Taking On The Triathlon

When three sports are crammed into one, you know it's bound to get serious

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

So you think you are in shape? You do some jogging throughout the week, maybe some Pilates. You even hit the gym once in a while to pump some iron, and by gosh, you have the guns to prove it. But let's get real, you may be in shape but compared to the guys and gals that do this weeks obscure sport, the triathlon, you might as well have an iv of Twinkies hooked up to you while lounging around the couch watching Dr. Phil all day.

There's no comparison.

Don't believe me? Well, then let's take a closer look at what all goes into doing a triathlon. Triathlon, as shown by the 'tri' part of the word, is traditionally a three sport event that tests the participant endurance and will to compete. The three sports that are featured in a triathlon is swimming, biking, and running; usually in that order.

The people involved usually start by swimming first before hitting the first transition stage to get set for the second part of the event, cycling. They then bike to a second transition stage where they can get ready for the final part of the event, running. The person with the fastest time wins and the clock is continuously running from the moment the starting gun is fired before everyone heads for the water.

The endurance part of this comes in the distances that these athletes must cover in each stage. In a normal traditional event, the one used in the Olympics, the distances for each stage is the following; 1.5 km (0.93 mi) swimming, 40 km (24.8 mi) cycling, and 10 km (6.2 mi) running. That's a lot of ground to cover using a variety of muscles that aren't normally pressed in conjunction.

Overall, it sounds pretty crazy. But wait, there's more, as the traditional Olympic distances are also considered the 'short course'. There are four more styles of triathlons that cover larger distances, with the Iron Man one being the longest. It consists of the following distances; 3.86 km (2.4 mi) swimming, 180 km (112 mi) cycling, and 42.2 km (26.2 mi) running.

Yikes, that wears me out just typing it!

These events aren't just held for the prestige of finishing them, though many participants do participate to test themselves and to see if they can do it, they can also net you some serious cash if you are consistently good at them. As of October, the leading earner in the triathlon has earned over $200,000 doing it, even though the person, Tim Don, has never been ranked higher than #3 in the world.

Let's face it, the majority of people are never going to be in shape enough (or crazy enough) to participate in an event such as this but for the people who do, my hat is off to you for your dedication, you fitness level, and your will to pit yourselves against the limits of your own body. Personally, my limits extend to walking to the kitchen to get a soda and a hot dog, so what you do, is frankly amazing.