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Tips for choosing your first triathlon

Ironman Coeur d'Alene swim start
Ironman Coeur d'Alene swim start
image by author

There are several factors that a novice triathlete should take into account when trying to decide what triathlon distance would be best for a first attempt.

The biggest determining factor is level of ability.

Some people may have learned how to swim when they were very young and would have no problem tackling a triathlon that includes an open water swim.

However, a triathlon open water swim can be very daunting for someone who is in the process of learning how to swim specifically so they can become a triathlete.

As is often the case most people can run and ride a bike, but many aspiring triathletes must learn how to swim for the very first time if they ever hope to compete in a triathlon of any distance.

At one time there were very few triathlon events to choose from, but today there are several choices available to new triathletes.

An ideal choice for someone new to swimming and triathlon in general is a triathlon called a Try-A-Tri.

This is a perfect race for beginners and normally includes a very short pool swim of perhaps 300-400 meters, a bike course of 15k-20k, and a short run.

Unlike most triathlons of longer distances a Try-A-Tri can feature varying distances depending on who is organizing the race.

Normally Sprint Triathlons, Olympic Distance Triathlons, Ironman 70.3, and full Ironman Triathlons are a standard distance around the world.

Another important consideration is location of the venue.

It's much less complicated to take part in a race that's as close to where you live as possible.

Most major cities offer many different triathlon events every year and it shouldn't be too difficult to find a race that involves a minimum of traveling.

Driving long distances or flying to a race will add to the level of stress and the less stress you have leading up to your first triathlon the more you'll enjoy it.

It should be noted however that many triathlons have to restrict the number of entries, so signing up early is very important as many races sell out quickly.

Expense is also an important factor to consider.

If you have doubts about whether or not triathlon is for you it only makes sense to try a few short distance races before investing in an expensive wetsuit, high end road bike, and other equipment associated with the sport.

A wetsuit is not required(or often not allowed)in a triathlon pool swim and some Try-A-Tri races may even allow you to use a mountain bike.

Once you get into the longer distances it will be necessary to purchase a road bike of some sort as most longer races do not allow mountain bikes.

A wetsuit is also a necessary piece of equipment once you enter a triathlon that features an open water swim course especially if the water temperature is on the colder side.

Perhaps the most important consideration of all is being able to have family and friends cheer you on as you take on the triathlon challenge for the first time.

Choosing a race nearby makes it much easier for friends and family to make it out to the race.

In the early days of triathlon there were very few choices. It was do the Ironman Triathlon or stay home, because in the beginning Ironman Hawaii was the only triathlon in the world.

There were a few obscure shorter triathlons springing up, but very few people even knew they existed.

Back in the day many triathletes did the Hawaii Ironman for their very first race.

There is no hard and fast rule saying you have to start out with a very short triathlon and work your way up to the Ironman.

If you are confident in your ability and feel you have what it takes to take on the challenge of the Ironman Triathlon there is no reason why you shouldn't do it.

Be sure to visit for a look at how to choose your first Ironman Triathlon.

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