Let’s be honest, the sport of duathlon hasn't garnered the same level of attention and exposure as triathlons. There really aren’t any big name athletes or celebrities to provide exposure of the sport. Actress America Ferrera, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and actor Sean Astin are just a few of the many notable celebrity triathletes. Additionally, triathlons have the Olympics and the multiple IRONMAN competitions world-wide. Tell me when was the last time you watched a duathlon event on TV? How many celebrity duathletes can you name?
The reality is that triathlons are more widely known and this is what attracts more casual athletes, novices and fans to the sport. However, duathlons can be good way to introduce those same casual athletes to the multisport community in general. Take the swim out of the equation and you get a lot of people who'd love to do a triathlon but can't swim. This is where a duathlon can open the door of opportunity for these individuals.
Let’s start with a few basics. The first thing you need to know is that a duathlon is a run-bike-run format which replaces the starting swim with a run and that duathlons vary in length and combinations very similar to triathlons. Duathlons also are often held simultaneously with triathlon events so they share the same courses for the run and the bike as well as utilize the same transition area. Duathlons are also raced over distances similar to triathlons. While it can vary from race to race, duathlons can range from 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run to a 3.1 mile run, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.
Another reason duathlons are a good starting point for those interested in joining the multisport community is cost. Triathlons are expensive. The registration prices and the amount of stuff you need reflect that fact. On the other hand, duathlons are less expensive because there is not as much stuff to buy and registration fees are generally cheaper. Those considering a duathlon also should avoid getting caught up with thinking that they need everything that everyone else has in order to compete. For example, you don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money on a bike. You can use the bike that you already have or find an inexpensive or used bike. The best advice is to keep it as minimal as possible until you know for sure that you want to participate long-term. Just keep it simple and get the basics: a bike, a helmet, a pair of running shoes and a water bottle.
Bottom line, the run-bike-run format of a duathlon is great if you want the challenge of a triathlon, but can’t swim. Furthermore, this is the perfect opportunity to attract people to the multisport community who otherwise would not consider participating because of being nervous about swimming.