It'll never fly: The triathlon

For most people, any one of cycling, swimming or running would be exercise enough.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Sticking them together in an agonising test of endurance just seems ridiculous. And triathlon is not without its perils. Take your pick from jogger's nipple, swimmer's ear and cyclist's 'numb nuts'. Add road crashes, shin splints and the hassle of climbing in and out of your Speedos in the drizzle and you have reason enough for the average sane person to give the sport a wide birth. But triathlon, which combines a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run, is actually the UK's fastest-growing sport - 10% year-on-year since its inclusion in the 2000 Olympics. Every office has its triathlete-in-training. Many more will have watched German Jan Frodeno win the dramatic sprint finish in Beijing, and rushed out to blow a small fortune on bikes, trainers and wetsuits. In 2006, the nation's 40,000 triathletes spent £13m on kit. The first modern triathlon took place in San Diego in 1974. Four years later, an argument between swimmers and runners about who was the fittest led to the first Ironman Tri. With its 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42km run, it is an even more ridiculous medley. The theory is that the variety of the three-discipline race beats the relentless monotony of the marathon, and keeps you fitter. Sounds perfect for an overweight society with a short attention span. But most people will wait for the Nintendo Wii version.

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