Difference between Ironman and Triathlon

By: | Updated: May-28, 2019
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If you’re into serious sports and believe that anything is possible, then joining the Ironman triathlon might be the thing for you. Engaging in tri-sports is an expensive hobby. However, it can also be quite addicting according to those highly engaged in it. But how is an Ironman different from a regular triathlon? Continue reading and we’ll enlighten you about their differences.

Summary Table

Ironman Triathlon
A brand name of a triathlon event A generic name which refers to three sports: swimming, biking, and running


Ironman 70.3 event
The Ironman 70.3 event

Ironman is basically a brand name of a triathlon event. It involves a series of long-distance tri-sport events, combining a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run. This pertains to the full Ironman distance. Later on, a Half-Ironman distance was established for beginners wanting to eventually achieve Ironman status.

triathlon event
A triathlon event

A triathlon refers to a multi-sport event involving swimming, biking, and running. Participants engage in the 3 sports in the order mentioned. There are various distances for this kind of race, but as long as it consists of swimming, biking, and running (in that order), it’s considered a triathlon.

Ironman vs Triathlon

The main difference between an Ironman and a triathlon is that “Ironman” is a brand of triathlon while triathlon is a generic term used to refer to a tri-sport event. Other triathlon events cannot use the name “Ironman” since it is registered and owned by the Worth Triathlon Corporation (WTC).

Whether it be an official Ironman event or any triathlon race, one has to put in a big investment in terms of time and money to participate. For those just getting started, there are shorter races to get an initial feel of this adrenaline-pumping competition. These are the sprints (like an 800 meter swim, a 15 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run), Olympic and Half-Ironman distances. Preparing for these events require a lot of effort and sacrifice but it is always very rewarding once you reach that finish line. Triathlon events, most especially the Ironman, have grown in popularity and already have a huge following. This is evidenced by the growing number of participants who join the various races.

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