Sprint triathlons vary in distance according to the course constraints or preferences of the race promoters.
Most commonly, an official triathlon sprint consists in a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run. The time that takes for a person to finish a triathlon varies depending age, gender, course and level of athleticism.
The swim takes part in either a swimming pool or an open body of water, such as the sea or a lake. For many, swimming is the hardest part to endure during a triathlon sprint. It’s common to find that athletes who used to swim professionally or at school excel at this part of the competition. In the 2013 USA Triathlon National Age Group National Championship, around 100 athletes who placed in the middle of the competition took between 14 and 16 minutes to cover the average distance.
The cycling environment varies often, with most races taking place in roads with open traffic. For experienced male athletes, a 20 kilometer bike ride can 30 minutes or less. On the other hand, female athletes take 33 to 35 minutes.
The time that takes to complete the run is highly dependent on the race’s course. For instance, the wind and the inclination of the route can slow down the running peace. And, as this is the final step of the overall triathlon sprint, exhaustion and dehydration can influence the final result. On average, it takes 22 to 26 minutes complete the run.
The fourth and often forgotten step of a sprint triathlon is transition: the time it takes to switch disciplines and change into and adequate sports gear. Getting the gear ready and planning a system in advance can influence the transition time, making it 30 seconds long, 1 minute or even more than 3 minutes.
When transition time is added to the three disciplines, an elite athlete takes 1 hour to complete a triathlon sprint. An average participant — placing in the middle of the competition — takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish.