A First-Timer’s Guide To Watching An ITU Race

  • By Aaron Hersh
  • Published Apr 18, 2013
  • Updated May 15, 2015 at 1:29 PM UTC
Photo: Larry Rosa/

Five steps to following the world’s fastest triathletes this weekend in San Diego.

The two athletes who fought for the Olympic gold medal just eight months ago are going head-to-head again at the Omegawave ITU World Triathlon San Diego on Saturday. Although their breed—the ITU athlete—gets less attention and respect than their long course brethren here in the US, make no mistake—the ITU WTS series makes up the most competitive triathlons in the world. You have only one chance this year to watch them do battle on this side of the Atlantic. Whether you’re an Ironman die-hard or a sprint-distance first timer, this simple five-step guide will help you follow these incredible races.

Why does the ITU matter?

The athletes racing the ITU WTS circuit form the most talented group of triathletes in the world, without exception, and they are the only triathletes who can compete for Olympic medals. Leanda Cave, Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack, Mirinda Carfrae, Andy Potts, Andreas Raelert and many more Ironman studs all cut their teeth racing in the ITU. Many of them graduated from short-course without ever cracking into the upper echelon. Of that ultra-elite group of long-distance triathletes, only McCormack and Cave had the horsepower to win the world title. Crowie and Carfrae never came close. While the best Ironman athletes are arguably just as impressive as the best draft-legal short-course stars, the ITU boasts a deeper pool of premier athletes.

The ITU circuit is the feeder system for longer distances. Many of the best Ironman athletes five years from now are racing this weekend at ITU WTS San Diego—we just don’t know which athletes will make the jump.

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FILED UNDER: News / Race Coverage TAGS:

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor of Triathlete magazine. To submit a question, write Aaron at

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