Triathlon & Multisport FAQ
Last edited on 26/12/12 at 3:34 am
What is ITU?
The International Triathlon Union is the world governing body for the Olympic Programme sport of triathlon and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). ITU is also the world governing body for all related multi-sports such as duathlon, aquathlon, winter triathlon and long distance triathlon. The ITU was founded in 1989 in Avignon, France, where the first triathlon world championships were held. It is now headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and has over 120 affiliated national federations around the world.
For further information, see the ITU History page.
What is triathlon?
Triathlon is an activity that combines swimming, cycling and running in one event. The three sports are performed consecutively with no breaks. The portion of a triathlon where athletes change from one sport to the next is called a transition.
For more information about triathlon, including format and distances, see the About Triathlon page.
Other sports in the triathlon family (multisport):
Duathlon - Combining the sports of running and cycling, an elite distance duathlon consists of a 10km run – 40km cycle – 5km run. Involving high levels of stamina and power, duathlon is sometimes regarded to be harder than triathlon. ITU World Championships are held over the standard distance and long distance.
Aquathlon - Aquathlon is effectively a triathlon without a cycling component. Usually a run-swim-run, although occasionally a swim-run, the event is fast and furious, often taking just half an hour to complete at the elite level. The ITU Aquathlon World Championships are often held alongside the ITU Triathlon World Championships.
Winter triathlon - Making use of mountainous terrain, winter triathlon is rapidly growing across Europe and North America. Athletes start with a run before switching to mountain biking and finally cross-country skiing. All three disciplines are contested on snow with courses set out so that winning times take between 80 and 90 minutes.
Paratriathlon - Formerly known as ‘Athletes With A Disability’, paratriathlon involves the categorization of disabled athletes into their respective impairments allowing fair and competitive racing between different classes.
Team triathlon - Making its debut as a mixed event in 2009, but previously as a same sex event, team triathlon involves national teams of four athletes, each completing a small triathlon before tagging their compatriot. Races are incredibly fast and require high levels of power.
Long distance triathlon - Long distance triathlon events are held over either double or triple Olympic distance. Athletes require high endurance as races can take up to seven hours to complete. Drafting is not permitted during the cycle leg of the event.
How often should I train?
The amount of training depends on the ability and experience of the athlete. There are general suggestions for maintaining ability, improving ability slowly, and improving more quickly.
See our age group training page for more.
What is an age group triathlete?
An age grouper is an amateur triathlete who races in triathlons within their age group, and competes against others who are of same age and sex. Age groupers make up over 90% of all triathletes and are, because of their large numbers, a key part of events.
What is an elite triathlete?
An elite triathlete is someone who is extremely proficient at piecing together the three sports of swimming, cycling and running. They will train for many hours a week, race against the best athletes in the world and are entered into the top competitions by their National Federations. Elite triathletes aspire to compete at the Olympic Games.
How do I sign up for ITU age group races?
ITU events, such as continental and world championships, require athletes to qualify for their national teams. Triathlon is unique in that age group, or amateurs, can compete against each other in internationally recognized competition within their five year age bracket. Many National Federations hold qualification events to determine their best athletes. Contact your national federation for more details on qualifying for ITU Age Group races. ITU Age Group racing is very competitive, however every Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series race have an age group race, where athletes of all abilities can enter.
How does ITU implement anti-doping strategies?
The ITU has accepted the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Code to help keep the sport of triathlon clean; the ITU Anti-Doping Rules are in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
See the anti-doping page for more information and news.
How do athletes qualify for the Olympics?
In the years leading up to the Olympic Games the ITU sets out stringent qualification criteria for National Federations and National Olympic Committees. The nations decide on their athlete qualification parameters, often involving strong performances at specific races, such as a test event or a world series.
How are the World Champions decided?
There are three levels of events included in the ITU World Championship Rankings:
The ITU World Championship Grand Final
The ITU World Championship Series events
The ITU Triathlon World Cup events
Athletes are awarded points if they finish within the cutoff time at these events. To be eligible to be among the top 20 rankings, athletes must score points in at least two of the ITU World Championship Series events.
See the World Championship Series rankings page for further details.