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Triathlon is a rather recently evolved sports. Full overview of the history of triathlon embraces France where the first competitions consisting of all three disciplines were held at the beginning of the 20th century; Scandinavia where athletes competed at endurance events at various distances throughout the year; and the United States of America where the first triathlon race took place in 1974. It consisted of 805 m swimming, 8 km biking and 8 km running.

The very first Ironman triathlon (3.8 km swimming, 180 km biking, 42.2 km running) was held in Hawaii (USA) in 1978. The winner’s time was 11 hours 46 minutes 58 seconds. Nowadays the ultra distance has become basically a public sports event. More and more ordinary people bring their limits to the test every year, desiring to pass such an imposing distance. At present the fastest overall course completion time at the Hawaiian distance is 8 hours 03 minutes and 56 seconds by Craig Alexander in 2011. The current Ironman course record of 7 hours 41 minutes 33 seconds was set in Roth, Germany by Andreas Raelert in 2011.

The Olympic distance consisting of 1.5 km swimming, 40 km biking and 10 km running gained popularity in Europe during the 1980s. At the end of the same decade the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was introduced in order to improve and centralize the activities of various triathlon organizations. Nowadays ITU is one of the leading triathlon organizations in the world.

In addition to the traditional triathlon distances, different variations of competitions have developed, using common triathlon disciplines or combining them with nonstandard conditions.

  • cross triathlon – the usual road race stage is replaced with a mountain biking stage, likewise the usual running stage is replaced with a cross-country run.
  • duathlon – yet consisting of three stages, the swim stage is replaced with running, making it a run-bike-run competition
  • pool triathlon – the swim stage takes place in the pool, whereby the starting order at the following biking stage is based on the rankings of the swimming course, using the Gundersen method (the best swimmer gets to take off first)
  • winter triathlon – involving courses of running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing all on snow.

 

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