You’ve heard of a triathlon, but what about a quadrathlon?

If a triathlon isn’t enough for those of you out there who are sport junkies, then what about a quadrathlon? As well as the three disciplines of the tri, this activity adds in kayaking to the mix to truly kick things up a gear.



The quadrathlon comprises of swimming, kayaking, cycling and running, and has been running for almost 30 years with the first event being held in Ibiza in 1987.

The first ever race consisted of a 5k swim, 20k kayak, 100k bike and a 21.1k run – seriously tough! However, due to a large amount of interest the World Quadrathlon Federation (WQF) was set up three years later in 1990.

The sport has remained fairly quiet over the years, but after the World Cup Series kicked off in 2001, there has been a big increase in interest, particularly in the UK over the last three years. In addition to the WQF events, the British Quadrathlon Association (BQA) run a British National Trophy Series.

This is made up of five races of varying distances and a mixture of the four disciplines, although they all start with the swim and end with the run. This series includes the British Championship and two other national or even European Championships.

Some of the events are perfect for beginners getting into the sport, whilst others are a real test of endurance. The main events are held in Box End, Brigg, Bude, Doncaster and Shrewsbury, although there are more challenging races in slightly different formats held in Scotland and Wales.

Depending on the event, the disciplines will vary in length. We have taken a look at their usual set up below:


The swim section always goes first, as we previously mentioned, and is always open water. The distances in the UK vary from 500m through to standard Olympic distance (1.5k). Some swims are river based, but Quad racing also caters for those who enjoy sea or lake swims. Depending where the event is taking place and the water temperature, wetsuits are advised or even compulsory.


The kayak section usually follows the swim, with distances ranging from 4.2k to 10k. These take place on a variety of water sources from shallow lakes, to rivers or canals. Those taking part can either buy a kayak or hire one.

As long as the kayak is fully functioning and any novices taking part are wearing a buoyancy aid, pretty much anything goes! This section is either an out and back segment or laps, with the kayaks lined up on shore and paddles at the ready. Once the swim has finished and the competitors have shed their wetsuits, they run and pick up the kayak (and buoyancy aids if necessary) before launching into the water and getting the segment underway.

Once the kayaking has finished, there are usually helpers who grab the kayaks from those competing once they are back on land, before they make a dash for the bike.


Most bike sections take place on roads and vary in distance between 23k and 36k. There are a few events where the bike section is off-road. Where this happens, mountain or cyclo-cross bikes are used. British Triathlon rules apply, meaning helmets are compulsory and no cycling in transition is allowed.


The run section follows the British Triathlon format with distances varying from 5k to 10k. Some races feature gruelling off-road coastal runs, which are perfect after the three other disciplines!

If you are interested in quadathlons for yourself, check out the BQA’s website where you can find a schedule of their upcoming events. You can find it here.

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