Kelly Myers has run a lot of half marathons, and a few marathons. She tried a duathlon, thinking it would be a little kinder on her body.

“Then you go and see the real athletes are doing the swimming leg, so now I feel like that would be kind of fun,” said Myers, 52, of Brunswick.

She’s now planning her sixth, seventh and eighth triathlons for this summer, with hopes to complete a half-Ironman when she’s 55. And she still considers herself a newbie, one of thousands of Americans drawn to the sport each year.

The sport of triathlon exploded in 2010, jumping from 1.5 million competitors in 2009 to 2.3 million the following year. USA Triathlon attributes the popularity to the sport’s increased exposure, including in the Olympics. Social media and an increased number of races — especially shorter distances — have also helped.

“People want a challenge. They also want something they know whey can attain,” said Brian D’Amico, of USA Triathlon. “If you want to ride on a mountain bike and walk the run, that’s fine.”

Triathlons are any length of swim, bike, run

Triathlons consist of a swim, bike and run, with transitions in between. You’ve probably heard of an Ironman — a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run. But there are other lengths, including an Ironman 70.3 and, most common in Ohio, Olympic, sprint and mini distances.

  • Olympic: .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run
  • Sprint: Varies, but commonly 1/2-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike, 3.1-mile run
  • Super-sprint: Varies. 200-yard swim, 6-mile bike and 1-mile run, for example.

Many races offer relay divisions and kids races, plus duathlons, which are run-bike-run. A few races include aquathons (swim-run) and aquabikes (self-explanatory).

See below for eight Ohio triathlons with swim courses in Lake Erie.

Anyone can enter the 2018 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships sprint triathlon, a world-class event expected to draw 4,500 athletes and spectators to Edgewater Park Aug. 11-12. Edgewater will also host the event next year.

Anyone can try a tri

“It’s not just these Ironman athletes,” said Michael Mulhall, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission vice president of business development. “There are definitely regular Joes doing it. Once you understand that, it can become a bucket list item.”

The sport especially appeals to classic overachievers, Mulhall said. “Those hardworking grinders who are always looking for that next challenge.”

Mulhall and the sports commission is working with Cleveland recreation centers to introduce the sport to Cleveland kids and help them train to compete in the race. The organization is also looking for more than 800 volunteers to help stage the race.

“I’m so excited,” said Jeff Uzl, of the Cleveland Triathlon Club. “It’s a great opportunity not only to highlight Cleveland but to highlight the sport of triathlon locally.”

Tri Club helps newcomers

About 400 Northeast Ohioans belong to the tri club, which hosts workouts, open-water swims and social events. Members welcome newcomers, will help them train and give tips on what to wear and how to rack your bike in the transition area.

While the sport can be intimidating, the community is incredibly supportive, Myers said. And the sport gives you a chance to cross-train different muscles and think about different strategies.

“If you have a bad swim, you have a chance at a really good bike,” she said. “Each section of the race is an opportunity.”

Triathlons have grown, big time.

By the numbers:

  • USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events a year. About 60 events are in the Great Lakes.
  • Women make up about 38 percent of USA Triathlon members.
  • The largest age group is 40 to 49, with 30 percent of membership.
  • Texas has the most members, followed by California and Florida
  • The Mid-Atlantic Region is the largest, with 16 percent of members.

Find Ohio Lake Erie triathlons and related races here:

Sheffield Lake Triathlon/Duathlon

Huntington Triathlon/Duathlon

Lakeside Triathlon

Lighthouse Triathlon

Cleveland Triathlon

2018 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Vermilion Harbor Triathlon and Duathlon

Perry’s Victory Triathlon and Family Races