A Short History of Triathlon
A check on Wikipedia points to the French for starting a multi-sports event in 1902. I have always believed the French are crazy people for a long time. Known as Les trois sports, it compromises running, cycling and canoeing (not verified if this is true) and there were record of what we now known as triathlon in the 1920s with swimming, cycling and running (though not in this order all the while) as a local sports event. Until the late 1930's, It is still a very "French sports".
|Not a French|
A triathlon race, however, are not limited to just the above distance. There are many variation and a more popular distance is known as the Olympic distance which usually consist of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and a 10km run. Even that, the London Olympic has seen a variation to the distance by having a longer biking route due to existing route arrangement.
But still, why Swim, Bike, and then Run?
I know, i still have not answered the question on why the sports is done in that order. From my years of racing and understanding how the sports is, i can offer two explanation : Safety and Triathletes' Abilities. lets look into each and see if i could make any sense.
Triathlon races typically starts in the morning. For shorter races, It could end as fast as an hour for a Sprint race (typically half of Olympic distance) to as long as 17hours for the Ultra distance Ironman race (totalling 140.2miles or 226kilometers).
|Out of water - SUPER happy.|
The next league is CYCLING (ranges between a few kilometers to hundreds of kilometers), which technically starts to work the lower part of body. This will then be followed by RUNNING (anything from a couple of hundred meters to an ultra marathon of 84km), which again, utilises the lower part of the body. So, how is this relevant to the question of safety?
|Maximum exposure to leg fatigue and merciless sun|
|I was a fat boy in 2010. Now? No more. Fitter. Stronger. Wishing I am racing this, again.|
"OK then, we stick to swim being the "first" discipline. Can we RUN then BIKE?", one may ask.
Again, there is no specific rules about it, but it bring us back to safety. It is often easier to manage runners charging into the end of race than to manage a group of cyclists sprinting at 50km/h towards the finishing and risk crashing. Make sense?
Or how about seeing it from my perspective (and many others)...The photo opportunity at the end of a RUN is definitely better. You have time to soak in the last few hundred meter of the race - reflecting on your journey you have taken so far to be a triathlete; and in more extreme cases, the one year you put in waking up at 4am every morning to train and to finish the race as an Ultra distance triathlete - to be known as an IRONMAN. That, my friend, is only possible if we RUN to the finish line.
2. Triathletes' Abilities
Triathlon is an exciting sports. It is performed by people that aren't good with just one sports, so they need all three to compensate for their overall performances. Each triathlete has a "favourite" league. I can safely say none of them is as important as running. This is where the personal ability of each triathlete comes in. The swim course, short or long, is designed to separate the slow from the faster leaders. Opening up the lead from the start and the ability to get out from a less congested T1 (or transition 1 Swim-Bike) could possibly meant you will save a couple of minutes - and that will come into play much later in the race.
|PD Tri 2012 - Swim Start. Advantage for faster swimmer to create the lead. Also less possibilities of being kick in the face.|
|or alternatively, use it as a catch up session as you pass your friends.|
|Taken from Yahoo!News here|
|Swim - Bike - Run : From bottom looking up! 140.6 miles for the win!|