TRIATHLON Which race and distance are the best for you?

What’s the distance?
Triathlon is a multi-sport race, most commonly swimming, cycling and running.

Triathlons are held over many different terrains, with pool or open-water swims, and a wide range of race distances. These are some of the most common:

Supersprint: 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run. A speed-fest with finish times less than 1 hour – also a good beginner distance.

Sprint: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. The gateway drug for most people! These are relatively short races with finish times of ~1-1.5 hours. If in doubt, this is the place to start.

Olympic: 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run. The standard Olympic and World Triathlon Series distance is a somewhat longer race, but a good test of speed and endurance. Finish times are generally ~2-3 hours.

Middle Distance/Half Ironman (or Ironman 70.3): 1900m swim, 90km bike, 21km run. This is where life gets a bit more grueling, but a great distance as it’s long enough to make a good destination event, but short enough to train for alongside a normal life. Finish times are generally ~4.5-6.5 hours.

Full Distance/Long Distance/Ironman: 3800m swim, 180km bike, 42km run. This is a serious undertaking and one of the hardest one-day events. It’s a defining achievement for some and an addiction for others. Expect training to take over your life for 6 months prior to the race. Finish times range from 8 hours (gods) to 10-14 hours (mortals) and up to 17 hours (the cut-off for those just wanting to finish).

Where can I race?
Races are held all over the world so you can enjoy combining races with exotic holidays, or stay closer to home with the ever-increasing number of friendly, well-run local races. .

When’s the season?
The season more or less coincides with warm weather. In the UK and Europe, races run from April to October with the peak of activity in the summer months. If you still want more, or if the British winter is just too miserable, head to Asia, Australia and the southern hemisphere.

Is there a league?
We love racing in the British Triathlon London League, a series of 13 races held each year to determine the fastest individuals and clubs in the London region.

The series includes triathlon, aquathlon (swim-run) and duathlon (run-bike-run). Races are fast and frenetic, with fierce competition between local rivals, but lots of fun for beginners and experienced athletes alike.

MULTI-SPORT If three is too crowded, try duathlon or aquathlon…

Duathlon is a run-bike-run race. They are great events in their own right or as part of endurance training, with many different terrains (on- and off-road) and distances.

Aquathlon is a swim followed by a run – you often find these based at a swimming pool, but increasingly, races are being held at open water venues.

Swim-run is an evolution from aquathlon and an increasingly popular form of adventure multi-sport.
Competitors, often in pairs, alternate running and swimming many times along a course crossing land and sea.

Where can I race?
Close to London, there is the London Duathlon, held in Richmond Park and the Ballbuster at Box Hill.
For aquathlon, there are several races in the London League, as well as the popular Tooting Bec race series. For more extreme swim-run events, check out the OtillO series which originated in Sweden, and now stages a UK race in the Isles of Scilly.

When’s the season?
The season more or less coincides with warm weather. In the UK and Europe, races run from April to October with the peak of activity in the summer months. If you still want more, or if the British winter is just too miserable, head to Asia, Australia and the southern hemisphere.

CROSS-COUNTRY Run in the winter Surrey XC league or find trails throughout the year…

Enjoy the mud and hills in the Surrey Cross-Country League

What’s the distance?
The Surrey League Cross-Country consists of 4 races. The men’s races are 9km, and the women’s races are 6km.

Where can I race?
The series takes us to all sorts of exotic locations, from Richmond and Wimbledon, to Croydon and Coulsdon. They’re super-friendly local races with a great atmosphere, and attract runners of all abilities. A real highlight of the winter months, we often use these races as a good excuse for an evening social.

When’s the season?
The league comprises 4 races in the Surrey area starting in October and finishing in February. It will almost certainly be cold, wet and very muddy, basically perfect conditions for cross-country. The season also coincides with peak cake-baking activity for effective post-race recovery.

Is there a league?
Yes. The clubs battle it out over the season with promotion and relegation at stake. The final standings are often only decided at the final race, and may be separated by the results of just a few runners – so we like to get a big group to each race.

TIME TRIALS Reach your personal best, speed through a 10 mile or 100 mile time trial…

Get aero and speed through a 10, 25 or 50 mile time trial…

How does it work?
It’s just you and your bike, against the clock. Time trials are an excellent way of sharpening your bike fitness and developing your power – “The Race of Truth”, with no drafting, and the clock ticking.

Where can I race?
We are members of the West London Combine, a local time trial series over 10, 25 and 50 miles near Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. The target for the top guns is to beat 24mins, 1 hour and 2 hours respectively.

There are also some 10.5 mile time trials organised by London Dynamo in Richmond Park in the summer, which are a great way of benchmarking your fitness & speed.

When’s the season?
The 10 races in the West London Combine start with a chilly 10-miler in March, and end with a tough hill climb TT in October (the latter being 2-3 minutes of lung-bursting, eyeball-popping effort!)

Is there a league?
No league, but the results are published so you can benchmark your progress against yourself, your teammates, or competitors from other clubs.

SINGLE SPORTS Marathons to sportives, ultra-marathons to Tour de France stages…

What’s the distance?
There are lots of events out there which will take you to beautiful places and push you to your limits.

Sportives and Gran Fondo:
Cycling sportives are personal challenge rides allowing you to test your legs against the distance and the clock. They are not races. Routes usually range from 50 to 200 km. Take a look at the Tour of Wessex, Dragon Ride, Ride London, La Marmotte and the Maratona dles

You have a message of victory to deliver? You’re called Pheidippides? Then you’d better get running! The marathon legend dates back to ancient Greece but the official distance was established in the UK. They are distance-running royalty, and often amazing mass-participation events.

Ultra-marathons are any running events longer than a marathon. They range from 50km to cross-nation events. You know you’re doing something quite special when a marathon is a training run!

Where can I race?
Sportives are everwhere! Often organised by small scale outfits, such as cycling clubs, there will be held in the most weird and wonderful places. Many have great feed stations with amazing homemade cakes.

Most major cities now host a marathon – from the iconic London Marathon to the Marathon du Médoc through French vineyards, you could travel the world running marathons.

For ultra-marathons, the Thames Path provides the course for a few locally, as do the South and North Downs. If you are feeling more epic, head to one of the Endurancelife coastal trail runs in the UK, or to the Alps and the Rockies for the more adventurous.

When’s the season?
The season is year round. Peak season for sportives tends to be spring/early summer and autumn.