Get Inspired: How to get into Triathlon

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The Brownlee brothers dad shares tales of the incredible competitive spirit that exists between his all-conquering triathlete sons.
Fast Answers
Why get into triathlon?Test yourself to the extreme! It's exciting and requires total determination and motivation.
Who is it for?There are various distances so there is something for everyone; from mini triathlons for kids all the way to long distance races. There are also a number of women only events.
Is there a cheap option?You can do your own triathlon - cycle to the pool, swim, then run when you get home.
What if I want a proper workout?Training for three activities will certainly keep you fit and healthy.
Can I take it to another level?Joining a club and entering a race is a great way to improve in a fun environment and maintain your interest and motivation.
Is there a disability option?Paratriathlon is very popular and caters for most disabilities. Find out how you can get involved below.
Is there a family option?Why not set up your own mini triathlon? Go for a swim, a bike ride and a short run all in a day.

For people of all ages and abilities wanting to take part, there are approximately 750 triathlon clubs in the United Kingdom with many of them offering taster sessions for people interested in taking up the sport. Use the websites of British Triathlon,Triathlon England,Triathlon Ireland,Triathlon Scotland and Welsh Triathlon to find your nearest club. There's Paratriathlon information & classifications on the British Triathlon paratriathlon pages, but it's also worth contacting your regional association.


Triathlon pushes people to the limits! Organised events start with a swim, then competitors complete a cycling section, before finishing with a run. Some races are based at swimming pools, but others involve an open water swim. Most open water events in the UK require you to wear a wetsuit, but it depends on the temperature of the water.

The cycling section can take place on open roads but some races are traffic free. It may take some time to get used to running after cycling, but it does get easier. If swimming's not your thing, you can enter a duathlon (run, bike, run) and if you don't have a bike, then an aquathlon (swim, run) could be another option.


The main triathlon season in the UK runs from May until September and there are loads of races to choose from. You can find a comprehensive list of races via the British Triathlon event finder. Triathlon England's Go Tri scheme is a fun way to get a taste of the sport without breaking the bank. You'll also find training advice and tips about transitioning from one discipline to another on their website. Local pool-based races are a great introduction to the sport if you are a first timer. Another good way to enter your first triathlon race is with friends as part of a relay team.

Achievable distances for all

If you're new to multi-sports then you might want to consider starting with a hugely fun supersprint triathlon (400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5k run.) A sprint distance race (750m swim, 20km bike, 5k run) is more challenging for your first introduction to the sport, but very achievable. While the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) is the same distance you may have seen raced by the Brownlee brothers at the Olympics.

Going Long

If you want an even bigger challenge, then you could consider entering a long distance triathlon, also known as an Ironman. The distances involved in an Ironman are: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run and competitors have 17 hours to complete all three elements. Training for an Ironman requires an immense amount of time and dedication, but the feeling when you cross the line makes it worthwhile. If you don't have 12-15 hours a week to train for a long distance triathlon, then you could look at entering a middle distance triathlon, also known as a half Ironman.


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Two-time Paralympic swimmer Lauren Steadman tells us about the challenges of switching from swimming to triathlon

Swimming, cycling and running are all popular sports amongst para-athletes so triathlon is the perfect way to combine the three. Triathlon is a very inclusive sport with British Triathlon organising many specific paratriathlon competitions through any given season. Use their club finder to locate a taster session near you. If you are looking to take the sport to another level and compete in paratriathlon at either a national or international level, the most important thing you need is a classification.

Kids and Youth

If your kids are keen to have a go, then get in touch with your local club to see if they have a junior section. Mini tri distances start from 50m swim, 800m bike, 600m run and there are a number of children's races in the British Triathlon event finder. British triathlon help to run a series of taster events specifically for kids. If your child shows promise as a youngster then perhaps the next step is the British Triathlon Youth & Junior Super Series. It's designed to bring together the best young British triathletes so they can race head-to-head in high performance events.

Age-group Triathlon

Age group triathlon is a great way to represent Great Britain on the international stage, even if you're not an elite athlete. If you're over 16, you can qualify for the GB age group team and compete in European and World Championship events in triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, winter and cross triathlon in pre-defined age-groups. To find out more, go to the British Triathlon age group FAQ page, or contact your regional governing body.

Coaching and volunteering

Whether you've competed in triathlon in the past or just have an interest in developing talent in cycling, swimming or running, coaching opportunities are available through the British Triathlon Federation. You can also find out about volunteering opportunities with them and Sport Coach UK can also steer you in the right direction.

Volunteers really make an event work, and ensure the experience for the athletes is that bit more special. There's always a great atmosphere at these events and you can be part of it! You may also receive a race crew T-shirt and a packed lunch. For other opportunities, you could also try Volunteer Scotland and Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland, while, right across Britain, JoinInUK can try to help you find a club that needs some help.

Aspire to be like: Karl Hunt

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into triathlon near you

2. Find your local club by using British Triathlon's club finder.

3. Share your story and inspire others

Are you inspired to try triathlon? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your story by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.