Explaining the Triathlon Mixed Relay

by USA Triathlon

You ready for the fast and fun Mixed Relay?!

For U.S. viewers, the Mixed Relay makes its Olympic debut Friday evening, joining the mixed 4x400m relay in track and the mixed medley relay in swimming as new Olympic mixed-gender events.

The race is Friday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m. ET and will air live on USA Network (more tv coverage details below). 

The fast, tactical and spectator-friendly race showcases thrilling draft-legal racing that often comes down to a final sprint to the finish line. The mixed relay competition is unlike a triathlon relay at a local, age group race where three athletes combine to finish the race (one person swims, another bikes, another runs). Instead, in the mixed relay format, each athlete completes an entire super-sprint triathlon before tagging off to the next athlete.

Each country’s team is made up of two men and two women, with the order as: female/male/female/male. At the Olympics, each athlete will complete a super sprint triathlon of a 300m swim, 6.8K bike, and 2K run — which takes around 20 minutes total — before tagging the next athlete. Strategy and short-course speed are key to these events.  

This relatively new discipline began in 2009 when the first World Championships were held in Des Moines, Iowa. A year later the mixed relay made its debut at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and in 2017, it was announced that the mixed relay would make its Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020. 

Last year, the U.S. earned silver at the Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, continuing a streak of strong performances in the event. The U.S. won the 2016 world title, earned the 2017 world silver medal and 2018 world bronze. The U.S. team also took bronze in 2019 at the Tokyo World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series event, which was held on the Tokyo Olympic course at Odaiba Marine Park. Each of the world championship medals, as well as the Tokyo test event, were achieved with a different combination of U.S. athletes. France — winners of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 world titles — comes to Tokyo as the medal favorite.

Expect a fun, fast and furious race!

The Mixed Relay will all air live on USA Network, and will also be live streamed on and the NBC Sports App.

Here is the direct link to the livestream on for the Mixed Relay:

Before and after the Mixed Relay, tune in to the USA Triathlon Facebook page for pre- and post-race commentary from our panel of triathlon experts.

2016 Olympian Joe Maloy and 2004 Olympian Barb Lindquist will begin Mixed Relay pre-race commentary at 5:45 p.m. ET on Friday, July 30 and post-race commentary at 8:30 p.m. ET. 

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