Triathlon Distances & Average Timings Analysis (Infographic); Pick Your Right Fight !


Want to know the average finish time for your age group for each triathlon distance? You have come to the right place.

We have analyzed the results of some 216 triathlons and thousands of triathletes and consolidated all the information in one place for your ease. In so doing, we have analyzed the data and pulled out some very interesting facts and considerations for each distance.

Here is the list of triathlon typical distances and overall average times in a nutshell,

  • Super Sprint – 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run. Average finish time 1:02:36
  • Sprint – 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. Average finish time 1:35:13
  • Olympic Distance – 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run. Average finish time 3:09:38
  • Half Ironman – 1900m swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run. Average finish time 6:04:49
  • Full Ironman – 3900m swim, 180.2km bike, 42.2km run. Average finish time 13:01:13
Triathlon Swim Average Time - All Distances
Triathlon Swim Average Time – All Distances
Triathlon Bike Average Time - All Distances
Triathlon Bike Average Time – All Distances
Triathlon Run Average Time - All Distances
Triathlon Run Average Time – All Distances
Triathlon Average Finsih Time - All Distances
Triathlon Average Finsih Time – All Distances
Triathlon Average Finsih Time - All Diciplines Break Down
Triathlon Average Finish Time – All Disciplines Break Down
Traithlon Distance Distribution- All Distances (KM)
Triathlon Distance Distribution- All Distances (KM)
Good Beginner Triathlon Finish TIme
Good Beginner Triathlon Finish TIme

What Are The Key Highlights That Came From This Analysis?

While collecting this data there were some very interesting observations that can help us as triathletes become better at whichever distance we choose:

Just before you get into the list below, check out the list we made of Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budget Gear to make sure you make the most out of your money and avoid pitfalls

  • Perfect Triathlon Distance for Beginners : For those just starting out in the sport, the Super Sprint and the Sprint distances are the perfect choice for you. The shorter distances mean that it is absolutely possible to dust off an old bicycle from your garage and complete the course with little to no financial investment. Sprints and Super Sprints are a great way to get a taster of the sport and see if it is for you, and they require very little training for the averagely fit person.
  • The Swim leg Is longer in shorter distance : It has been observed that the duration spent in the swim leg is twice as much in distances like super-sprint, Sprint and Olympic as a portion of the whole event  in term of duration/Average time when compared with to ironman and half ironman distance.
  • Young Triathlete perform Better in Short distance: the shortest triathlon distance (Super-sprint) is well suited to the younger age groups, with a significant difference in average times between the youngest and older age groups
  • 30-34 Age group are the best performers in Ironman Distance : In general, the shorter distances such as Sprint and Super Sprints favour the youngest age groups, whereas the full Ironman favours the 30-34 group.
  • Training hours increase with longer Distances: As you move up through the distances you will find an increase in the use, and need for, specialised equipment such as tribikes, trisuites and a whole slew of accessories. With the increase in distances also comes a massive increase in training time to prepare your body for these races. Although it is quite possible to jump straight into an Olympic distance triathlon as your first distance, it would be a good idea to build some experience before tackling the longer events such as the Half Ironman or the Full Ironman.  
  • The youngest age groups tended to have the fastest swimmers across all distances.
  • Super Sprint triathlons have the biggest percentage differences between fastest and slowest times. Swim leg differences were from 5 to 25 minutes, bike 17 to 60 minutes, and run differences were from 10 to 28 minutes.
  • Individual transition times can vary wildly from around 1 minute to 9 minutes. Include transitions as part of your training so that you can be as smooth as possible. Also take very good note of know where your bike is so you do not waste time looking for it.
  • If you have a weak leg in the shorter distances then it has a larger effect – especially a bad swim – as there is no time to make up the lost ground.
  • The increase in distances from Sprint to Olympic distance is double for all legs, but the increase from Olympic distance to Half Ironman for the swim leg is small; only 400m. This is something to consider when training because you may want to focus more on the bike and the run.
  • Although a full Ironman is double the distance of a Half Ironman, the expected times are more than double. This is due to the fatigue and slower pace on bike and run, so manage your expectations when moving up to the full distance race.
  • Triathlon Races has Cutoff times. For more on this, check out What Are Triathlon Races Cutoff Time? What’s a Good Finish Time!

What Are The Durations And Distances For Each Leg Of A Triathlon As A Percentage Of The Entire Event?

Across all events, the percentage split by distance for each leg remains the same. The swim is 3%, the bike is 78% and the run is 19% of the total distance. However, when we look at the percentage of time spent on each leg, an interesting pattern emerges:  

Triathlon TypeSwimBikeRun
Super Sprint20%50%30%
Sprint20%48%32%
Olympic17%47%36%
Half Ironman – 70.311%52%37%
Ironman10%51%39%
Triathlon Discipline Distribution as a % of total average finish time

On the shorter events, the length of time in the water for the swim leg is double that of the Ironman distance. In contrast, for the Ironman distance, the length of time spent running as a percentage of the total time is around 30% longer.

From this, we can conclude that strong swimmers would be well suited to the Super Sprints and Sprint triathlons whereas strong runners are rewarded more as the events increase in overall distance.

What Are The Average Times And Distances For Each Leg Of A Triathlon?

Let us break down further the average times and distances for each leg of a triathlon so that you can see where you sit in the swim, the bike, and the run.

Triathlon TypeSwim Distance Bike Distance Run Distance Overall
Super Sprint00:10:42400m00:26:4010km00:15:402.5km01:02:36
Sprint00:18:15750m00:43:2720km00:28:405km01:35:13
Olympic Distance00:30:381500m01:26:2840km01:06:2110km03:09:38
Half Ironman00:39:451900m03:02:4190km02:08:4121.1km06:04:49
Ironman01:16:003900m06:32:47180.2km04:57:4042.2km13:01:13
Triathlon Total Finish Average Time & Typical Distances

An interesting point to note about the distances is that, on the whole, each leg is approximately doubled in length as you move up through the events. However, the anomaly here is the swim when moving from Olympic Distance to the Half Ironman which has an increase of only 400m, or 26%.

It is important to note the marginal increase in swim distance when looking at the composition of your training as you move from Olympic Distance to Half Ironman, as the bike and run distances are approximately 50% longer.

 What Are The Average Times By Age Group Of A Super Sprint Triathlon?

Take a look at the data below for each age group so that you can see where you sit for each leg compared to others of a similar age (fastest times by age group are highlighted in green for each leg and for the overall time):

Super Sprint Triathlon Average Time by Age Group
AverageOverall20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960+
Overall01:02:3900:46:3900:54:5600:56:3501:04:0001:02:2201:07:1601:15:3101:15:3801:22:16
Swim00:10:4200:08:0600:09:3200:10:0100:10:5200:10:2000:11:0500:13:4100:13:0700:12:47
T100:05:5600:04:0300:05:5000:05:0300:06:3200:06:1100:06:0000:07:1300:06:3600:06:57
Bike00:26:4100:21:0600:24:0100:24:2900:27:5200:26:2700:29:0200:30:5200:30:0900:33:22
T200:03:4300:02:4100:03:0800:03:0800:03:5600:03:3000:03:5800:04:4700:04:5000:05:28
Run00:15:4100:10:4500:12:2700:13:5600:15:0300:15:5600:17:1200:18:5900:20:5800:24:31
Super Sprint Triathlon Average Time by Age Group

Data taken from the London 2021 Super Sprint Triathlon. Sample size 211 athletes.

Quite clearly, the shortest distance triathlon is well suited to the younger age groups, with a significant difference in average times from the 20-24 group to the 25-29 group.

We can also notice that the transition is taking a good chunk of the super-sprint race, especially when compared with other distances below. There are many factors that impact transition time but it is mainly dependant on experience and how much practice they had (Source).

What Are The Average Times By Age Group Of A Sprint Triathlon?

Take a look at the data below for each age group so that you can see where you sit for each leg compared to others of a similar age (fastest times by age group are highlighted in green for each leg and for the overall time):

Sprint Triathlon Average Time by Age Group
AverageOverall16-1920-2930-3940-4950-5960+
Overall01:35:1301:23:1301:37:1201:37:4201:33:0001:37:3001:39:31
Swim00:18:1500:13:4400:18:1200:20:0800:17:0300:18:2000:17:54
T100:03:0300:01:5300:03:0000:03:0800:03:1200:03:1100:03:38
Bike00:43:2700:41:0300:45:2200:43:5900:42:2200:43:5700:43:51
T200:01:5400:01:1800:01:5100:01:5800:01:5400:02:0500:02:14
Run00:28:4000:25:0800:28:3900:29:0200:28:2200:29:5100:31:48
Sprint Triathlon Average Time by Age Group

Data taken from the 2018 Abu Dhabi Sprint Triathlon. Sample size 440 athletes. 

 Once again it is the youngest group of athletes who excel at the Sprint distance by quite some margin. In particular, the swim leg is where the 16-19 age group really showed their speed against the other age groupers. 

What Are The Average Times By Age Group Of An Olympic Distance Triathlon?

Take a look at the data below for each age group so that you can see where you sit for each leg compared to others of a similar age (fastest times by age group are highlighted in green for each leg and for the overall time):

Olympic Triathlon Average Time by Age Group
AverageOverall18-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960+
Overall03:09:3803:03:5203:03:1103:07:1803:08:3103:10:2403:09:4103:17:2803:17:3603:17:01
Swim00:30:3800:29:3800:30:1200:30:4600:30:2400:30:2200:30:4800:31:4300:31:0300:30:12
T100:03:0500:02:4300:02:4500:03:0700:03:0600:03:0600:03:0300:03:2200:03:1400:02:59
Bike01:26:2801:26:3401:26:1801:26:3401:25:5801:26:2001:25:4001:28:2701:27:1501:28:43
T200:02:5900:02:1900:02:2900:02:5500:02:5800:03:0500:02:5900:03:2100:03:2100:03:11
Run01:06:2101:02:3101:01:2001:03:4901:05:5701:07:2301:07:0401:10:2801:12:3501:11:50
Olympic Triathlon Average Time by Age Group

Data taken from the 2018 Abu Dhabi Olympic Distance Triathlon. Sample size 458 athletes. 

 Now that we have reached the standard distance triathlon, we can see that the youngest group no longer dominates. There is a spread of fastest legs across 3 age groups, with the 45-49 group taking the accolade for fastest average bike leg.

What Are The Average Times By Age Group Of A Half Ironman Triathlon?

Take a look at the data below for each age group so that you can see where you sit for each leg compared to others of a similar age (fastest times by age group are highlighted in green for each leg and for the overall time):

Half Ironman (70.3) Triathlon Average Time by Age Group
AverageOverall18-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960+
Overall06:04:4905:53:1505:56:1505:56:2605:59:1106:01:5806:08:1506:13:3106:22:5306:40:51
Swim00:39:4500:36:4800:38:0700:38:5800:39:3500:40:0400:40:2500:40:3700:41:2600:42:43
Bike03:02:4103:00:2203:01:3603:00:3703:00:2703:01:2003:02:4103:04:4803:08:1603:15:25
Run02:08:4102:03:4402:03:0802:03:5002:05:5502:07:3302:10:3602:13:2602:18:4602:27:21
Half Ironman (70.3) Triathlon Average Time by Age Group

Data taken from www.obstri.com .Sample size 188 races. 

At Half Ironman distance, it is the younger age groups that lead the way in all 3 legs. However, the bike times for 30-34 and 35-39 were only very marginally slower and it was the comparatively fast swim times that gave the younger competitors the edge.

What Are The Average Times By Age Group Of An Ironman Triathlon?

Take a look at the data below for each age group so that you can see where you sit for each leg compared to others of a similar age (fastest times by age group are highlighted in green for each leg and for the overall time):

Ironman (140.6) Triathlon Average Time by Age Group
AverageOverall18-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960+
Overall13:01:1312:38:0012:19:0012:18:0012:35:0012:50:0013:03:0013:23:0013:40:0014:25:00
Swim01:16:0001:09:0001:11:0001:13:0001:14:0001:16:0001:18:0001:19:0001:21:0001:23:00
Bike06:32:4706:21:0006:18:0006:15:0006:21:0006:28:0006:33:0006:42:0006:50:0007:07:00
Run04:57:4004:55:0004:47:0004:37:0004:44:0004:51:0004:56:0005:04:0005:10:0005:35:00
Ironman (140.6) Triathlon Average Time by Age Group

Data taken from Raymond Britt and www.TriRun.com ..Sample size 25 races.

 

Full Ironman distance races are no longer dominated by the youngest age groups. While they still hold onto the prestige of being the fastest swimmers, it is the 30-34 age group who are significantly faster on the bike and the run.

What Is A Good Time For A Beginner Triathlete?

As a beginner triathlete, you will want to compare yourself against others, if nothing else it can give you a target to aim for. Based on the data collected, we have identified the time needed to have a time in the top 60% of triathletes. As a beginner, this would be a fair target to aim for.

Triathlon TypeFinish Time
Super Sprint01:03:04
Sprint01:37:38
Olympic Distance03:14:13
Half Ironman06:28:26
Ironman13:56:52
Good Triathlon Beginner Finishing Time

These times are just guidelines and they will vary from course to course. However, they should give a rough guideline of what to aim for as a good beginner triathlete.

What Are The Distances For Junior Triathlons?

There are triathlons specifically for juniors and the distances of these increase as they get older. The distances can vary from country to country and below is an overview of these for the common age groups:

British junior triathlon distances
8 years old – 100 m swim / 1.5 km bike / 600 m Run.
9-10 years old – 200 m swim / 4 km bike / 1.2 km Run.
11-12 years old – 300 m swim / 6 km Bike / 1.8 km Run.
13-14 years old – 350 m swim / 8 km Bike / 2.4 km Run.

America junior triathlon distances
11-12 years old – 200m Swim / 5-7 km bike / 2 km run.
12-15 years old – 500m Swim / 10 km bike / 3 km run.
15-18 years old – 750m Swim / 20 km bike / 5 km run.

Australian junior triathlon distances
12-13 years old – 300m Swim / 10 km bike / 2 km run.
14-15 years old – 400m Swim / 15 km bike / 4 km run.
16-19 years old – 1500m Swim / 40 km bike / 10 km run.

Most Common Time Penalties And Violations

An important point to note is that triathlons do have a rigid set of rules that competitors should be aware of. Failure to adhere to these rules could mean anything from a warning to a time penalty, or even disqualification. Here are the most common rules and associated penalties for triathlon events.

  • Running Shirtless
  • Throwing Garbage Outise Trash Drop Zone
  • Not wearing the Bib
  • Using Headphones
  • Using electronic devices Such as phones or Cameras
  • Ignoring Traffic Laws
  • Improper Bike raking
  • Dismounting After the Mount line
  • Stopping at the transition flow zone
  • Public Nudity & Urination
  • Use of snorkels
  • Use of any flotation equipment
  • Not wearing the Helmet or not putting on the chinstrap
  • Helmets – As a safety precaution, helmets must be worn whenever you are on the bike. This includes during the transition area. Failure to adhere to this rule could see you disqualified from the event.
  • Bike Drafting – For non-draft legal events, you need to stay more than 3 bike lengths from the person in front. If you wish to overtake then you have 15 seconds to do so. If someone overtakes you, you cannot then draft them; you must increase your gap to them to 3 bike lengths before you can try and take the place back. Penalties can range on this, but you will normally get a warning first and persistent drafting will get you a stop-and-go time penalty.
  • Abandonment – This relates to making sure that what you take onto the course leaves the course with you. You should throw all rubbish into the areas provided. Nobody wants a pile of gel wrappers and banana skins to clear up after an event. Violation of this can also result in a stop-and-go time penalty.
  • No headphones – Athletes must be able to pay full attention to their surroundings. As such, headphones are not allowed. For those who enjoy training with music, this is a consideration that you may want to take note of.
  • Outside AssistanceAll events must be completed under your own steam. This means changing flat tires is your task alone. It goes further though; if you forget your cap for running then you cannot accept it from a friend or family member on the next lap. If anyone offers you something to help in your race, even if it is well-intentioned, then do not accept it. Penalties can vary on this but you can expect a time penalty of some sort.
  • Wetsuits in non Wetsuit Race There are rules on whether you can wear a wetsuit because they do not just provide warmth; they provide buoyancy too. For this reason, races in water that is not considered as cold water will not allow wetsuits. Always check your local event for rulings on this

Ironman state that ‘Failure to comply with any of the Competition Rules may result in an athlete being punished with a 30 Second Time Penalty (for the IRONMAN® 70.3®-branded Races), a 60 Second Time Penalty (for the IRONMAN®-branded Races), a 5:00 Minute Time Penalty, disqualification from the Event, suspension from multiple Events, or expulsion for life from all Events’

International Triathlon Union (ITU) also applies time penalties. Depending on the violation severity. The penalty could vary from 10 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the distance and the violation type.

Time penalties vary depending on the type of infringement and are presented as follows in ITU race competition rules :

(i) Drafting infringements:

  • 5 minutes in long distance events;
  • 5 minutes in middle distance events;
  • 2 minutes in standard distance events;
  • 1 minute in sprint and shorter events.

(ii) Other infringements:

  • 1 minute in long distance events;
  • 30 seconds in middle distance events;
  • 15 seconds in standard distance events;
  • 10 seconds in sprint distance and shorter events.

For severe penalties, both, Ironman and ITU are clear about the possibility of disqualifying the participant.

Serious infractions such as dangerous or unsportsmanlike behavior could see you suspended from future events, so remember to respect your fellow competitors. 

How Long Should You Train For A Triathlon?

This is very dependent on which distance you want to compete in, as well as your current levels of fitness.

  • Super Sprint and Sprint Most reasonable fit people will be able to complete a sprint or a super sprint triathlon with little to no training. However, a 6 to 8-week training plan will ensure you perform to your best.
  • Olympic Distance These triathlons require longer to prepare for. You should be looking at a 12-week training plan to get into peak shape, assuming you have a base level of fitness already.
  • Half Ironman These events would require around anywhere from 3 to 6 months. This is largely dependant on how much endurance work you have been doing in the lead up to the start of your training. If you are a regular cyclist, for example, who often rides 50 to 80 km then you will find yourself in an advantageous position compared to a complete beginner.
  • Ironman The full distance Ironman is a serious commitment. Mark Kleanthous states that the training for an Ironman actually takes 3 years if you are starting as an absolute beginner. This is because your body need time to adapt to the endurance stress that you are putting it through. If you have been building up through the previous events, however, then a training plan of 6 to 12 months is a reasonable time to get prepared.

What Is A Relay Triathlon?

There are also triathlons that you can take part in as part of a team. In a relay triathlon, one person does the swim leg, then another does the bike leg and a final team member does the run. You can also do this as a 2-member team where the swim and run are done by the same person. This is a great way of taking a somewhat individual sport and adding in the camaraderie of a team. 

Most distances offer a team, or relay, version including Super Sprint, Sprint, Olympic Distance, and Half Ironman. However, Ironman does not offer a full distance team event as of writing.

What Is A Triathlon Mixed Team Relay?

A slightly different approach to the relay-style event is the triathlon mixed team relay which was introduced in 2009. Here, each member completes a sprint distance triathlon of a 300m swim, 6.8km bike and a 2km run and then tags the next member of the team. The order of this event is always female, male, female, male.

Final Thoughts

Triathlons can become part of your life. Starting out at a sprint event may well put you on a journey all the way to the full Ironman distance event.

The times given in this article can be used as a guide, but remember that the best way to compare yourself is against your own previous times. If you are improving with each training session then you are on the right path.

If you are wondering what the hardest part of a triathlon is then read our article on this to find out.

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