Full Distance Racing: You Have Options

Unless you are just getting started in triathlon, or perhaps you have been living under a rock for the past 35 years and immediately want to get into long distance triathlon, you’re familiar with the “Ironman” distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run. For the past 35 years, triathletes have been pushing themselves to earn the title of “Ironman.” For the majority of that time, the only way to race this distance was to race an official Ironman race; but due to high demand (most events sell out in a very short amount of time) and a demanding time commitment (registration is usually a full year in advance of the event), it is usually difficult to compete in these events.  Fortunately, the high demand to race this distance has caused other companies to offer their own versions of the race. If you’re interested in racing a full distance triathlon but haven’t been able to register for an official Ironman race, here are a few alternatives for you:


2013 marks the 24th year of this full distance triathlon, making this the longest running independent full distance triathlon in the continental US. Advertising themselves as “the peoples’ full distance event” and “athlete friendly,” the Vineman full distance triathlon offers beautiful wine country scenery, cool mornings and warm days, and a relatively small field of 1100 to ensure you don’t feel like part of a “cattle call.”

This race takes place in scenic Sonoma County, CA.

Leadman Tri

The Leadman Triathlon was awarded “Best New Race of 2012” by Triathlete magazine, and the reasoning is clear; beautiful scenery combined with intense long distance racing make the Leadman Triathlon the “evolution in triathlon.” The full Leadman triathlon distance is going to be epic for any endurance athlete: 5k swim, 223k bike course, 22k run make up the full Leadman Tri 250 course. A 125 course, half of a full Leadman triathlon, is also offered.

Instead of a finisher’s medal, which would look kind of silly if you wore it out in public, sub 11-hour finishers receive a belt buckle. Sub 9-hour finishers receive an even bigger one.

Rev3 Triathlon

The guys at Rev3 Triathlon are certainly doing things differently than other races. Rev3 Triathlon offers a Pro Race Series and an Age Group Series, offering triathlons in the olympic, half, and full distances. Points are accumulated from these races, and athletes that acquire sufficient points are invited to participate in the Championship race at the end of the season.

Rev3 Triathlon is about returning to the roots of the sport; having fun with family and friends, being active, and using triathlon as a vehicle to help others.

HITS Triathlon

The HITS series of triathlons offer races for seasoned veterans of the sport as well as beginners. One of the neat things about the HITS triathlons is that they offer 5 different distances on race day, ensuring “A distance for everyone!” These distances range from the “Open’ distance of 100 meter swim/3 mile bike/1 mile run all the way to the “Full” distance of 2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 run.

Interesting fact about HITS: It stands for “Horse shows in the sun.” This company got its start hosting hunter/jumper horse shows, producing shows with 20,000 horses and participants, and awarding millions in prize purses.

As you can see, endurance athletes have plenty of choices for “full” distance racing. Have you had any experience racing a full Ironman AND a full distance triathlon with a different name? How were they different? The same? Let us know!


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