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How the International Triathlon Union Works

ITU Events
Triathletes compete in the cycling portion of the 2010 Lausanne ITU Elite Sprint Triathlon World Championships.
Triathletes compete in the cycling portion of the 2010 Lausanne ITU Elite Sprint Triathlon World Championships.
Janos Schmidt/

The ITU sponsors, organizes and runs several world championship events each year. The events offer prize purses that together equal more than $3 million. Here are some of the competitions:

ITU World Championship Series. This new series offers an opportunity for the world's top athletes to compete on an ongoing basis while attracting more than 13,000 athletes and 1 million spectators. The annual seven-event series features competitions around the world. Events in 2010 were held in Sydney, Seoul, Madrid, Hamburg, London and Kitzbuhel, concluding with the grand final in Budapest.

Dextro Energy, a leader in the dextrose market, is the sponsor for the series, known as the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. Each individual final offers a $150,000 prize purse, and the Grand Final offers a $250,000 purse. Top performers earn points toward their world rankings.

The ITU World Cup Series. Started in 1991, the World Cup Series draws some of the sport's top athletes to compete in Olympic-distance events. Top performers earn points toward a world ranking.

ITU Elite Sprint World Championships. Held for the first time in 2010, this championship features a continuous swim-cycle-run competition that spans half the Olympic distance, including a 750-meter (.46-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) bicycle and 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.

ITU Team Triathlon World Championships. Each country may enter two teams of four athletes (two men and two women). Teams compete in the order of female-male-female-male. Each athlete completes a 275-meter (300-yard) swim, 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) bike ride and 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) run, then tags the next athlete in the relay. The first team triathlon was held in 2009 in Des Moines, Iowa; the 2010 event took place in Lausanne, Switzerland.

ITU Hy-Vee Triathlon Elite Cup. This event attracts top performers from around the world with a purse of $1 million. Held in Des Moines, Iowa, the triathlon is sponsored by Hy-Vee in an effort to promote good health and nutrition.

Long Distance Triathlon World Championships. Held since 1994, this championship includes a swim-bike-run that covers double or triple the standard distances. Stamina and endurance are required, as races for elite triathletes can last around seven hours. Events for the duathlon, aquathlon, winter triathlon and paratriathlon world championships also take place annually.

Olympic Games. Held every four years, the Olympic Games are the much-anticipated, premiere triathlon event. Triathlon made its first Olympic appearance in the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Are you ready for the world of competitive triathlons? For links to more information, click to the next page.