Men's Journal

Triathlon Mixed Relay

Rinse, ride, run. Repeat!


PAST OLYMPIC TRIATHLONS, in which athletes swim, bike, and run their way to glory and/or collapse, were slow-paced affairs that most of us skipped. But the new mixed relay will have us tuning back in. It features teams of two men and two women racing short, fast triathlons composed of a 300-meter swim, a 6.6-kilometer bike ride, and a 1-kilometer run. It’s an all-out cardio blast during which the slightest screw-up (e.g., not being able to pull on a bike shoe quickly after the swim) can mean the difference between gold and zilch.

Here’s how it will work in Tokyo: A female team member starts off with the hectic swim in iconic Tokyo Bay (battling through flying feet and elbows), then jumps on the bike for a twisty dash through streets likely to be wet and windy—the perfect recipe for spectacula­r crashes. Then the kilometer dash, 18 to 20 minutes after she first started, brings her back home to tag a male teammate who tackles the same course, followed by another female teammate, ending with the final man on the team.

The French, British, Australian, and American teams could all win, and Matt Mcelroy, the top USA male triathlete, believes the race will be tight. “It will be decided with a finishing kick,” he says. “The top teams are so evenly matched that the relay will come down to the last 200 meters of the final run.”

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