Triathlon distances vary widely, ranging from 16 total miles for traditional sprint distance triathlons to over 140 miles for Ironman. While most beginners start with sprint triathlons, the life of most passionate triathletes will eventually test the waters with Olympic and long-course triathlons.
Below is information on average triathlon distances for various race types, as well as average times for age grouper and professional caliber triathletes. We also offer general training insights to give you perspective on what you can expect when getting into each distance of triathlon.
Triathlon Distances in Miles & Kilometers
|Sprint Triathlon||0.5 miles (750m)||12.4 miles (20km)||3.1 miles (5km)|
|Olympic Triathlon||0.93 miles (1.5km)||24.8 miles (40km)||6.2 miles (10km)|
|ITU Long Course Triathlon||1.86 miles (3km)||49.6 miles (80km)||12.4 miles (20km)|
|Half Ironman / 70.3 Triathlon||1.2 miles (1.9km)||56 miles (90.1km)||13.1 miles (21.1km)|
|Full Ironman Triathlon||2.4 miles (3.9km)||112 miles (180.2km)||26.2 miles (42.2km)|
How Long is a Triathlon? It Depends on the Distance
Because triathlon is such a wide-ranging sport, there isn’t a cut and dry answer to the question“how long is a triathlon?” Use the quick links below to learn more about the distances and types of triathlon, as well as average times for age groupers and professionals.
- Sprint Distances
- Olympic Distances
- 70.3/Half-IM Distances
- Ironman Distances
Keep in mind that because Ironman distance triathlons are 7x the distance to that of sprint triathlons, the volume and intensity of training is dramatically different on either end of the spectrum.
In addition to both average and good times for each distance, below we offer training tips and expectations for spring, Olympic, and Ironman/long-course distance triathlons.
For beginners just entering the triathlon scene, completing a sprint distance race is typically the most common place to start. Sprint triathlon distances include swimming 0.5 miles (750 meter/2,460 feet), cycling 12.4 miles (20 kilometers), and running 3.1 miles (5 kilometers). The length of a sprint triathlon is a perfect entry-level distance for beginners, but it’s also a sufficient distance for athletes of all levels looking to fine-tune their transitions and gain more race experience.
Average Sprint Triathlon Times
At first glance, the word “sprint” might seem overreaching for an event that can take 2 hours or more to finish; but take into consideration the perspective of a professional triathlete. Depending on elevation and conditions, a sprint distance triathlon might take around 1 hour or less for pros, while Ironman distance triathlons usually finish between 8 and 10 hours for elite-caliber triathletes.
When you break down each leg of a sprint triathlon, it’s easier to view each leg as a strong, concerted effort (versus a lower-effort, well-paced effort like Ironman). In other words, athletes can often maintain an anaerobic or higher level of energy output over the course of a 60-90 minute race. Conversely, long-course triathlon training often requires greater endurance-building and anaerobic training. That being low-intensity, high volume training.
While building endurance is important for both sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, competitive triathletes focus on speedwork, drills, and fast transitions. Coming out of the water early is also important, so learning to become an efficient swimmer is vital to becoming a better triathlete. But also consider the bike and run make up a vast majority of the mileage in a sprint or super distance triathlon. Fast cyclists and runners will often regain tremendous ground, even with a mediocre swim.
Learn more about different types of sprint triathlon distances.
Olympic triathlon distances are a 0.93-mile (1.5-kilometer) swim, 24.8-mile (40-kilometer) bike, and 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) run, exactly double the length of a sprint triathlon.
If you’ve ever watched an Olympic, ITU, or SuperLeague triathlon online or on television, then you’re probably familiar with the level of intensity and efficiency that’s displayed by pro triathletes. Not only are transition times mere seconds, but the overall pace is often extremely fast, hovering just above a 5-minute mile run pace.
Average Olympic Triathlon Times
High-caliber professionals will often finish Olympic triathlons in around 2 hours or less, with the men’s record currently at just over 1 hour, 46 minutes. But for top age groupers, Olympic distance triathlon times typically range between 2 and 2 ½ hours. At any rate, Olympic triathlons require diligent pacing, energy management, and sufficient stamina. Because distances are double that of a sprint triathlon, most athletes spend over an hour on the bike, only to run 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) directly afterward.
The graduation to Olympic distance triathlon requires greater dedication to training. Allocating time early in the season to cultivate endurance, build strength, and prevent injury is important for athletes of all skill levels. However, attention to speedwork, while still critical for competitive triathletes, is less of a priority for newbies looking to level-up from sprint triathlon distances.
For cases of beginners and amateurs racing their first Olympic distance triathlon, finish times can often extend beyond 3 hours. In other words, building endurance, efficiency, and strength can offer greater rewards for new athletes versus focusing on speedwork and intensity.
Learn more about Olympic distance triathlon.
Long course triathlon or “Iron-distance” is often an umbrella term used to describe both Ironman and half-Ironman distance triathlon. Half-Ironman’s are also called “70.3” races based on the combined mileage for all three disciplines (full-Ironman distance is 140.6 miles).
Half-Ironman or 70.3 triathlon distances entail swimming 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers), cycling 56 miles (90 kilometers), and running 13.1 miles (21.09 kilometers), or a half marathon.
Similar to how sprint distance triathlons compares to Olympic, the length of a full-Ironman triathlon is double the distance of each leg in a 70.3. In turn, Ironman distances involve a 2.4-mile (3.9 kilometers) swim, 112-mile (180.2 kilometers) bike ride, and run 26.2-mile (42.2 kilometers) run.
On the professional level, half-Ironman distance triathlons fringe on near sprint distance speeds. The fastest 70.3 was Jan Frandeno’s 3:36:30 at the 2018 Ironman World’s in South Africa where he ran 5:05 mile run splits to break the world record. Such speeds also point to other top-performing Olympic distance pros like Javier Gómez and Alistair Brownlee who have entered the Iron-distance scene with great success. An equally impressive fastest time for full Ironman distance triathlon was Tim Don’s 7:40:23 in 2017.
While average professional times range between 4-5 hours for 70.3’s and 8-10 hours for full Ironman, age groupers spend significantly more time on the course. For top age-groupers, good times on moderately difficult courses can range between 5-6 hours for 70.3 and 10-12 hours for Ironman. But for busy athletes who have minimal time training, you can expect 6-7+ hour half Ironman and 13+ hour full Ironman distance events.
In most cases, 70.3 triathlons are more approachable for amateurs and age grouper athletes, as the level of commitment and training substantially escalates for full Ironman triathlons. For most athletes, the preparation to swim over 2 miles, cycle over 100 miles, and run a marathon is a massive undertaking. Factor-in family, work, and other life demands, and time allocation for Ironman training can be a difficult balancing act.
Both amateur and professional triathletes often benefit from triathlon coaching and working with a great coach who aligns with an athlete’s objectives with the right training plan, support, and attention. Working with an Ironman coach can not only be helpful for motivation and accountability but also providing structured training plans that are custom-programmed to an athlete’s goals, skill level, and lifestyle.
FAQs about Triathlon Distances
It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before lining up at the start of any triathlon. There’s a lot of preparation and planning that goes into a race, however, your level of fitness will often dictate your success and overall experience. Below we share a few FAQs regarding triathlon distances.
What distance should my first triathlon be?
Most beginner athletes start with a Sprint distance race for their first triathlon. While the distance of Sprint triathlons can vary from race to race, the standard length of each leg is a 0.5 miles (750m) swim, 12.4 miles (20km) bike, and 3.1 miles (5km) run.
How long is an Ironman triathlon?
As the pinnacle distance in the triathlon world, the length of an Ironman includes a 2.4-mile (3.9-km) swim, 112-mile (180.2-km) bike, and 26.2-mile (42.2-km) run, totalling 140.6 miles (226.3 kilomters). Ironman, the primary governing body of this triathlon distance, also has holds 70.3 events, or half-Ironman races that are exactly 50% the distance of full Ironman lengths mentioned above.
What are average Ironman times?
Based on Ironman finisher data averaged across a five-year span (2015-2019), we were able to calculate average Ironman finisher times across both male and female age groupers and professionals, including average times in the swim, bike, run, and both transition.
Ironman Age Grouper Men: 12:25
- Swim: 1:15
- Bike: 6:05
- Run: 4:40
- T1+T2: 0:25
Ironman Age Grouper Women: 13:30
- Swim: 1:20
- Bike: 6:40
- Run: 5:05
- T1+T2: :25
Ironman Professional Men is 8:40
- Swim: 0:52
- Bike: 4:35
- Run: 3:04
- T1+T2: :09
Ironman Professional Women is 9:35
- Swim: 0:59
- Bike: 5:05
- Run: 3:21
- T1+T2: :10
This data reflects 5-year median finisher time statistics (2015-2019) sourced from obstri.com.
How long is each leg of a triathlon?
In simple terms, each leg of a triathlon can be broken down by the following distances in miles (and kilometers):
- Sprint Triathlon: Swim 0.5 miles (750m), Bike 12.4 miles (20km), Run 3.1 miles (5km),
- Olympic Triathlon: Swim 0.93 miles (1.5km), Bike 24.8 miles (40km), Run 6.2 miles (10km)
- ITU Long Course Triathlon: Swim 1.86 miles (3km), Bike 49.6 miles (80km), Run 12.4 miles (20km)
- Half Ironman / 70.3 Triathlon: Swim 1.2 miles (1.9km), Bike 56 miles (90km), Run 13.1 miles (21.09km)
- Full Ironman Triathlon: Swim 2.4 miles (3.8km), Bike 112 miles (180km), Run 26.2 miles (42.195km)
Below is an image of this information, if needed for quick reference.
Triathlon run distances: How many miles do you run in a triathlon?
The run, which is the final leg of a standard triathlon, is comprised of the following distances per race:
- Sprint Triathlon: 3.1 miles (5km) Run
- Olympic Triathlon: 6.2 miles (10km) Run
- ITU Long Course Triathlon: 12.4 miles (20km) Run
- Half Ironman / 70.3 Triathlon: 13.1 miles (21.09km) Run
- Full Ironman Triathlon: 26.2 miles (42.195km) Run
Triathlon bike distances: How many miles do you bike in a triathlon?
The bike, which is the second leg of a standard triathlon, is comprised of the following distances per race:
- Sprint Triathlon: 12.4 miles (20km) Bike
- Olympic Triathlon: 24.8 miles (40km) Bike
- ITU Long Course Triathlon: 49.6 miles (80km) Bike
- Half Ironman / 70.3 Triathlon: 56 miles (90km) Bike
- Full Ironman Triathlon: 112 miles (180km) Bike
Average Triathlon Times for Ironman & 70.3 (Infographic)
Triathlon Distance Chart
Please feel free to use or download this image, which is the same table of triathlon distances above.