Multisport Basics

Q. What is a triathlon?
A. A triathlon consists of three disciplines: swim, bike and run, usually in that order.

Q. What is a duathlon?
A. A duathlon consists of two disciplines: run and bike, usually in the order of run, bike, run.

Q. What are the typical triathlon distances?
A. Most triathlons are what is referred to as Sprint distance (a.k.a. Short distance). Sprint is not an exact distance, but is usually about a ¼ mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile run. For duathlons, a 1 mile run is typically substituted for the swim. Each discipline can vary up to 50% and most sprint distance races will vary from those exact distances depending on the particular race venue. We host about 20 Sprint distance triathlons & duathlons all over Florida each year, generally between March and December.

Most triathletes are happy racing Sprint triathlons and having grudge matches with their local friends.  It is a great way to stay in shape and local races have a great social environment.  Some athletes, however, crave longer distances.  How long you can go is only limited by the amount of time you have to train. 

The most common longer distance beyond the Sprint Triathlon is the International Distance Triathlon (a.k.a Intermediate distance).  USAT defines Intermediate distance as a race with 2 of the 3 segments of the race within the following parameters:  swim (.7-1.2 miles), bike (18.7-31 miles), run (4-8 miles).  Click here to see USAT’s full distance definitions.  Please note that an Olympic Distance Triathlon, which is an exact distance as specified below, is also an International Distance Triathlon as it falls within that distance range, but the inverse is not always true. 

We host International Distance Triathlons with most of our Sprint Distance races so we have a little something for everyone.  Some are Olympic Distance and some are not.  If a race is an Olympic Distance, we will call it that, otherwise we’ll use the term International.

Many longer triathlon distances are well defined. These distances are:

Full Iron (a.k.a. Ironman): 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. The term Ultra distance also encompasses the Full Iron distance but also includes races that are not the exact Full Iron distance. The closest Full Iron distance triathlon to South Florida is the Great Floridian held each year in Clermont, FL (central Florida) in October.

Half Iron (a.k.a. ½ Ironman, 70.3): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. Integrity Multisport hosts 1 Half Iron Distance Triathlon each year on the 2nd Sunday in November called the Miami Man Triathlon. This is the longest and largest triathlon in all of South Florida and draws participants from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. Many triathletes choose this race to cap off their season. It also includes an International distance triathlon for those that aren’t quite ready to tackle the ½ iron. The term Long Course also encompasses the Half Iron distance but also includes races that are not the exact Half Iron distance.

Olympic: 1500 meter (.93 mile) swim, 40k (24.8 mile) bike, 10k (6.2 miles) run. We host 1 Olympic distance triathlon each year, the 305 Triathlon, in May. The term International distance and Intermediate distance also encompasses the Olympic distance but also includes races that are not the exact Olympic distance. Also note that the term Ironman Triathlon is trademarked by the World Triathlon Corporation, therefore you will not see many other race promoters using the term Ironman. However, most triathletes will use the term when referring to Full Iron and Half Iron distance events.

Q. Do you really think I can finish a triathlon?
A. Yes, I do (though the wizards in the legal department would like me to tell you to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen). If you’ve reached this site, the chances are pretty good that you have the motivation that could get you to the finish of a triathlon. You’re interested in racing, endurance and fitness. As long as you pick a triathlon that’s suited realistically to your abilities, you can finish. Even if your goal is a longer distance, you should always start out at a local sprint distance triathlon to practice and learn the ropes. All of our events have a clinic the day before the race that covers all you need to know and allows you to ask as many questions as you like. Even if you’ve completed a few races, the clinic is highly recommended.

Q. What triathlon distance is right for me?
A. Always start by doing a sprint distance race regardless of the distance of your goal race.

Q. Do I need to have a strong background in one of the events?
A. Not necessarily. While you will encounter athletes who swam in high school meets or ran cross-country, many new triathletes are approaching these events for the first time.

Q. How much time will I need to train for a triathlon?
A. The amount of time necessary to train for a triathlon is dependent on your goals. The important question to ask is “do I just want to finish or do I want to be competitive?” Previous experience and training in the 3 disciplines will also make a difference. It is important to train your weakness, in an attempt to be proficient at swim, bike, run, and transitions. A sprint distance triathlon can be successfully completed in as few as 4 hours per week over a 6-week training period. Training for a Full Iron Distance event, one should allow at least six months and 20 hours per week. For those preparing to race at an elite level for a Full Iron Distance race, training is a full time job. It is important to set your priorities in life and decide what place triathlon will occupy.

The Beginner Triathlete website is a great resource for new triathletes.  Click here for more information on their triathlon training plans.

Q. What is the essential equipment?
A. Bike, Helmet, Running Shoes, Goggles, Swim Cap (race should provide one), Race #’s

For men, that usually means a pair of tri-shorts (with a thin pad in the crotch that dries faster than the pad in traditional bike shorts) and, if you choose to wear a shirt (you don’t have to) something that doesn’t bind and is as form-fitting as possible. Remember, the more time you spend changing clothes in transition, the longer your race will last.

For women – Many women put on a pair of running shorts over their swimsuit before they get on the bike. Some women put on running shorts and a tank top or t-shirt over their swimsuit. Many women who race in a one-piece swimsuit will wear a sports bra underneath their swimsuit. Some women wear a sports bra and tri shorts.

Some people dress for speed, others dress according to their level of modesty. Again, as long as you’re comfortable, you’ll have a better race. If you’d like to dress for speed, less is better. Many men and women complete the entire race in only a swimsuit. Some swimsuits have a tiny bit of padding built in to the bottoms (these are called tri-suits). For a sprint-distance race, however, you may not need any padding. Just make sure your saddle is a comfortable one! Bear in mind that if you are racing in a longer event (Half or Full Iron); changing from tri shorts to bike shorts (with more padding) is common, as is changing tops between the bike and the run. If you’re competing in a race with an open water swim and you are wearing a wetsuit, whether you wear your top under your wetsuit is a matter of personal choice. Remember that nudity is not allowed in transition. Long races will typically have gender specific locations (i.e. bathrooms) if you have to expose yourself during transition. Some people also get away with tying a towel around themselves.

Swim Gear Checklist: Swimsuit, Goggles, Anti-Fog for goggles, Swim Cap (race will supply one and you have to wear that one as they are color coded)
During cooler weather: Wetsuit (78 degrees or less water temp), Cooking oil spray (for wetsuit lubrication)

Bike Gear Checklist: Bike Bike shoes Socks Bike shorts Helmet Sunglasses Tire pump C02 cartridge/delivery system Spare tire Drink/water bottles Gloves Sunscreen Gel flask/Gel packets

Running Gear Checklist: Running shoes Speed laces Socks Hat Sunglasses Sunscreen Race number belt Gel flask/Gel packets

Additional Items: Sandals/Shoes Sunscreen After-race clothing Camera!

Q. What is a race number belt?
A. It is required that triathletes wear their race number on the front of their body (sometimes called a bib) during the run portion of a triathlon. Some athletes put on shorts and/or a t-shirt over their swimsuits after the swim and simply pin their bibs to their shorts or shirts before the race. For those athletes who race in their swimsuits (or tri suits), there is nothing to pin their bib to. They use a race belt, or tri-belt, which is a very simple stretchy band with two plastic prongs that hold a race number. As these athletes leave the transition zone for T2, they clip the belt (with the bib already attached) around their waist, and off they go! Your race number should always be on the front of your body.

Q. What should I eat or drink for triathlons?
A. Nutrition for triathlons will depend on the distance of your race, as well as your fitness, as that will affect how long you are racing.

For a Sprint distance race, some people only drink water during the event running only on what they ate for breakfast. Others take Nutrition Gel during one of their transitions.

For Olympic distance races Sports drink and nutrition gel are both provided at the run water stations and contain enough nutrition to get most people through this distance. Do not attempt this distance on water alone! You should have training sessions that last for the same time or longer than this race where you will practice your nutrition to ensure that it works for you. Hiring a coach is suggested for optimal performance at this and longer distances.

For Half-Iron or Full Iron events you will need a more substantial supply of calories. Aid stations are located on the bike courses as well as the run courses for events of this distance and have food such as oranges, bananas, cookies, etc. in addition to sports drink and nutrition gel. You should have a nutrition plan for long distances such as this. Hiring a coach is highly recommended! Nutrition choices for any length of event should be something that is palatable and that you look forward to. Caloric needs will vary based on your body weight and level of exertion. Average need is 200 – 500 calories per hour. Electrolyte Replacement is another important subject. Being aware of race conditions and consuming plenty of water or sports drink is also vital. The best advice is to experiment in training and find what works best for you.

Q. How do I register for a triathlon race?
A. For events in South Florida, go to to register online. Some events fill-up quick, so register early.

Q. Where do I get training guidelines?
A. There are some free training programs that can be found on the web using a Google search. There are also several triathlon books that you can review at your local book store. Hiring a coach is recommended for optimal performance.

Q. Where can I find a map of the race course?
A. Swim/Bike/Run course maps have links on each races corresponding web page.

Q. What is in a race packet?
A. The packet will include races numbers (1 for your bike, 1 to wear while running, and usually 1 to put on your bike helmet), colored swim cap (which designates your swim wave), race t-shirt (usually good for after the race, not during), race information, and other gifts. If possible, it is always better to get your race packet the day before the race to avoid the morning rush, especially if you have questions about the race. Always try to get all of your question answered prior to race day to reduce your anxiety.

Q. What do I eat the night before the race?
A. This is highly individualized choice and there are many articles you can find about this subject. As a general guideline, eat a high carb dinner about 14 hours before race time and drink fluids. Eat foods that you have eaten during training – this is not the time to try a new meal.

Q. What if I can’t sleep in anticipation of the race?
A. Rest is important, but don’t panic if you only get a few hours of sleep. Since the sprint distance triathlon is a shorter race, you will have plenty of energy to get through it. A cup of coffee won’t hurt your results either.

Q. Who will be in the triathlon?
A. There will be a mix of elite triathletes, intermediate triathletes and those doing their first triathlon. You will see $10,000 triathlon bikes and $200 road, hybrid, and mountain bikes, along with a wide range of other equipment. Don’t worry about the other athletes and equipment; focus on completing your event. Every triathlete at the race had their first race at some time, so they will generally be happy to answer any questions. Our events draw a lot of first timers so you are not alone!

Q. When should I plan to arrive at the race site?
A. To avoid the rush for important stops such as the bathrooms and any additional stress, it is beneficial to arrive 1.5 hours before race start. This should give you enough time to get body markings, set-up your transition area and complete warm-ups. Also, be aware that sometimes the event parking area is not directly next to the race start area – there may be a .25 to .50 mile walk or ride (this is when keeping your race gear in some type of backpack is helpful.) Remember that you must always wear your helmet when riding your bike at the race site, even before and after the race! You could get disqualified before the race even starts for not wearing your helmet. It is a very important rule for the safety of everyone.

Q. What if something goes wrong in that Special Triathlon I’ve spent so much time preparing for?
A. For some, understandably, a triathlon is a culmination of much dedication, preparation, training time, and family support. It’s a project, it’s a big deal, and you want it all to be worth it. But sometimes things go wrong out there, in the same way that it might rain on a long-planned outdoor wedding. The swim might not go as well as you expect. You might get a flat tire on the bike. You might experience unexpected cramping on the run. Triathlon is about the expected as well as the unexpected. The successful triathlete – you – earns that internal and external respect by taking whatever the day, the course and the competition hands you. You are also less likely to be disappointed if you compete in several events and don’t plan your entire year around a single event.

Q. What is our refund/transfer policy?

A. You can transfer between the different races at the event at any time easily by just logging into your account and making the change. You will have to pay any difference between the races if the new race is more expensive, but, sorry, no refunds are given for downgrading.

Registrations are NON-REFUNDABLE and NON-TRANSFERRABLE.  We have partnered with RegShield to offer you very inexpensive registration insurance.  This protects you from the following unforeseen circumstances:

Accident & Illness
Travel Interruptions
Family Emergencies
Military or Jury Duty
Work Travel Conflict

Each participant will be given the option to sign up for race insurance during the registration process.

For information on how to transfer go to:

Q. If I am unable to make the race, can I give my entry to a friend?
A. No. If someone else races under your name and is injured, or causes an accident, that person will not be covered by any protection typically afforded to an athlete through the USA Triathlon sanction and insurance. Plus, if the athlete racing in your name causes injury or damage, you may be liable in part for those damages. If caught, both athletes will be banned from racing in any other USAT event.

Q. What is the difference between Age Group, Clydesdale, Fat Tire, and Athena Divisions?
A. These titles are racing divisions. As an athlete you may select ONE division to compete in. Age Group is for regular age group competition (grouped in 5 year increments), Clydesdale and Athena are weight based divisions where you must weigh at least 225 for Clydesdale (men) and 165 for Athena (women). Fat Tire is for those that don’t have skinny tire road bikes and are at a disadvantage because of it, so we added a category. You must have tires at least 1.5” wide and flat handlebars with no aero bars for your bike to qualify you for this division.

Q. If I meet the Clydesdale or Athena weight categories, do I have to race in those divisions?
A. No. You can select to race as an age group athlete, or as a Clydesdale\Athena athlete.

Q. What are body markings?
A. You will need to have your race number on your left shoulder to help identify you by race officials, photographers, and medical staff. This can be done with provided temporary race number tattoos or written with a marker. For the most part, these numbers will wash off with the first shower or use baby oil to remove them quickly.

Q. Can you swim with the run number?
A. Yes, some people pin it to their shorts and tuck it inside their shorts during the swim. We recommend using a race belt instead.

Q. How do pin the run number while you are on the bike?
A. You don’t. You should have it pre-pinned to an article of clothing that you are already wearing, or that you intend on putting on after you rack your bike in transition. We recommend using a race belt instead.

Q. What will you get at registration?
A. You will get 3 race numbers (run, bike, and helmet), and a t-shirt.

Q. My spouse is coming to see me, will he/she be able to see the swim? What about see me during the race and finish? What is the best place for him/her to be to see me?
A. Yes, look at the online course maps and go to the venue the day before the race if you’d like to plan out the best spots for viewing. You can also just follow the crowd on race day. There are always plenty of great spots to view the race. Your spouse should also consider volunteering to get an up close and personal experience with the race while earning you future race credits. Email [email protected] if you want to volunteer for the race.

Q. What are the cutoff times?
A. Most of our sprint distance events do not have cutoff times, however the International, Olympic and ½ Iron events do, so please refer to their respective websites for more information. Generally you want to be able to maintain at least 16 mph on the bike and run under 16 minutes per mile in order to stay ahead of any cutoff times. If you cannot maintain that speed or pace then register for the shorter distance as nearly all of our events offer multiple distances and cutoff times are based on the longer distance.

Q. When will my photos be posted?
A. Generally race photos are posted within 48 hours of the event. All racers will receive an email notifying them that pictures are uploaded, so be sure to add [email protected] to your allowed senders list. You can also check the event website for a link to photos and your race results will also have a camera icon that links to your individual pictures. If pictures are important to you please make sure you always wear your race number on the front of your body and that your bike number is clearly visible.