A Profile of Injuries in Athletes Seeking Treatment During a Triathlon Race Series
Background Triathlon combines swimming, cycling, and running into a single event. With increasing popularity of this sport, there has been a rise in the number of participants, particularly in shorter distance races. However, the risks of participating in short-distance races have not been reported.
Purpose To describe the rate and profile of injuries seen for medical assistance during a triathlon race series.
Study Design Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods A standardized injury reporting form was used to collect information from race entrants seeking medical aid at each of the races comprising a combination of Sprint, Olympic, and Fun race distances in a triathlon series in Victoria, Australia over the 2006–2007 race season. Injury rates and risk factors were assessed via regression analysis.
Results There were 10 197 individual starters who took part. There were 235 presentations for medical assistance (n = 322 injuries) over the series. The presentation rate was 20.1 per 1000 hours of competition (2.3% of total race starts). Injuries were predominantly sustained during the run (38.4%) and cycle (14.3%) legs. Lower limb injuries (59.5%) and abrasions (28.6%) were the most common site and nature of injury, respectively. There were 9 severe injuries: 5 fractures, 3 probable heat stroke cases, and 1 deep laceration. Elite/Junior Elite, Olympic distance, and 12- to 19-year-old competitors were at higher risk of injury, especially during running and cycling.
Conclusion The level and age of triathlon competitors, and the race distance, influenced the risk of injury over a race series. These results provide timely information for triathlon race event organizers and could be incorporated into a review of practices for the provision of medical services to triathlon events, especially the common sprint distance competitions.
Clinical Relevance Shorter distance triathlons have lower injury rates and relatively minor injuries, but medical teams and race organizers should be prepared for serious injuries.