While most triathletes consider winter as a time to rest, many are gearing up for winter triathlon races that involve running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing rather than the usual swim-bike-run triathlon event.
Winter triathlon is, in fact, a sport authorized by the International Triathlon Union. It began in the year 1980, but did not get the expected traction until the 1990s’. Since then, it has been all the rage among daring triathletes who face the adverse climatic conditions to perform and excel in winter triathlon sports. So, if you’re ready to branch out and try your hand at this event, we recommend reading through this quick and practical guide:
A Quick Guide for the Winter Triathlon Beginner
- Understanding the difference between the standard and winter triathlon
- Tips for training for your first winter triathlon event
- Best 4 winter triathlon races in the USA that you must try:
- TRI FLAKE WINTER TRIATHLON
- MOOSE ON THE LOOSE WINTER TRIATHLON
- FOREST FRENZY WINTER TRIATHLON
- USA WINTER TRIATHLON NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Quick Guide for the Winter Triathlon Beginner
Understanding the Difference Between the Standard and Winter Triathlon
To understand the difference and prepare yourself well in advance, here are the few things you must know:
- Standard triathlon events include swimming-cycling-running, whereas the winter triathlons include cross-country skiing-cycling-running. Here, both freestyle and classic skiing are allowed for winter triathletes.
- Winter triathletes use mountain bikes with wider tires for ski trails, unlike standard triathletes that use road bikes. Also, the running happens on snowy trails with packed down snow.
The winter triathlon course distance is variable. However, there are 4 common winter triathlon distances which you may consider based on your preparedness level and interest:
- Short – It has a run of 1-3.9 miles, bicycle route of 5-18.6 miles and cross-country skiing of 1.9-3.1 miles.
- Intermediate – The run is of 4-8 miles, bicycle route of 18.7-31 miles and cross-country ski for 4.7-7.8 miles.
- Long – Includes 8-18.6 miles of running, 31.1-62 miles of biking and 12.4-18.6 miles of cross-country skiing.
- Ultra – Run for 18.7+ miles, biking for 62.1+ miles, and cross-country skiing for 18.7+ miles.
Tips to Train for Your First Winter Triathlon
There are a lot of things that are common in terms of preparation for the triathlon event. However, few things are exclusive for winter triathlon.
Here are a few care-tips that you must consider:
- The right gear – The swimming is swapped with cross-country skiing which means adjustments are required for the triathlon gear and equipment, too. You need to ensure your triathlon gear works in snowy, slippery winter conditions. Investing in racing spikes, mountain bikes with wide tires of 2-2.4” width, and correct type of cross country skis.
- The right mix of indoor and outdoor training – To avoid endangering yourself in harsh winter temperatures, we recommend mixing your training session. You can go for a treadmill run and a stationary bike with high resistance to substitute for outside workouts and to up your biking game too. The skiing machine installed at some gym centers can help in meeting your skiing training needs.
- Layer it up – When you train outside, make sure you are wearing layers of clothing. That way, when your body heats up with exercise, you can remove one to adjust the temperature. Also, the layer traps the heat near your body and keeps you protected.
- Stay hydrated – Dehydration is a major health hazard in winter triathlon. So, make sure you carry water in an insulated bottle and keep drinking at fixed intervals, irrespective of the thirst level you feel.
- Strap on reflective gear and lights – To help improve your visibility in the cold, slippery, and low-light outdoor training session, it makes sense to wear strap-on reflective gear with lights.
Winter triathlon races can be fun, provided you stay safe during the practice session and also during the event to keep the winter blues away.
4 Best Winter Triathlon Races That You Must Try
If you’re excited to try out an upcoming winter triathlon; here are 4 best recommendations:
Tri Flake Winter Triathlon
Date: January 18, 2020
Location: Kincaid Park
The Tri Flake Winter triathlon is Alaska’s most popular and the only sanctioned triathlon event by USA Triathlon. It includes an 8k run on the scenic Coastal Trail starting from the Kincaid Chalet. It is followed by biking in the multi-use trails along with Raspberry and the STA single track trails in Kincaid for a course of 8 miles. The ski has a freestyle format and is laid out in the Nordic ski trails in Kincaid Park. The trails comprise 2 laps of a 3k loop and an additional 0.6k finish loop for the extra load of fun. The registration is open for the 2020 Tri-Flake Winter Triathlon. Remember, the event accepts snow bikes with minimum 3.5-inch wide tires, so make sure you have one.
Moose on The Loose Winter Triathlon
Date: February 1, 2020
Location: Island Park, ID
Regarded as the premier friendly winter triathlon of New England, the 4th Annual Moose on the Loose winter triathlon offers Snowshoe, Fat Bike, Run and cross-country ski in the splendid landscape of Harriman State Park, located in Island Park, Idaho. Racers in the event will snowshoe for 1.5 miles, fat bikers will pedal for 6 miles, and skiers will glide 6 miles of trail. Starting this year, you can choose to participate in two racing events like bike/run or bike/ski and so on and register yourself for Duathlon as well. You can also participate in the relay team of two to three people, or you can go for individual participation.
Forest Frenzy Winter Triathlon
February 15, 2019
Boulder Junction, WI
Boulder Junction will host the 3rd Annual Forest Frenzy Winter Triathlon, which is regarded as the first of its kind in the state of Wisconsin. Headquartered at Camp Manito-wish YMCA, this fun endurance event will include a 7.5K cross-country ski for both classic and skate skiers, a 5K for snowshoers and a 7.5K fat tire bike for individuals & 3-person relay teams.
USA Winter Triathlon National Championships
March 1, 2020
The USA Winter Triathlon National Championship is a one of a kind winter endurance racing experience that offers you an opportunity to qualify for the World Winter Triathlon Championship. Before you take on this challenge, we strongly recommend using the right triathlon gear and fat bikes. This will help you in the racecourse that features North ski trails in Theodore Wirth Park of 7K on the snowmaking trails, 5K on the run on the snowmaking trails and approximately three laps on the snowmaking trails, totaling to 15K for biking. The order of events will be ski-bike-run.
The registration for 2020 events for all of the mentioned triathlon events is now open. You may check the detailed information, including the registration process, requirements, eligibility, and important dates on their respective sites.