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Scaled-down but still tough ... short-course triathlon.

"I like the thrill and challenge of competing against myself," says Jennifer Johnson of San Jose. "And swimming has made me strong enough to open a peanut butter jar easily." Budding triathlete Steve Boswell of Cupertino, California, notes, "I had a ruptured Achilles' tendon form too much running, so I started biking and swimming to stay in shape. The triathlon offered me variety and a real sense of accomplishment."

Invented by a Navy captain in 1977 to combine Hawaii's toughest swim, bike, and run events, the triathlon has boomed: this year, some 1/2 million people, ages 7 to 78, will participate nationwide--up from 5,000 people in 1980. Most will compete in short courses which you can finish in 2 to 3 hours. You don't have to be Hercules or Atalanta to finish a race, though you may look more heroic after a few months' training.

Why is triathlon racing so popular? You enjoy the variety of three different sports, with less likelihood of sustaining the injuries that often plague one-event endurance athletes, who tend to overuse one set of muscles, tendons, and bones. In most triathlons, you start out swimming (in a pool, lake, or ocean), then head to a transition area where you hop on your bike to speed around a set course. Then you sreech back to the transition area to don running shoes and shorts for a foot race.

How to train: slowly, gradually

Professional triathlete Mark Montgomery says, "Anyone can do a triathlon, but the key is gradual training." You can become a good triathlete by spending 10 hours a week simming, biking, and running. Triathlon books and magazines give training ideas; look for them in running, biking, and sporting goods stores.

Want some friends to train and learn with? Join Masters swimming programs, bicycling and running clubs, or one of these clubs: Bay Area Triathlon Club, Box 5344; Camellia Capital Triathlete Club, 2409 J St., Sacramento 95816, (916) 687-6737; Norcal Triathlon Club, 2309 Rock St., Mountain View, Calif. 94043; (415) 968-4095. For details on new clubs, write or call Triathlon Federation/USA, Box 1963, Davis, Calif. 95617; (916) 757-2831.

On page 66 are some short-course triathlons through Labor Day. We give distances in swim-bike-run order. Asterisks mark the events with shortest distances: the swim is 1 kilometer (.62 mile) or less, the bike 30K (18.6M) or less, and the run 10K (6.2M) or less. But distance isn't the only thing to look at: water and air temperature, elevation, and steepness of the course also contribute to difficulty.

Fees for individuals average $25. Team divisions (each member does one part of the race) average $60 per team.

Be sure to register early; send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your fee. Check to see whether the race is sanctioned by safety-conscious Triathlon Federation/USA.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1985
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