Triathlon is a multi-sport event in which participants complete a continuous swim, cycle and run with transitions in between to change kit. Disability triathlon describes the growing sector of adults and children with a disability who are taking part in triathlon. The emphasis of disability triathlon is inclusivity and with a growing number of disabled people wanting to take part in triathlon, our clubs welcome new members all year round and we also work with partners, including Scottish Disability Sport, to host come and tri and disability specific events.
At Scottish events, every effort is made to include opportunities for all TRI classes (listed below) to participate, but it may not be possible, if for example the run section is off road or the bike or run section is very steep, making it difficult for wheelchair competitors. Medals may not be awarded in TRI classes and classification is not essential.
The sport is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world and with the inclusion of Paratriathlon at the Rio Olympics in 2016 disability triathlon is really starting to take off.
In paratriathlon, athletes compete in one of 5 classes, as defined by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) as follows:
PT1: Includes all wheelchair users and athletes use a handcycle in the cycling section and a wheelchair for the run section.
PT2-4: For athletes with impairments such as limb deficiency, hypertonia, ataxia and/or athetosis, and impaired muscle power or range of movement. PT2 is for the most impaired athletes and PT4 for the least impaired athletes.
PT5: Athletes with a visual impairment, which is further subpided into B1, B2 and B3 in line with the visual capacity of each athlete. B1 (blind athletes) wear blackout goggles for the run segment of the race and they get a start of 3 minutes and 43 seconds on the male B2 & B3 (visually impaired) athletes and 4 minutes and 16 seconds for the females. A guide of the same gender is obligatory throughout the race and a tandem must be used during the cycle.
Paratriathlon races are contested over the “sprint” distance: 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
Duathlon races are also contested over the “sprint” distance: 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run.
Athletes with a disability who are outside this classification system can still take part in triathlon events but there is no formal paratriathlon pathway.
How to get involved?
To get involved in triathlon, use our Find a Club page to find your nearest club. Then contact the club to enquire about going along or simply turn up to one of their training sessions. Make sure you explain to the coaches your ability levels so they know what you can do so they can make adaptations for you to be able to join in with the club session.
Furthermore, if you fancy getting involved in coaching, officiating or volunteering at your local club, get in touch with your local club contact or check out or coaching, officiating and volunteering pages.
What do I need?
You may be surprised to know that you don’t need lots of fancy, expensive kit to get involved in triathlon. Basic requirements are:
- Swimsuit & goggles (plus a wetsuit if you plan on doing open water swimming)
- A road worthy bike and helmet
- Shorts, t-shirt & trainers
For more information on your first triathlon, check out our FAQs.
However, depending on your disability, you may require additional, specialised equipment, such as a hand cycle or a suitable prosthesis. For advice and guidance with this, contact your local Scottish Disability Sport Regional Manager or Branch.
There are a number of way to take part in an event:
- Triathlon Scotland are delighted to be working with Scottish Disability Sport to deliver a Scottish Para Come & Tri Series. These event are ‘come and try’ event designed for athletes with a disability to try the sport of triathlon in a fun, supported and relaxed environment. The courses are all contained within the grounds of their venue with plenty of space for athlete support and spectators. Each participant will receive a medal on completion of each race as a memento.
- You can also take part in many of the events listed on our event calendar. It is advisable to contact each race organiser to discuss any additional needs you may have, e.g. a chair poolside to allow you to put your prosthesis on before heading off to transition and your bike. Where possible, race organisers will accommodate you, however please be aware that not all courses are suitable for some disabilities, e.g. a run course that is not suitable for a wheelchair user due to the surfaces/terrain.
- Finally there are some events other events across the UK which are designed around the needs of paratriathletes, information on these can be found on the British Triathlon website (link below).
- Triathlon Information Leaflet
- Scottish Disability Sport
- British Triathlon
- Special Olympics Scotland
- Special Olympics