The sport of triathlon has soared in popularity in recent years. The British Triathlon Association reports that over 200,000 people attempted a triathlon in 2019, and numbers are fast recovering after a few years of pandemic disruptions. In fact, the multi-discipline combination of swimming, cycling and running is the fastest growing sport in the UK.
This is a fantastic achievement when you consider that the first recorded triathlon only took place in Britain in 1983, and the event had only been introduced to the world 9 years earlier, in San Diego in 1974. The sport really moved into the spotlight in the UK during the 2012 Olympics in London, when the Brownlee brothers took gold and bronze medals.
One of the reasons the sport is so popular is because of the all-round levels of fitness that it develops. From strength training to cardiovascular workouts, it’s hard to beat training for a triathlon as an exercise programme. It’s a demanding sport for sure, but it can bring an amazing sense of achievement.
That said, taking part in your first triathlon can be a daunting prospect. There are three main categories: The sprint distance that comprises a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5k run. The standard Olympic distance involves a 1500m swim, a 40km bike ride and 10km run. Then there’s the Ironman: 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42km run.
There are also a couple of other categories, including the super-sprint distance, which is the shortest event of all. It involves a very manageable 400m swim, a 10 km cycle ride, and a 2.5km run.
If you are taking part in your first triathlon, the supersprint or sprint distance is probably the best introduction to a competitive event, unless you are already superfit and used to taking part in sporting events. Here are some of the best beginner triathlons in the UK.
London Triathlon, 5-6 August 2023
The London Triathlon is a great first choice for a beginner, with both super-sprint and sprint categories over largely flat ground. It also takes place across the city centre, so you will pass some familiar landmarks for a morale-boost along the way! There are plenty of travel and accommodation options available, and expect large crowds to cheer you on.
Blenheim Palace Triathlon, Oxfordshire, 3-4 June 2023
This event offers super-sprint and sprint categories, and is also set in ideal conditions in the grounds of the historic Blenheim Palace. The route is described as ‘undulating’ so there will be plenty of interest and variation, not to mention the beautiful formal gardens and stately home to enjoy along the way.
Castle Howard Triathlon, North Yorkshire, 23-24 July
This event offers a broad range of categories, including the very accessible Starter Triathlon, which consists of a 200m swim, a 10 km cycle ride, and a 2.5km run. THen there’s the Sprint, Super-sprint, and Sprint-Plus (800m swim, 40km bike ride, and 8km run).There’s also beautiful sights to enjoy over the varied hilly countryside.
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