Winter Triathlon 101

<strong>Competitors climb a hill during a 2004 Winter Triathlon World Cup race in Wildhaus, Switzerland.</strong><br>AP Photo/Keystone, Regina Kuehne
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In the past few years it seems more and more triathletes are looking to keep up their fitness by training and racing another sport after the triathlon season is complete.

That sport might be running focused (5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon), cycling focused (bike tours, centuries, time trials) or multisport (cyclocross, duathlon, aquathlon) focused. Athletes in colder climates are showing more interest in winter triathlon.

So just what is winter triathlon?

The chart below gives distances for the various winter tri options, which are typically run, bike and ski.

Cross Country Run

Mountain Bike

Cross Country Ski

Minimum age required

Team Relay

2 to 3 km

4 to 5 km

3 to 4 km


Sprint Distance

3 to 4 km

5 to 6 km

5 to 6 km


Standard Distance

7 to 9 km

12 to 14 km

10 to 12 km


Though the rules for winter triathlon can be found on the ITU Download and Resources Page within the Competition Manual download, the 2008 rules are posted below. (Note that some spelling changes have been made to standardize the text with other documents found on this site.)

The rules are posted here because a lot of information can be gained by just reading the rules of the sport. Additionally, I spoke to a couple of winter triathletes that were not familiar with the rule set for one reason or another, so this may help other winter triathletes get a handle on their fast-growing sport.

Winter Triathlon Rules

Q.1 Definition

Winter Triathlon consists of running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. The two first segments will be on snow as much as possible depending on the natural conditions.

Q.2 Official Training and Familiarization

a) Official training and familiarization sessions will be conducted by the Technical Delegate and the LOC (Local Organizing Committee). Athletes and coaches may attend these official training and familiarization session.

b) Conduct on race days: It is not accepted that any athletes warm up or do reconnaissance of the course while a race is going on.

Q.3 Running Conduct

a) Running shoes are mandatory on the running segment. This rule is not applicable for age groupers.

b) Running shoes with spikes are allowed.

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