cycling and running are known from the 1920s in France . Articles appeared in the sports newspaper “ L'Auto ” about a race that has been held annually since 1920 under the name “Les Trois Sports”, with its editor-in-chief Henri Desgrange , initiator of the Tour de France , also among the participants. The event took place at Joinville-le-Pont , Meulan and Poissy and consisted of a 3km run, 12km bike race and crossing the Marne River . It was also called “La Course des Débrouillards” and “La course des Touche à Tout”. The three disciplines were completed one after the other without a break. However, it did not attract much attention, even if there were similar events in other places such as Marseille (1927). In 1934 there was an edition of "Les Trois Sports" in La Rochelle , with a canal crossing (approx. 200 meters), a 10-km cycling competition in the port of La Rochelle and in Parc de Laleu and a final 1200-meter run in the stadium André-Barbeau. A membership card issued in 1927 for a René Taqué from Perpignan in a “Société des trois Sports” has survived from this period . No further evidence of this form of multisport is known for the following decades.

Origin of the triathlon

In the fitness wave of the 1970s, there were several smaller combined running and swimming competitions ( biathle ) in southern California . In the mid-1970s, the term triathlon was first used, organized on September 25, 1974 by the two Americans Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan in San Diego , California. The small race with 46 participants went - in this order - over 6 miles (approx. 10 km) running, 5 miles (approx. 8 km) cycling and 500 yards (approx. 0.5 km) swimming and was named Mission Bay Triathlon to the lagoon in front of San Diego. A good nine months later there was the Optimist Sports Fiesta Triathlon in Coronado . The participants in both events included the Navy officer John Collins , who was later stationed in Hawaii , and his wife Judy, co-initiators of the first Hawaii Iron Man Triathlon in 1978 . Through an article in Sports Illustrated , which in turn motivated ABC to broadcast TV reports in the following years, this event, originally conceived as a purely personal challenge for a few less than a few, quickly became the Ironman Hawaii as a nationally known sporting competition. As a result, hundreds of triathlon events took place in a very short time, initially in the USA and from 1982 also in Europe.

Development of organizational structures

Ironman Louisville bike course (2013, no slipstream)
Lisa Perterer and Anne Haug lead a cycling group in a triathlon with slipstream clearance ( ITU World Championship Series 2013 in Stockholm).

Different competition distances and inconsistent regulations have resulted in new sports associations in the individual countries in order to enable harmonization of the rules and regulations and fair competitions. IOC President Samaranch became aware of triathlon as early as the mid-1980s and supported the formation of international organizational structures with the aim of including triathlon in the program of the Olympic Games. This perspective coincided with the interests of national associations, because state competitive sports funding is primarily for Olympic sports. Instead of joining the UIPMB as recommended by the IOC , the thirty participating national associations, including DTU Vice President Detlef Kühnel as German representative, opted for independence on April 1, 1989 in Avignon , and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was established. On the same day, 1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running were set as the “Olympic distance”. Although the events were the most media attention at the time of of IMG organized Triathlon Longue Distance de Nice and the Ironman Hawaii , but their distances appeared both organisationally as well as with respect to competition duration unsuitable for Olympic Games.

World Championships and Olympic Games

Switch from bike to run at the Grand Final of the ITU World Championship Series 2014 in Edmonton. Athletes who have not dismounted the bike to the line in the foreground will be penalized.
Emma Jackson , Non Stanford and Ashleigh Gentle on the running track at the 2015 ITU World Championship Series in Edmonton
Alan Webb and Gregor Buchholz at the finish of the ITU World Triathlon Hamburg (2014)

Five months later, the first Triathlon World Championship also took place in Avignon in 1989. As early as January 1990, triathlon was a demonstration sport at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland . In 1991 the first "ITU World Cup" took place with eleven competitions in eight countries. In 1992 it was decided to add triathlon to the World University Games and the Goodwill Games . In June 1991 the ITU was accepted into the IOC, and at a congress on September 4, 1994 in Paris, the IOC decided to include triathlon in the competition program for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney for the first time - although initially only temporarily. A spectator-friendly presentation of the competitions was now important, which included making sure the winner was certain the moment the first athlete crossed the finish line. After it had taken a long time in the first few years at short distance world championships until all official protests against referee decisions had been dealt with, drafting was approved for the first time at the short distance world championships in Cancún in November 1995 . Triathlon was thus split into two competition formats with completely different characteristics: On the one hand, the fight of the individual against the clock when the use of slipstream on the bike course is prohibited, on the other hand, drafting competitions in which athletes who do not start off with who were at the top hardly had a chance.

In 1994 and 1995 the ITU honored world champions over the long distance for the first time at the Triathlon International de Nice , since then the organization has been awarded to another event every year. Formally , the Ironman Hawaii is not a world championship in the true sense of the word, even if it had been using the term "Ironman World Championship" as a protected trademark since 1982 - long before the founding of sports associations . In 1998, an agreement was reached that allows its organizer WTC , which is now part of the Chinese Dalian Wanda Group, to use the trademark without this corresponding to a world championship awarded by a sports association. The agreement was confirmed by the CAS in 2006 . The situation in triathlon - at least in relation to the German-speaking area - is thus similar to z. B. in cycling or tennis, where individual events such as the Tour de France or Wimbledon enjoy more attention than official championships.

Since 2009, the world championship on the Olympic distance is no longer held in a single competition, but over the ITU World Championship Series . World championships have also been held in Team Relay since 2009 . The teams are made up of two women and two men, each member successfully completing a super sprint of 250 m swimming, 6.6 km cycling and 1.6 km running. The format is part of the Youth Olympic Games and was included in the 2013 Summer Olympic Games program. In 2015, triathlon was also part of the first European Games .

The distances for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are 1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running for women and men.

Prize money

As early as the mid-1980s, a competition between the organizers for top athletes developed in order to gain media attention in order to optimize marketing: in 1985, the Longue Distance de Nice triathlon paid 75,000 US dollars in prize money. In order to avoid the top stars staying away again, the Ironman Hawaii followed suit a year later with prize money of 100,000 US dollars. In 1993, Powerman Zofingen attracted the athletes with 200,000 US dollars as the world's highest prize money. In 1996 "OnLine Sports International" created the "International Triathlon Grand Prix" with 1 million US dollars in prize money in ten competitions a. a. in Hawaii and Koblenz , which was reported on television worldwide. The WTC followed suit and paid out a total of 250,000 US dollars at Ironman Hawaii in 1997. From 2002 an American fitness chain organized the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon with prize money of 500,000 US dollars in 2004. At the Ironman Hawaii, the total prize money climbed to 430,000 US dollars in 2002 and 580,000 US dollars in 2005. The highest prize money to date in a single competition was paid out at 1.1 million US dollars at the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, where the winners alone received 151,000 US dollars. In 2015, a total of 3.0 million US dollars were paid out in the ITU World Championship Series over the short distance, and 150,000 US dollars per World Triathlon Series race. The highest prize money in a competition in Europe was paid out by the ITU World Triathlon Hamburg in 2014 and 2015 with 240,000 US dollars. The 2015 Ironman Hawaii prize was $ 650,000.
In addition, the WTC also organizes twenty competitions in North America, in which no prize money was paid at all in 2015. In order to bind the professional triathletes to its competition series, the organizer WTC has been requiring them to qualify via a points system since 2011 to participate in Hawaii. As a rule, at least four WTC competitions are completed for each athlete. In around a third of the qualifying competitions, the winner receives $ 3,000 or $ 5,000 respectively, and the fifth-placed professional just $ 500.

Daniela Ryf and Mario Mola were the top earners in 2018, and Ryf was the only one who managed to exceed the limit of 200,000 US dollars this year with their total prize money (201,000 US dollars; as of November 2018).

In 2015, sixteen male and eighteen female professional triathletes worldwide received a total of more than 50,000 euros in prize money.
Even if there may be additional entry fees and sponsor payments, the income of professional triathletes is significantly lower than in other popular sports. Management members often still have additional income, e.g. B. as a sports soldier and through sports aid and thus come, according to a study from 2010, to an average monthly gross income of 1608 euros, other professional triathletes are dependent on secondary employment. In 2015 alone, 346 male and 205 female professional triathletes were listed in the “Kona Pro Ranking System” of the Chinese Wanda Group organizer WTC, through which professionals qualify for the Ironman Hawaii. 18% of them succeeded, exactly 57 male and 42 female triathlon professionals made their way onto the start list, but 80% of them returned home without any prize money. From the professional's point of view, a more important criterion than the prize money is therefore often his media presence at an event, because for sponsors the market value of an athlete is measured by the reporting in the press and television.

Media influence

The question of which triathlon is the "more important" is answered differently in the media of individual countries and thus also their public. In the German-speaking countries, apart from the specialist press, there are hardly any reports about the ITU World Championships over the long distance , even if the medals there went to well-known triathletes such as Chris McCormack , Craig Alexander , Marino Vanhoenacker , Luc Van Lierde , Greg Welch and Rob Barel as well as Chrissie Wellington , Mirinda Carfrae , Leanda Cave , Rachel Joyce , Caroline Steffen and Natascha Badmann left.
In twenty-two years, since Lothar Leder won second place in 1994 and Swiss Jean-Christophe Guinchard took third place in 1997, not a single other male athlete from German-speaking countries has made it onto the podium. In contrast, over half of the men's podium finishes - 37 of the 72 medals awarded between 1994 and 2016 - went to Danish, British and French athletes.

In the German-language press and television, and thus also in the public, the Ironman Hawaii enjoys a much higher level of attention to this day as a result of the dominance of by far the largest triathlon in the region in the 1990s, the Ironman Europe in Roth . While Danish, British and French men, with the exception of third place from Torbjørn Sindballe in 2007, never stood on the podium during the “Flower Ceremony” of Ironman Hawaii, no other country dominated the men in the period from 1993 to 2015 Germany: During this time, German men achieved 24 podium positions at the Ironman Hawaii - twice as many as Australia (twelve medals) or the USA (eleven medals).

At world championships over the Olympic distance from 1989 to 2015 - considered women and men together - almost a third (47) of the medals went to Australia. Together with Great Britain and New Zealand, these three countries accounted for 55% (89 out of 162) of the podium finishes. In these 27 years, German athletes have stood on the podium eight times, including once by Daniel Unger as world champion in 2007. Only four of the 162 medals were awarded to Swiss athletes, while at Ironman Hawaii in the two decades since 1996, women athletes from no country except those from the Alpine republic were on the podium more often: Swiss women made it into the top twelve times between 1996 and 2015 -3 in Hawaii.

Development of participant numbers and competitions

Increasing coverage in the media ensured a continuously increasing number of competitions and participants and vice versa:

  • In the USA, the number of triathlon competitions rose from 1,510 in 2004 to 4,397 in 2014, and the number of triathletes with a USAT starting pass from 53,000 to 170,000 in the same period.
  • In Great Britain, 803 triathlon competitions with a cumulative 120,620 starters resulted in a total of 1,207 triathlons with a total of 196,303 starters in 2009
  • In Australia, the number of starting passes issued increased from 9,744 in 2010 to 21,445 in 2014, a total of 154,467 starters were counted in Australian triathlons in 2014.
  • In France, the number of starting passes issued rose from 20,451 in 2004 to 46,720 in 2014.
  • In Germany, the number of participants in triathlon events grew from 90,000 in 2003 to 270,000 in around 630 triathlon competitions in 2017, and the DTU issued over 27,000 starting passes in 2017. The number of members grew continuously from around 23,000 in 2002 to around 55,000 in 2015.
  • In Austria, a total of 39,204 starters were counted at 104 triathlon events in 2014, the ÖTRV issued a total of 1,895 starting passes / licenses. In 2005 the number of starting passes / licenses was still 570.
  • In Switzerland, the number of starters in competitions rose from 19,618 in 2004 to 28,108 in 301 competitions in 2014. In 2014, 2,212 starting passes / annual licenses were issued.

In 1983 the Ironman Hawaii introduced qualification criteria for the first time, in 2002 the WTC had a network of nine qualification races in the USA and thirteen more worldwide, 40,000 triathletes worldwide in these competitions alone paid an average entry fee of 375 US dollars for their participation. In 2005 the WTC also introduced their new triathlon brand Ironman 70.3 over half the distance of Ironman Hawaii. In 2008, 88,000 triathletes worldwide took part in competitions of the WTC brands, the average participation fees had risen by 40% since 2002. After the WTC became the property of a private equity company in 2008 , the number of its competitions grew to 83 by 2013. Under the label of the biggest competitor, the Challenge Family , thirty-seven triathlon competitions were organized around the world over different distances in 2015, with the average prize money being slightly higher than the competitions of the market leader WTC.

Triathlon in Germany

At the traditional season opening in Germany, the Siegerland Cup in Buschhütten , swimming takes place in an outdoor pool

Beginning in the 1980s, a triathlon culture emerged in Germany both in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the GDR (there initially called endurance triathlon or A3K). The German Triathlon Union was created as a new sporting umbrella organization. As part of the general fitness trend , triathlon quickly established itself as a popular sport . In the 1990s, the number of participants in events in German-speaking countries, with the exception of Ironman Europe , which received four thousand registrations for 2,700 starting places in 1998, was usually a few hundred triathletes at most. At the beginning of the 2000s, in addition to the Challenge Roth , the Ironman Germany , the Ironman Austria , the Cologne Triathlon and the Challenge Kraichgau, which became Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau in 2015 , other events with several thousand participants were established. In 2002, the Holsten City-Man was created in Hamburg , which over the years has even grown to a five-digit number of participants and in 2015, as ITU World Triathlon Hamburg, paid out the highest prize money in Germany with 240,000 US dollars. In addition, triathlon events with a four-digit number of participants developed in numerous cities, whereby beginners' competitions are often linked over the sprint distance, short distances and sometimes also triathlon league races. Around 630 triathlon events took place in Germany in 2017. If you add up the number of participants, a total of 270,000 starters come together. In 2003 a total of 90,000 starters were counted. Besides German championships the German Triathlon Union organizes the German Triathlon League with the first Bundesliga and a split in two seasons 2. Bundesliga (North and South). This includes regional leagues in six regions and other leagues at state level.

In the rural areas of the German-speaking region in particular, it was possible to participate in one of the many popular triathlons in 2015 against payment of a low double-digit amount. The highest participation fees in Germany were the Ironman Germany in Frankfurt, which received over 3000 registrations in 2015. Here each triathlete had to pay 515 euros plus 6% fees for inclusion in the start list. In 2009, € 400 had to be paid in Frankfurt, at the premiere in 2002 even DM 500 (€ 255) was enough. When Ironman Europe in Roth took place for the first time as a qualifying competition for Hawaii in 1988, it was the first triathlon in Germany for which the then 706 registrants each had to pay a three-digit amount with 105 DM (54 €).

Participant structure

Social structure

Triathlon can basically be an inexpensive sport, because to participate you don't need much more than a bicycle, a pair of running shoes and swimming trunks, which are available in almost every household, and in many places participation fees of a low double-digit amount can be found. If the sport is more ambitious, the athletes, who are on average 38 years old in Germany, often spend several thousand euros on their hobby. In addition to high-quality racing bikes, this also includes equipment for swimming and running, plus training camps, costs for individual training and a targeted diet. 2016 was e.g. B. the entry fee for the Ironman Hawaii 918 US dollars plus travel expenses, plus not inconsiderable expenses for participation in a qualifying competition. Correspondingly, the providers involved in the equipment market find that triathletes have an above-average income and are willing to spend it on their sport. A sports marketing study from 2009 placed triathlon fifth among the sports with the greatest potential for sponsors.

The organizer of Ironman Switzerland advertises its sponsors with the fact that 81% of its participants have an academic degree as bachelor , master or postgraduate degree , another 12% have completed at least a grammar school. The organizer Xterra named an average income of US $ 126,000 for triathletes in the USA as early as 2010. The organizer WTC , which is now part of the Chinese Dalian Wanda Group , even named an average income of its participants of 160,000 US dollars in 2010.

The Chair of Business Administration at the University of Bamberg found in a study that the practice of triathlon and professional success merge on many levels. In sport, which is characterized by individualists, skills are developed that are helpful for management positions in the professional field of action. These include stamina, willpower , a realistic assessment of one's own performance potential and intrinsic motivation , and physical fitness promotes psychological resilience. Accordingly, “Ironman” developed into a status symbol for the résumé.

Gender and age-specific characteristics in popular sport


Triathletes among the participants in
New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand
CanadaCanada Canada
United StatesUnited States United States
AustraliaAustralia Australia
South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
MexicoMexico Mexico
NorwayNorway Norway
IrelandIreland Ireland
DenmarkDenmark Denmark
United KingdomUnited Kingdom Great Britain
SwedenSweden Sweden
GermanyGermany Germany
PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines
AustriaAustria Austria
JapanJapan Japan
BrazilBrazil Brazil
FranceFrance France
8th %
ItalyItaly Italy
SpainSpain Spain
Share triathletes in 2014 among the participants
in organized in the country Wettkämp-
fen brands Ironman and Ironman 70.3

The ratio of the number of male and female triathletes differs significantly internationally. In New Zealand and Canada the proportion of women triathletes in competitions of the brands “ Ironman ” and “ Ironman 70.3 ” is five to six times higher than in Spain or Italy and also more than twice as high as in Germany and Austria.

The same can be observed in other endurance sports : In the Berlin Marathon , the proportion of women among the participants is 24%, while it is an average of 43% in American marathons . In the Berlin Half Marathon only 37% of the participants are women, in the USA, however, 61% of the runners over this distance are women.


In the early years of triathlon, women triathletes had exotic status: at the first Ironman Europe in 1988, 97% of the successful participants were male. Despite a continuous increase in the period that followed, the proportion of female triathletes only reached 16.6%, the previous maximum in the long-distance triathlon with the most participants, the Challenge Roth (2014). In the Hamburg Triathlon, with its competition formats comparable to Roth in terms of the number of starters, the proportion of female triathletes grew continuously from 9.5% at the premiere in 2002 to 20.5% in 2015, and on the sprint distance from 19.1% to 35.5 %.

The difference in the age structure is serious: while in 2015 the same number of male and female triathletes under the age of thirty started the sprint distance in Hamburg, the proportion of women triathletes in the older age groups fell rapidly. In absolute terms, most female triathletes took part in the 30 to 34 year old age group, while the largest number of male triathletes crossed the finish line in the 45 to 49 year old age group. During the long distance at Challenge Roth 2015, the proportion of female triathletes was highest among the 30-34 year old participants (20%). The age group 35–39 years was the one with the absolute largest number of women triathletes, while the men’s age group with the greatest number of participants, also in Roth, was between 45 and 49 years.

One study found significant differences in the self-image of German long-distance triathletes that men tend to classify themselves as competitive athletes, while triathletes see themselves predominantly as amateur athletes. While long-distance triathletes also train with friends or their partners, 70% of men prepare for competitions on their own. The majority of male triathletes have at least one child, while almost two thirds of female triathletes are childless.

In comparison to their male counterparts, female triathletes disproportionately often name motives for attractiveness, motives for meaning and self-realization, and social motives as drivers of their sporting activities.

Gender-specific differences in competitive sport

Since athletes protests because of the different distribution of prize money before the first official Triathlon World Championships in Avignon in 1989, there has been an equal distribution of prize money at both World Cups and World Championships for the elite. The number of starting places at the Olympic Games is also independent of gender.

In Germany there were protests at the German championships over the middle distance in 2000: 20% of the prize money of 20,000 DM went to the three fastest triathletes, 80% to the men up to tenth place. The athletes claimed the training effort required for a victory regardless of gender. In the following year, a chase start was introduced in which triathletes started a few minutes earlier. The prize money was paid in the order in which it was crossed, regardless of gender. The same mode of competition had already existed in the 1990s at Powerman Zofingen , at that time the competition with the world's highest prize money in the triathlon scene. In 2002, the fitness chain Life Time Fitness took over the idea and initiated the Battle of the Sexes Triathlon in Minneapolis, from the following year onwards, with prize money of 500,000 US dollars, it was the world's most highly endowed triathlon.

The organizer WTC distributes prize money equally for competitions of its brands “Ironman” and “Ironman 70.3”. He awards the highest prize money at his season highlights, which he markets under his trademark "Ironman World Championship" and "Ironman 70.3 World Championship". The qualification mode with 50 starting places for male and 35 for female professionals means that female professional triathletes have to complete an average of 21% more competitions (on average 3.4 to 2.8).
In around a third of the qualifying competitions, a fifth-placed professional receives just $ 500, which usually does not even cover his travel expenses. A
social media initiative started under the hashtag # 50womentokona with an open letter signed by several hundred supporters . The WTC company rejects an equal allocation of professional starting places because of the lower number of female amateurs. In addition, the 15 additional starting places would then have to be deleted elsewhere - probably for the men. At the same time, the WTC increased the total starting field at the Ironman Hawaii (including amateurs) from 2185 athletes (2013) to 2472 athletes (2018).


Sports associations

The tasks of the sports associations include a. the further development of a uniform set of rules and their preservation through the training of referees to ensure safe and fair competition operations, structural organization and promotion of associations and clubs, youth work, international agreements between the national associations, the coordination of competitive Olympic sports (the nomination of athletes for Olympic Games is carried out by the NOKs at the suggestion of the regional associations), implementation and further development of the doping control system in cooperation with NADA and WADA as well as the award of the organization of national, continental and world championships .

For the development of the membership numbers of the associations see also: Development of participant numbers and competitions

Other organizations

  • International Ultra Triathlon Association (IUTA), interest group u. a. to coordinate competition distances beyond the ITU regulations, not a member of the IOC or Sportaccord, without international recognition.

Organizers and important racing series

Associations at the international level

The international organization lies with the International Triathlon Union (ITU): u. a. ITU World Championship Series and World Cups

  • European Triathlon Union (ETU): 43 national organizations; European championships on the different distances
  • Pan American Triathlon Confederation (PATCO): 36 national organizations
  • Asian Triathlon Confederation (ASTC): 22 national organizations
  • Africa Triathlon Union (ATU): 11 national organizations
  • Oceania Triathlon Union (OTU): 10 national organizations

National level organizations

National organizations are responsible for the organization of the races in the individual nations and the establishment and promotion of a national squad and the clubs. B .:

Commercial organizer

The finishing shute at Ironman Melbourne.jpg

With his trademarks Ironman , Ironman 70.3 u. a. is the Chinese Dalian Wanda Group belonging WTC global leader among the triathlon organizers
Challenge Family is the world's second largest competition series in triathlon (including Challenge Roth , Challenge Heilbronn , Challenge Regensburg , Challenge Walchsee-Kaiserwinkl )


Juniors, elite and popular sports

The different competition distances in triathlon are specified in the Competition Rules of the ITU as well as the Sports Regulations of the DTU, the Competition Regulations of Swiss Triathlon and the ÖTRV Sports Regulations and are the basis for the sporting approval of the event. Deviations are to be pointed out by the organizer in the competition announcement. The competition routes are usually not officially measured and, due to local conditions in the individual sub-disciplines, may deviate by ± 10% from the standard routes.

For many competitions at all distances, the organizers also offer relay competitions for men, women and mixed teams, in which up to three people split the disciplines. This form of relay triathlon should not be confused with the Team Relay competition format , in which each team member completes a complete triathlon and then hands it over to the next team member.

designation swim To go biking To run
Team relay 0.2-0.3 km 5-8 km 1.2-2.0 km
   only junior, U23 and elite competitions
(regional and national club championships, ITU World Championship , Summer Olympic Games)
with slipstream clearance on the bike course (drafting race)
Super sprint 0.25-0.5 km up to 20 km up to 5 km
Sprint distance up to 0.75 km up to 20 km up to 5 km
People's and everyone's triathlons (participation from 16 years, no start pass required) No slipstream on the bike course (non-drafting race)
Junior, U23 and elite competitions
(regional and national championships, Triathlon Bundesliga , Grand Prix de Triathlon , ITU World Championship Series )
with slipstream clearance on the bike course (drafting race)
Olympic distance or short distance 1.5 km 40 km 10 km
Championships for age groups and other popular sports events
Examples of special brands:
5150 (organizer WTC ), Challenge Olympic ( Challenge Family )
No slipstream on the bike course (non-drafting race)
U23 and elite competitions
(regional and national championships, Triathlon Bundesliga , Grand Prix de Triathlon , ITU World Championship Series , Summer Olympic Games)
with slipstream clearance on the bike course (drafting race)
Middle distance 1 1.9-3 km 80-90 km 20-21 km
Examples of special brands:
Ironman 70.3 ( WTC ), Challenge Half ( Challenge Family ), Ocean Lava, ICAN
Competitions with a large number of participants in German-speaking countries:
Ironman 70.3 Germany , Allgäu Triathlon , Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau , Challenge Heilbronn , Cologne Triathlon , Ironman 70.3 Rügen, Ironman 70.3 Austria , Ironman 70.3 Zell am See, Ironman 70.3 Switzerland
1.9 km (1.2 mile ) 90 km (56 mile ) 21.1 km (13.1 mile )
Long distance 1 2  1-4 km 100-200 km 10-42.2 km
Examples of special brands:
Ironman ( WTC ), Challenge Full ( Challenge Family ), ICAN, Rev3 Competitions with a large
number of participants in German-speaking countries:
Ironman Germany , Challenge Roth , Ostseeman , Ironman Austria , Austria-Triathlon , Ironman Switzerland
3.86 km (2.4 mile ) 180 km (112 mile ) 42.2 km (26.2 mile )
1 In the middle and long distance there is a general slipstream ban on the bike course (non-drafting race)
2 In 2005, the ITU introduced the terms Double Olympic (O2, 3 km swimming, 80 km cycling and 20 km running) and Triple Olympic (O3, 4 km swimming, 120 km cycling and 30 km running). In the version of the ITU Competition Rules from 2012, Long Distance was again drawn up and left the organizer scope to design the distances according to local conditions. In 2013, the designations O2 and O3 were deleted and the Middle Distance was introduced instead . Only the ÖTRV sports regulations still provide for the distances O2 and O3.

As more exotic variants, which do not fall under the rules of the ITU, ultra-triathlons are also held with distances that are many times the Ironman distance and often with a number of participants not exceeding two-digit numbers over several days. An example is the Ultraman swimming 10 km, cycling 421 km and running 84 km over three days, which takes place in Penticton, Canada and as Ultraman Hawaii .

Children and young people

Start of a triathlon for children
Transition area of ​​a triathlon for children

The maximum permissible distances for children and young people are regulated differently from country to country. In general, participation in popular triathlons is possible from the calendar year in which a young person turns sixteen. In Germany, the permissible roll length is limited for children and young people .

Maximum distance per age group for children and young people (S - R - L) a
Age b GermanyGermany Germany AustriaAustria Austria SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland FranceFrance France
from 6 0.05 - 1 - 0.2 c c 0.05 - 1 - 0.5
from 8 0.1 - 2.5 - 0.4 0.1 - 2.0 - 1.0
from 10 0.2 - 5 - 1 0.3 - 8 - 2 0.1 - 2.5 - 0.5 0.2 - 4.0 - 1.5
from 12 0.4 - 10 - 2.5 0.3 - 8 - 2 0.2 - 5 - 1 0.3 - 6.0 - 2.0
from 14 0.4 - 10 - 2.5 0.5-13.3-3.3 0.4 - 10 - 2.5 0.3 - 6.0 - 2.0
a Maximum distances per age group and sub-discipline in kilometers, d. E.g. for a six-year-old child in Germany a maximum of 50 m swimming, a maximum of 1 km cycling and a maximum of 200 m running.
b The relevant age is on December 31st of the competition year, not on the day of the competition
c The sports regulations of the Austrian and the Swiss Triathlon Association only stipulate maximum distances from the age of ten.

Well-known triathletes


See also: Leaderboards of German , Austrian and Swiss triathletes on the Ironman distance

  • Faris Al-Sultan at Ironman 70.3 Austria 2012
    Faris Al-Sultan from Munich won the German long distance championship for the first time at the age of 22 in 2000 in Kulmbach . In 2002 Al-Sultan became German champion over the middle distance in Immenstadt , in 2004 he was again German champion over the Ironman distance at Challenge Roth and third in the Ironman Hawaii. In 2005 Faris al Sultan won the Ironman Hawaii in a time of 8:14:17 h as the third German triathlete, and the following year he achieved third place. In 2011 he won the Ironman Frankfurt in 8:13:50 h.
  • Mark Allen (USA) won Hawaii 6 times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995). He started and won 10 times at the triathlon Longue Distance de Nice and was the first world champion on the Olympic distance (1989). Allen played his running strength together with his mental strength during his victories, which made him unbeatable for years. He also compensated for long distances after cycling with his running strength. In 1995 he caught up 13 minutes behind Thomas Hellriegel , a similar gap to Yves Cordier (France) in the final 30 km run in Nice.
  • Dirk Aschmoneit was a very successful triathlete in the 1980s and early 1990s, one of the first German characters to identify with in triathlon. He was the first German to win an Ironman (New Zealand). Even then, it was his strength on the bike that gave a German this victory.
  • Wolfgang Dittrich from Neuss regularly dominated the Ironman event until the mid-1990s. Dittrich was often the first to get out of the water, for example at every Ironman Hawaii from 1987 to 1993 (except for 1988). In 1991 and 1989 - the year of the Iron War between Allen and Scott - he was the first athlete to take to the running track. He never achieved a very big international victory because the other athletes usually drove tactically (see Mark Allen). In 1987 he became German champion, in 1988 he narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic Games in Seoul in the 1,500 m swim. His best placement in Hawaii was a third place in 1993.
  • Jan Frodeno at Ironman Germany 2014
    Jan Frodeno wonthe first gold medal for Germany in this sportat the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In 2015 he won the Ironman in Frankfurt with a new course record of 7:49:48 h. With his victory at the Ironman Hawaii 2015, he is the first triathlete to win the Olympic victory, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and the Ironman Hawaii. Since July 2016, he has held the world's best time of 7:35:39 hours on the long distance triathlon. As the first triathlete ever, Frodeno was voted Sportsman of the Year in 2015. In October 2019 he improved the course record of the Ironman Hawaii to 7:51:13 hours in his third victory.
  • Marcel Heinig is world champion in the 10-time long triathlon in 2008, overall world cup winner in 2008 in ultratriathletes and world record holder in the 10-day triathlon with a total of 75 km swimming, 2000 km cycling and 500 km running.
  • Thomas Hellriegel from Bruchsal is one of the most successful German triathletes on the long distance. With sixteen starts in Hawaii he made it into the top ten eight times and was the best German starter six times. In 1997 the Vice European Champion from 1993 was the first German to win the Ironman World Championship.
  • The musician Joey Kelly successfully took part in all of the then seven Ironman qualification competitions outside the USA within twelve months in 1997/98. Even if he ended up only in midfield, his starts ensured that triathlon was also reported in the Yellow Press . Kelly also started the Ironman Hawaii with a wildcard .
  • Sebastian Kienle won the Ironman Hawaii in 2014 as the fourth German and was the first triathlete to win both the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt and the Ironman World Championship in the same year. With 7:41:24 h, he is the fourth fastest Ironman of all time (as of November 2017).
  • Lothar Leder at Ironman Germany 2007
    Darmstadt's Lothar Leder was the first person in the world to complete the Ironman distance in less than eight hours ( Ironman Europe in Roth: 1996 in 7:57:02 h). The four-time German champion was able to win this competition five times as well as five other Ironman competitions - more than any other German. In 1994 he was runner- up behind Rob Barel .
  • The Australian Chris McCormack was world champion on the Olympic distance in 1997, switched to the Ironman distance in 2002 and won the Ironman Hawaii in 2007 and 2010. Before that, he won the Ironman Australia five times in a row from 2002 to 2006 . He also won the Quelle Challenge Roth four times in a row from 2004 to 2007 . In 2012 he became world champion on the long distance in Vitoria-Gasteiz .
  • Andreas Raelert won Ironman Germany in Frankfurt in 2010 and came second in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii that same year. There he has landed on the podium five times so far, more often than any other German. In 2011, at Challenge Roth, he set a new world record over the long triathlon distance of 7:41:33 h, which lasted until 2016.
  • The Swiss Ronnie Schildknecht is a seven-time winner in a row of the Ironman Switzerland (2007 to 2013) and was fourth at the Ironman Hawaii 2008.
  • Dave Scott (USA), like Mark Allen, won the Ironman Hawaii six times (1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987). Together with Scott Molina and Scott Tinley (both USA) they were the "Big Four" who made up almost every triathlon among themselves. Allen, Scott, and Tinley have published training literature or philosophies (Allen with Maffetone), which are standard literature to this day. They were the first to systematically complete triathlon training.
  • Mannheim's Normann Stadler won the Ironman Hawaii in 2004 as the second German after Thomas Hellriegel with an outstanding bike performance. He was able to repeat this victory on October 21, 2006, making him the first German with two titles at the Ironman Hawaii . The duathlon world champion from 1994 and five-time German champion won Ironman Germany in Frankfurt am Main in 2005 and has held the course record for the bike course in Hawaii since 2006.
  • Daniel Unger was the first German to win the Olympic distance title among professionals at the 2007 World Championships in Hamburg (1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running). At the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, the three-time German champion was sixth.
  • Luc Van Lierde (Belgium) competed in 1996 as reigning European champion and runner-up world champion on the Olympic distance with a wild card at the Ironman Hawaii, his first Ironman ever, and was immediately victorious. In 1999 he won again. In 1997 he won the fastest race ( Ironman Europe in Roth) that had ever existed before, in the world record of 7:50:27 h, which existed until July 3, 2011. He ran the final marathon in 2:36 hours. He also holds the course record at Ironman Malaysia. It was only Craig Alexander who succeeded in breaking his track record in Hawaii from 1996 in 2011. In 1997 in Nice and in 1998 in Sado, he became world champion on the long distance.
  • Marino Vanhoenacker (Belgium) won the Ironman Austria six times in a row between 2006 and 2011, before he won on July 3, 2011 in Klagenfurt with a time of 7:45:58 h (46:49 min swimming, 4:15:37 h cycling , 2:39:24 h run) was the first triathlete toundercut theworldrecordsince 1997 by his compatriot Luc Van Lierde by 4:29 minutes.
  • Stephan Vuckovic from Reutlingen won the silver medal at the Olympic premiere of the triathlon in Sydney in 2000. After moving to the long distance, he finished second in his first Ironman ever in Canada in 2005, and in Ironman Hawaii 2005 he finished tenth as the second best German. After a virus-related exit from Ironman Hawaii 2007, Vuckovic won the Ironman Florida in November 2007.
  • The Canadian Simon Whitfield won the first Olympic triathlon in Sydney in 2000 and only missed the double triumph in Beijing in 2008 by 5 seconds. Whitfield is characterized by its enormous constancy over all these years. Another great success was second place in the 2007 overall World Cup.
  • Jürgen Zäck won the Ironman Europe five times, once the Ironman Australia (1996), and twice the Ironman Austria . His quality on the bike often gave him a big lead over the final run, which he was able to win more often with increasing experience. In 1997, Zäck came second at the Ironman Hawaii. In 2006 he was banned for doping.
  • Patrick Lange won the Ironman in Hawaii for the first time in 2017 after finishing third on his debut in Hawaii a year earlier. He was able to successfully defend his title in Hawaii 2018 and was the first to stay below the magical limit of 8 hours with a total time of 7:52:39 h. With 2:39:45 h, he also holds the previous record in the marathon at Ironman Hawaii, which was set on his Hawaii debut in 2016.


See also: Best lists of German as well as Austrian and Swiss triathletes on the Ironman distance

  • The Austrian Kate Allen won gold at the Olympic Games in Athens. In addition to several top placements in the ITU World Cup series, the native Australian won three European silver medals. Kate Allen was one of the few athletes to be among the best in the world both in long distance competitions and over the Olympic distance. Her personal best over the Ironman distance in 8:54:01 h (Ironman Austria 2003) has only been beaten twice by Austrian triathletes. Kate Allen was twice fifth in Ironman Hawaii (2005, 2006).
  • The Swiss Natascha Badmann has won the Ironman Hawaii six times so far (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005). The vice-world champion of 2000 was also able to win the Ironman California and four times the Ironman South Africa.
  • Mirinda Carfrae won the Ironman Hawaii three times (2010, 2013 and 2014) and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2007. In 2005 she was runner-up in the long distance world championship.
  • Anja Dittmer qualified for participation in all four Olympic Games from 2000 to 2012, was European champion on the Olympic distance in 1999, is five-time German champion and in 2011, together with Rebecca Robisch , Maik Petzold and Steffen Justus, came third at the World Championship in Team Relay.
  • Ines Estedt was the only German triathlon world champion to date - twice: in 1997 and 2002 in the long distance. She also won the European Long Distance Championship in 1995.
  • With a second place in 2012 and a third place in 2013, Anne Haug is the most successful German so far at world championships over the Olympic distance. In 2013 she became world champion in Team Relay together with Anja Knapp, Jan Frodeno and Franz Löschke. In 2019 she was the first German to win the Ironman Hawaii.
  • Nina Kraft was third in 2001 and 2003 and second in Ironman Hawaii in 2002 and thus the most successful German in the Ironman World Championship. In 2004 she was the first woman to cross the finish line there, but later confessed to EPO doping and was therefore banned for two years. With a total of ten victories in Ironman competitions, she is also the best German from this point of view.
  • Julie Moss (USA) influenced the popularity of triathlon like no other by taking second place at the Ironman Hawaii in February 1982. The TV report, shown by ABC two weeks after the competition, became the most watched program of "Wide World of Sports" in 1982. Moss is also a three-time winner of the Ironman Japan (1985, 1986 and 1989) and came second in the 1982 Longue Distance de Nice triathlon .
  • Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf at the ITU Sprint Distance Triathlon World Championship 2010
    In 1994,
    Ute Mückel was the first German to place in the top ten at the Ironman Hawaii, which she did two more times. She was the best German in Hawaii four times in a row. In 1997 she set the fastest time on the swimming distance in Hawaii. In 1995 she was runner-up in the European long-distance championship, and she also won three Ironman competitions in her career.
  • Paula Newby-Fraser from Zimbabwe won the two most important long distance triathlon competitions of the 1980s and 1990s more often than any other woman: She won the Longue Distance de Nice triathlon four times in a row from 1989 and the Ironman Hawaii eight times (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991-1994, 1996). In addition, she held the world best time for women over the long distance for fourteen years with 8:50:53 h, set in 1994 at the Ironman Europe in Roth. It was not until July 13, 2008 that Yvonne van Vlerken was the first woman to undercut this time.
  • Daniela Ryf won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii four times (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018), four times the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018), twice the Ironman European Championship (2015 and 2018), twice the Ironman 70.3 European Championship (2013, 2014), 2014 the 5150 European Championship and is a two-time Swiss triathlon champion (2012, 2013). In 2008 she was an Olympian. In 2009 and 2010 she became world champion in Team Relay. In 2015, when she won the Ironman 70.3 Bahrain, she won the highest prize money in the history of triathlon: 1 million US dollars.
  • Nicola Spirig won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and was four times European champion, 2010 world champion and 2011 runner-up world champion in the Relay team.
  • Caroline Steffen was twice world champion in the long distance (2010, 2012), won the Ironman European Championship twice (2011, 2012) and was runner-up at the Ironman Hawaii in 2012.
  • In 2008, when she won the Ironman Austria, Sandra Wallenhorst was the first woman in the world to beat Paula Newby-Fraser's almost fourteen-year-old world record in a triathlon with the trademark “Ironman” in the event name in 8:47:25, albeit at the same time as Yvonne van Vlerken set a world record two minutes faster over the distance at Challenge Roth . Next to Nina Kraft, Wallenhorst is the only German who has achieved a podium finish at the Ironman Hawaii so far (2008). To date, her run split from 2008 (2:58:36 h) is the fastest of a German in Hawaii. She also won the Ironman Germany twice.
  • Chrissie Wellington (Great Britain) won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 in record time (2009) and the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt am Main in 2008. Also in 2008 she became long distance world champion in Almere. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 she won the Challenge Roth and each time she set a new world record on the long distance, most recently in 8:18:13 hours.

Procedure and rules

Set of rules

Slipstream problems at the Hamburg City Man 2007: According to the regulations, each participant has to keep a distance of 10 m from the athlete ahead.

The rules for triathlon are set out in the "Competition Rules" of the ITU and the sports regulations of the DTU , the competition regulations of Swiss Triathlon and the ÖTRV sports regulations and form the basis for the event's approval under sports law. Deviations are to be pointed out by the organizer in the competition announcement. For example, the organizer WTC has some regulations that describe deviations or additions to the competitions of its brands Ironman , Ironman 70.3 and 5150 .

Exchange bag in the first transition area of Ironman Germany 2013

Before the competition, the athlete sets up his place in the transition area, which during the competition can only be entered by athletes, helpers and judges . The check-in, during which the referees check the conformity of his material with the rules (e.g. no hazardous parts on the bike), often takes place the day before in competitions with a large number of participants, and two hours before the start of smaller competitions. The roll length is limited for children and teenagers . Each participant has a numbered space for his bike; in many competitions, all other personal items required for the two changes must be deposited separately in change bags. Due to local conditions, there are sometimes two separate transition zones at different locations for switching from swimming to cycling and cycling to running. In this case, the athlete often only gives his numbered change bag for the second changeover zone, which the organizer and his helpers usually take care of.

According to the water temperature measured by the judges at several positions on the swimming course at a depth of 60 cm, it will be announced whether it is permissible to wear a neoprene suit as protection against the cold (for competitions with age class ratings below 22 ° C on the short and below 23 ° C on the Medium and below 24 ° C on the long distance). If, depending on the distance and age group, the temperature falls below different levels, the swimming distance is shortened or swimming is even omitted completely.

While elite competitions are usually started from a pontoon , most competitions begin with a water start. Here all athletes are behind a line that is raised when the gun starts. The start usually takes place in several start groups, which are started every few minutes, in smaller competitions also as a mass start for all participants. Land starts take place less often. In recent years, so-called “rolling starts” have been increasingly introduced in competitions with a large number of participants, in which the athletes are given a clearance individually and run over a timing mat before they start . If the swimming takes place in open water, the route is marked by buoys .
For their own safety, it is permissible for participants to stand in suitable places such as B. buoys hold tight. The three competition courses are completed in uninterrupted sequence. Competition time continues during the transition from swimming to cycling and cycling to running. In the second discipline there is a strict helmet requirement, the chin strap of the helmet must be closed from the moment the bike is picked up until it is handed over before running. Markings show from where the bike can be climbed outside the transition area or where you have to get off at the latest before you switch to running. The road traffic regulations including right-hand driving rules apply on the bike course , slipstream driving is generally not permitted - except for national and international elite competitions up to the Olympic distance. In order to ensure that all athletes have the same conditions in the competition, it is prohibited to accept outside help during the entire competition, except from official volunteers of the organizer. The check-out, where the athletes pick up their equipment from the transition area, is usually only possible after the last participant has switched to the running track.

After drafting was approved for the first time at the World Short Distance Championship in November 1995 in Cancún , the last German and European short distance championships with no slipstream took place in Losheim and Szombathely in 1996 . Since then, there has been no slipstream ban at championships and international races over the Olympic distance - but only in the elite class. In all other competitions, it was still the case that a minimum distance of 10 m from the athlete in front and 1.5 m to the side when overtaking was maintained. In December 2003, the DTU initially decided to reduce this slipstream box for competitions up to the Olympic distance from 10 × 3 m to 5 × 2 m. Massive athlete protests, which were collected in an online petition initiated by Kai Baumgartner and Holger Spiegel, ensured that the DTU withdrew the rule change in February 2004. In 2016, the rules were changed so that a distance of twelve meters from front wheel to front wheel must now be maintained.

Anti-doping measures

Triathlon - also in the professional field - is characterized by individualists compared to cycling with its professional team structures. In addition, the income of professional triathletes is far below that of professional athletes in other sports. As in all sports, however, in triathlon there were again and again individual suspicions as well as proven cases of ingestion of illegal substances or the use of illegal methods to improve or maintain performance. Until the mid-2000s, due to a lack of standardized procedures and internationally agreed rules, despite positive tests, as with Scott Molina , Olivier Bernhard , Spencer Smith and Katja Schumacher , acquittals were made in many cases . In the sensational case of Nina Kraft's subsequent disqualification at the Ironman Hawaii 2004, her suspension was reduced for formal reasons.

Since 2002 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has also been charged with coordinating global anti-doping measures in triathlons. In Germany, the number of triathlon training tests carried out by the National Anti-Doping Agency Germany (NADA) increased from 101 in 2004 to 621 in 2014, and that of competition tests for triathlons from 80 to 203. In comparison: In 2014, almost 7 million members of the DFB 665 training controls carried out. In addition to the squad athletes , other athletes can also be included in the test pool for training controls on request, a prerequisite for entitlement to prize money at many events. Members of the test pool are obliged to report their whereabouts, including postal address and telephone number, and a time slot of at least 60 minutes during which they can be reached there, quarterly in advance.

In principle, amateurs also confirm with their start pass application that they recognize the anti-doping code and can therefore be subjected to random competition controls. At the 2007 World Cup, organized as part of the Hamburg City Man , doping controls were also carried out for amateurs for the first time.

Start pass / license

All national umbrella organizations issue starting passes or annual licenses for reasons of insurance, sports law and sports policy. The start pass or the annual license represents a contractual agreement between the athlete and his national umbrella organization, i.e. E.g. the German Triathlon Union (DTU), Swiss Triathlon or Triathlon Austria (ÖTRV). The athlete thereby recognizes the entire set of rules and in return is entitled to participate in championships of the ITU , the ETU and its national umbrella organization (DTU, Swiss Triathlon, ÖTRV, etc.) and their national associations and in league competitions up to the triathlon Bundesliga . In all other German triathlon events, any triathlete can start without a starting pass. As soon as the lengths of two of the distances 750 m in swimming, 20 km in cycling and 5 km in running (in duathlon 5 km in running, 20 km in cycling and 2.5 km in running) are exceeded by more than 10% in a competition participants who do not have a valid starter pass or an annual license must purchase a day license. These costs - which are variable to a certain extent depending on the competition distance and national association - are added to the entry fee. For frequent starters at triathlon events from the above-mentioned distances, a starting pass or an annual license is also interesting for financial reasons.

To apply for a starting pass, membership in a triathlon club or an association with a triathlon division is required. Only Swiss Triathlon also offers the possibility of direct membership for individuals. The start pass or the annual license is valid until the end of the calendar year and is always extended for another year if not terminated in good time. He identifies the triathlete as a member of his respective club, the regional association and the DTU or similar. The cost of the start pass or the annual license with the DTU and ÖTRV includes accident and liability insurance for individual training outside the club. Abroad, a triathlete can often only take part in a triathlon with a valid starting pass, regardless of the distance.


Water start at the Superfrog Triathlon in Coronado (2006). Almost all athletes use wetsuits - not only as protection against the cold, but also to optimize their position in the water.
Jan Frodeno (4) and Sebastian Kienle (3) bikes in the transition area of Ironman Germany 2014

Due to the young and new character of the sport, an open-minded approach to innovations in material development was evident from the start:

  • Swimming: The neoprene suit , which was originally worn to protect against the cold , has increasingly developed into a piece of sports equipment that has a positive effect on performance. Above all, elasticity, buoyancy and the reduction of water resistance have top priority in development today. Slightly weaker swimmers in particular benefit from the support provided by the material.
  • Cycling: Due to the ban on slipstream riding , the part of the competition on the bike places special demands on the material. The rule-compliant material for cycling is generally less strictly regulated than in classic cycling, which is why special triathlon bikes have been developed since the 1980s , including a. with handlebar attachments that contribute to an aerodynamically favorable seating position. In the 1990s, smaller, 26-inch wheels were also popular, but they disappeared after a few years. Since then, there has been a convergence between the triathletes' cycling equipment and the UCI-compliant time trial bikes . Aerodynamics on the one hand and ergonomics for cycling distances of up to 180 km on the other play a decisive role. Today that means: carbon frames with aerodynamic tubes and adapted geometries, spoke-reduced high-profile rims, e.g. Sometimes also combined with a disc rear wheel , reclining bars, special drinking bottle holders and other details. Combined with time trial helmets, the attempt is made to work on the aerodynamic optimum, which allows time savings of several minutes compared to classic material - depending on the length of the route. The aero handlebars ridden for the first time by Greg LeMond in a time trial in the Tour de France came from the triathlon scene.
In elite competitions with slipstream clearance, only bikes with triangular frames and classic racing handlebars are permitted. Semi-trailers are permitted as long as they do not protrude beyond the front line of the brake levers, but - in contrast to wheels when drafting is prohibited - may not contain any gear levers.
Cycling shoes for triathletes differ in some aspects from those for specialists: since socks are often dispensed with to optimize changing times, the upper material is often more air-permeable to allow the feet to dry faster. Baby powder is often used in shoes to further reduce moisture. Many triathletes fix their cycling shoes on the pedals at check-in and only put them on on the bike route. Therefore, there is often a loop on the heel that makes it easier for the athlete to pull the shoe over the heel while driving. Instead of several Velcro strips, there is often only one wide Velcro strip, which simplifies closing and later opening on the bike.
In order to start running with as little pre-load on the calf muscles as possible, Paula Newby-Fraser used cycling shoes as early as 2000, the contact of which on the pedals is further back to the ankle and the reduced lever reduces the load when cycling from under to back Thigh displaced. Even Diana Riesler , Daniela Ryf and Eva Dollinger use this "Mid Cleat position". There are both scientific studies that have positive and negative results.
  • Running: Since the start number may only be worn after cycling, but must be worn on the back there, but in front when running, start number bands have become established. These often also have loops for holding energy bars or gels. Tankas , "hickies" and elastic shoelaces are alternatives as a lacing system for a quick change to running shoes . Suppliers of compression stockings advertise improved blood circulation and lower muscular stress in the landing and push-off phase due to reduced muscle vibrations, but studies have not shown any benefit.

Related sports, extreme variants

  • In the cross triathlon (e.g. Xterra ), the bike route is contested on a mountain bike .
  • In spring and autumn in particular, there are duathlon competitions without the swimming discipline - held over long, medium and short distances in the order of running, cycling and then running.
  • There is also the variation of the cross duathlon , where a cross-country run replaces swimming and the bike course is completed on a mountain bike in the field.
  • In the winter triathlon , cross-country skiing replaces swimming. In 2014, the three disciplines of snowshoeing , speed skating and cross-country skiing were tested as a winter triathlon event for the first time . The aim is to integrate triathlon as a sport in the Olympic Winter Games .
  • Competitions in which running directly joins the swimming distance are called Ambathlon, Swim & Run or Aquathlon.
  • If a fourth discipline (such as kayaking or inline skating ) is added, these competitions are known as quadrathlon .
  • In the Swiss Gigathlon , which consists of five disciplines, daily distances of an average of 4 km swimming, 100 km racing bike, 50 km mountain bike, 25 km inline skating and 20 km running have to be covered over several days. The duration has varied between two and seven days in recent years.
  • In Radolfzell on Lake Constance there is a regular megathlon consisting of the disciplines swimming, racing biking, inline skating, mountain biking and running.

A small group of extreme athletes also contest ultra-triathlons, which extend over several lengths of the Ironman distance.



Web links

Commons : Triathlon  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Triathlon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations



Individual evidence

  1. Heiko Ziemainz, Wolfgang Rentschler: Mental training in the triathlon . A handbook for practitioners. In: Mental training in sport . tape 5 . Feldhaus, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-88020-606-9 .
  2. Heiko Ziemainz, Ulf Schmidt, Oliver Stoll: Psychology in endurance sports . Afra Verlag Paul Jung, Butzbach 2000, ISBN 3-932079-36-1 .
  3. USA Triathlon (Ed.): Complete triathlon guide . Human Kinetics, Champaign (Illinois) 2012, ISBN 978-1-4504-1260-5 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed February 23, 2016]).
  4. a b c Heiko Ziemainz: The sport of triathlon. Institute for Sport Science and Sport at the University of Erlangen , accessed on February 3, 2016 .
  5. Wilhelm Bloch: Before the brain cells “litter” it is better to be physically active for maximum mental performance. (PDF) (No longer available online.) DGSP , October 16, 2014, archived from the original on February 4, 2016 ; Retrieved November 8, 2015 .
  6. Lucy Smith: Triathlon Basics . Meyer & Meyer Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-89899-662-4 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed November 4, 2015]).
  7. H. Boecker, T. Sprenger, ME Spilker u. a .: The runner's high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain . In: Cereb. Cortex . tape 18 , no. November 11 , 2008, pp. 2523-2531 , doi : 10.1093 / cercor / bhn013 , PMID 18296435 .
  8. Georg Neumann, Arndt Pfützner, Kuno Hottenrott : The big book of the triathlon . Meyer & Meyer Verlag , Aachen 2010, ISBN 978-3-89899-595-5 ( limited preview ).
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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on March 5, 2016 .