Story: Triathlon and multisport

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders take part each year in multisport events – from kids’ triathlons encouraging youngsters to give it a go, to gruelling multi-day events that cover hundreds of kilometres and challenging terrain. New Zealanders have also done well in international multisport competitions.

Story by David Green
Main image: Cameron Brown winning Ironman New Zealand, 2007

Story Summary

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Multisport events combine a number of disciplines, nearly always including running and cycling.

Triathlon

The most popular events are triathlons, which combine swimming, cycling and running, usually in that order. Duathlons involve running and cycling.

The first modern triathlon was in San Diego, US, in 1974. A triathlon in Auckland in 1979 may have been New Zealand’s first, and the New Zealand Triathlon Association was set up in 1985. In 2009, 96,000 people took part in duathlons and triathlons in New Zealand.

New Zealand's first women-only triathlon was the Marlborough Women’s Triathlon, first held in 1985. In the 2000s there were many triathlons for women only. The Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon is for children from the age of seven. In 2013 nearly 20,000 children took part.

International competition

New Zealanders have been successful in international triathlon events.

  • Rick Wells came third at the first official world championship in 1989, and second in 1991.
  • Erin Baker won more than 100 triathlons from 1984. In 1985 she was the first woman to finish an ironman triathlon in under 10 hours.
  • Hamish Carter was the world’s top-ranked male triathlete for five years in the 2000s. He won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
  • Andrea Hewitt was under-23 world champion in 2005.

Ironman

Ironman events involve a 3.8-kilometre swim, a 180-kilometre cycle and a 42.2-kilometre run. Ironman New Zealand, held at Taupō, is a qualifying event for the world championships in Hawaii. In 2013, 1,430 people took part. Cameron Brown won Ironman New Zealand 12 times. In the world championship he came second twice and third twice. Erin Baker won the world championship twice and took second place three times.

Other events

Many longer multisport events are also held, often in scenic areas.

  • The Coast to Coast race, run from the west to the east coast of the South Island in one day, has been held since 1983.
  • The New Zealand round of the XTERRA World Series, an off-road triathlon, is held in Rotorua each year.
  • The Dual crosses Motutapu and Rangitoto islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
  • The Xerox Challenge was held in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. Athletes went from Cape Rēinga to Bluff (2,500 kilometres) in 22 days.
How to cite this page:

David Green, 'Triathlon and multisport', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/triathlon-and-multisport (accessed 15 August 2018)

Story by David Green, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 24 Mar 2015