First Olympic Appearance: 2000
by Gerry Brown and Mark Zurlo
Triathlon, the sport of ironmen and ironwomen, made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games. While not as demanding as Hawaii's annual Ironman Triathlon, the Olympic edition is still a great exhibition of strength, speed, and stamina.
The competitors will race in a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride, and 10km run. For the London Games, the swim portion will take place in Serpentine Lake, located within Hyde Park. The cyclists will follow a circular route, making 7 laps of 6.137km each, traversing Hyde Park, Green Park (home of Buckingham Palace), and St. James Park. The run consists of 4 laps around Serpentine Lake of 2.5km each. The race is held with a continuously running clock and therefore the changeovers or transitions between the swimming and biking and between the biking and running will be crucial to a triathlete's success. The first person to complete the full course is the winner.
The swimming event starts the race. Competitors begin in a large mass, diving off a pontoon into the water. They swim a triangular course marked with buoys and ropes and can use any swimming stroke they prefer. Once they get out of the water, the racers don their helmets, grab their bikes, and start pedaling. Once off the bikes, the final stretch begins. The triathletes finish with the 10km run and must complete the course on their feet, meaning no crawling across the finish line.
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