Sprint Triathlon Distances:
How Long is a Sprint Triathlon?
As the name implies, sprint triathlons are the shortest category of races. Sprint triathlon distances include swimming 0.5 miles (750 meters/2,460 feet), cycling 12.4 miles (20 kilometers), and running 3.1 miles (5 kilometers).
|Sprint Triathlon||0.5 miles (750m)||12.4 miles (20km)||3.1 miles (5km)|
|Super Sprint Triathlon||0.3 miles (500m)||6.2 miles (10 km)||1.6 miles (2.5 k)|
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The length of a sprint tri is a perfect entry-level distance, especially for beginners or experienced athletes looking to practice and shakeout their gear.
Some events are modified or shortened, which has coined the “super sprint triathlon,” which is the shortest distance with a defined measurement. Super sprints usually consist of swimming 0.3 miles (500 meters/1,640 feet), cycling 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), and running 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers).
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Sprint Triathlon Length: Great for Beginners
In addition to duathlons, starting with a sprint triathlon is typically the most common place to begin for beginners entering the world of multisport. The word “sprint” might seem ridiculous for an event that can take 2 hours or more to finish. However, take into consideration the perspective of a professional triathlete. Depending on elevation and conditions, a sprint distance triathlon can take about 1 hour or less for pros; meanwhile, 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 (and perhaps investing in a good triathlon wetsuit) is helpful to be competitive in sprint triathlons. But also consider the bike and run make up a vast majority of the mileage in a sprint distance triathlon. Although a tri bike is not necessary, fast cyclists and runners will often regain tremendous ground, even with a mediocre swim.