What happens when an athletic group of friends start to train together? Triathlon has its beginnings in 1974 when a bunch of swimmers, cyclists and runners started organising competitions between their three sports.
Today, triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. While you were out soaking up the sun in a glorious London park or kicking back with a pint in a pub garden this weekend, hundreds of amateur and elite triathletes were testing themselves to the limit at the world's largest Triathlon at ExCel.
Triathlon is a continuous race. Olympic races start with a 1,500m swim, followed by a 40km bike ride and finish with a 10km run. Between sports, a key component of triathlon is the transition – changing from swimwear to bike gear then down to running shorts. The clock keeps running so it's essential to switch efficiently.
Triathlon made its Olympic debut as recently as the Sydney Games in 2000. Amazingly, the world’s leading competitors take less than one hour 50 minutes to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon.
The London 2012 men's and women's triathlons take place in Hyde Park on Saturday 4 and Tuesday 7 August. Although the main events are ticketed, most of the bike courses will be outside the ticketed area and free to watch if you position yourself along Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and Buckingham Palace. You'd better get there early if want to spot the world's best!
However, you can get the full experience a year early with the Olympic test event next weekend. The Dextro Energy Triathlon is the London leg of the International Triathlon Union World Championship Series and an Olympic qualifying event for Team GB. It takes place over the actual Olympic course in Hyde Park and it's totally free to spectate – whether seated in the grandstands or lining the bike course.
Currently in the top 50 men of the ITU's rankings, see Will Clarke, brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, 3 times Team GB triathlete Tim Don, Stuart Hayes and David McNamee push for their 2012 places. In the women's race, watch out for top 50 ranked Brits Helen Jenkins, Jodie Stimpson, Liz Blatchford and Vicky Holland.
And if you've been inspired by this duo of triathlon action in London, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved yourself. Tri London claims to be London's friendliest triathlon club and Ful-on Tri sounds game – club members got their kit off for one of those calendars. Both are Senior Triathlon AccRedited Clubs, and there are many more in town.
Of course, you could just start training with friends – whatever your main sport – and see what happens. Combine rollerskating, Segway racing and jive dancing and you might have a whole new Olympic sport on your hands.
Find out more at British Triathlon.
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