America’s New Favorite Race
They’re all the rage.
Are triathlons the new marathons? The three-legged ultimate test of fitness has reached new levels of popularity in the U.S., according to recent data from USA Triathlon and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).
Roughly 2 million people completed at least one triathlon in 2011—a 58 percent increase from 2008, the SFIA finds. Even more: The number of USA Triathlon events—races, camps, and clinics—nearly tripled between 2004 and 2012.
Why the uptick? About 25 or 30 years ago, triathlons began with just the Ironman (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon to cap it off). But now, tris come in all shapes and sizes, including the sprint for the weekend warrior (a half-mile swim, 12-mile ride, and 3.1-mile run). And that’s opened the door to a wider variety of current and former athletes looking to attain a higher fitness level, says Chuck Menke, the marketing and communications director of USA Triathlon.