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Yoga Korunta

Life & Politics

Location: United States

One learns, as nothing endures but change.

26 March 2007

Tuesday's Word: triathlon

Triathlon is an athletic event consisting of swimming, cycling and running. In most modern triathlons, these events are placed back-to-back in immediate sequence and a competitor's official time includes the time required to "transition" between the individual legs of the race, including any time necessary for changing clothes and shoes.

According to former Ironman Champion, triathlon historian and author Scott Tinley, the origin of Triathlon is anecdotally attributed to a race in France during the 1920-1930s that was called "Les trois sports", "La Course des Débrouillards" and "La course des Touche à Tout". The sport made its debut on the Olympic program at the Sydney Games. The history of the sport is documented in Scott Tinley's book, "Triathlon: A Personal History" (Velo Press, 2002).

How a triathlon works
In a typical triathlon, racers arrive at the venue to set up their spots in the "transition area". Here they will generally have a rack to hold their bicycles and a small area of ground space for shoes, clothing, etc. Racers run out of the water and attempt to change from their swim gear into cycling gear as rapidly as possible. The cycling stage proceeds around a marked course and finishes back at the transition area, where racers rack their bicycles and change quickly into running shoes before heading out for the final stage. In most races, "aid stations" located on the bike and run courses provide water and energy drinks to the athletes as they pass through.

Rules of triathlon
Traditionally, triathlon is an individual sport: each athlete is competing against the course and the clock for the best time. As such, athletes are not allowed to receive assistance from anyone else inside or outside the race, with the exception of race-sanctioned aid volunteers who distribute food and water on the course. Should a competitor's bike malfunction he may proceed with the race as long as it is done with the bicycle in tow.

Triathlon and fitness
Triathletes tend to be extraordinarily fit, and many amateur athletes choose triathlon specifically for its fitness benefits. Because all three events are endurance sports, nearly all of triathlon training is cardiovascular exercise.

Triathletes will use their legs less vigorously and more carefully than other swimmers, conserving their leg muscles for the cycle and run to follow. Many triathletes use altered swim strokes to compensate for turbulent, aerated water and to conserve energy for a long swim.

Triathlon cycling is very different from most professional bicycle racing because it does not allow drafting.

The primary distinguishing feature of running in a triathlon is that it occurs after the athlete has already been exercising in two other disciplines for an extended period of time, so many muscles are already tired.

Legendary and well-known events
Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of individual triathlons are held around the world each year. A few of these races are legendary and/or favorites of the triathlon community because they have a long history, or because they have particularly grueling courses and race conditions. A few are listed here.

Hawaii Ironman World Championship, Escape from Alcatraz, Wildflower, Life Time Fitness Triathlon, HP Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, Enduroman "Arch to Arc Challenge," Chicago Triathlon.




Blogger barbie2be said...

hehehehehe! i are a triathlete! :)

Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

I'm not quite a triathlete but used to run middle distance races. At present, I wish to participate as the swimmer on a tri team.

Blogger barbie2be said...

the swim portion nearly killed me even though i trained for 8 months and was a swimmer in high school.

it's very different to swim in a lake than it is in the pool by yourself. :(

Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

Lake training will be a new experience. There aren't many places where it would be reasonable to drive. The greatest problem is that lakes tend to be surrounded by private property.


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