Why is Triathlon So Popular for People Over-50?


By Rashelle Brown (nextavenue.org)

If someone asked you to name some lifetime sports, you'd probably list golf, tennis, hiking, nordic skiing or pickleball. What probably wouldn't jump to mind, is the grueling swim-bike-run of triathlon. That's why we were surprised to learn that a high percentage of triathletes — as many as half of participants in some races — are over 50....

The standard triathlon, referred to as an Olympic triathlon, is a .93 mile swim, a 24.8 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run. A Sprint triathlon features a half-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run, or a 5K. There are Ironman versions with longer distances.

To find out why this sport is so popular among active middle aged and older adults, we talked to a race director, two longtime triathletes and a triathlete-and-coach-turned-podcaster. After reading their inspirational tales, you might agree that after 50 is the perfect time to tri. 

The Wide Appeal of Triathlon

In 2016, the latest year in which USA Triathlon published its member survey, nearly one-third of responding members in the elite level organization were over 50. In fact, the age group with the highest membership was athletes aged 45 to 49, a jump of two age groups since the prior survey in 2009.

At the regional level, triathlon appeals to many recreational athletes over 50 as well, according to Judi Fluger, founder and director of Midwest Multisport Races, LLC, based out of White Bear Lake, Minn.  READ MORE