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What is a Quadrathlon?

By J.M. Densing
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A quadrathlon is a sporting competition that consists of four separate events; the athlete completing all of them in the shortest time wins. It is an extension of the well known triathlon, with one additional event. Variations are possible, but the four sports generally are swimming, kayaking, cycling, and running in that order. A quadrathlon is a test of endurance and all around physical fitness that requires intensive training. There are several organizations that sponsor and promote this competition which is growing in popularity.

The typical quadrathlon includes the sports of swimming, kayaking, cycling, and running, completed in order. The contestant usually starts out by swimming 2 miles (3.2 km) and then kayaking for 12.4 miles (20 km). The land portion of the competition consists of cycling 100 miles (161 km) and then running 26.2 miles (42 km). These sports are thought to provide a good balance between those that utilize upper body strength and events that focus on the lower body, thereby creating a complete test of physical fitness.

This configuration of sports for the quadrathlon is the most common, but variations are possible. The distance traveled in each event can also be altered to create a shorter competition. Different sports can be included to accommodate seasonal weather conditions; for instance, cross country skiing could replace swimming or running in the winter. Quadrathlons can also be composed of track-and-field events such as shot put, standing long jump, 30 meter sprints, and triple jumps.

There are a variety of stated rules that athletes must follow while competing in a quadrathlon mainly to ensure fairness and safety. These include rules such as no outside assistance, no flippers or snorkels while swimming, and no riding too close to other cyclists.

The training for the competition is usually intense. For example, daily workouts practicing the event sports coupled with additional strength and endurance building can be part of the regimen. Athletes need to be highly conditioned and fit in order to successfully complete a quadrathlon.

Of the several organizations that promote and sponsor these competitions, the most far reaching appears to be the World Quadrathlon Federation. This organization sponsors international competitions and has members all over the world. There are also several smaller organizations such as the British Quadrathlon Association that organizes events at the local and national level. As these competitions continue to grow in popularity, there has even been mention of possible inclusion in the Olympics.

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