Almost all North American triathlons begin with the swim. Sprints are no exception, and for sprint triathlons the swim is typically half a mile or a little longer. There are sprint triathlons with open-water swims, those in the ocean or lakes, and sprint triathlons where the swim is held in pools and laps are counted.
After the athletes exit the water, they go into Transition One, or T1, where they quickly change into biking clothes and shoes and begin a 12-mile bike ride. Much like a time trial bicycle race, sprints do not allow drafting, in which one cyclist rides in the wind-protected pocket behind another rider.
The athletes begin Transition Two, or T2, after the bike leg. Here the athletes quickly slip on running shoes and begin a three-mile run. Considered the harder of the two transitions, many athletes talk of "lead legs" at the start of the run.
Transitions and Speed
While transitions are technically not a leg or stage in themselves, quick transitions can greatly increase race times and results. In sprint triathlons, many athletes use specialized pedal clips to hold running shoes onto the pedals, preventing the need to change shoes more than once.
Aerobic versus Anaerobic Output
While sprint triathlons are appealing due to their short distances, these competitions can be difficult as athletes tend to push outside aerobic output to the more difficult anaerobic output to achieve faster results and better overall race times.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.