Triathlon Checklist - Do I Have Everything I Need For Race Day?
In response to the beginner triathlete's broad question (we do get some variation of this question almost daily), "What will I need to compete in my first triathlon?", we recommend taking the simplistic view and breaking down the triathlon into the 3 disciplines of swim, bike and run. Under each discipline, the beginner triathlete will require items to compete, and some items may be optional. Below, we have broken down the race into the disciplines of swim, bike and run as well as a separate section for transition.
Triathlon Transition Gear
- Transition bag - A bag specifically designed to store and organize all of your triathlon gear before and after the race.
- Towel or transition mat - This is optional, but having a towel or transition mat can be invaluable as an aid to prepare your belongings in an organized manner as opposed to having your running shoes, race number belts, water bottles, cycling helmets, etc. lying in the grass which can make it more difficult during the transition from swim to bike and bike to run.
- Extra water bottle or tupperware with water to rinse off sand or dirt off feet when transitioning from swim to bike.
- Bicycle Pump - If you need some extra air in your tires, it will come in handy. If not, you will at least be a good Samaritan and help a fellow triathlete in need.
- Swimming goggles - Make sure to bring your favorite swimming goggles to the race. A triathlete's worst nightmare begins upon realizing that his or her goggles are sitting on the kitchen sink with the defogger. It is no fun swimming the swim portion of your race with no goggles and burning eyes.
- Swimming cap - Triathletes are given a colored race cap by the race directors during packet pick-up. Do not forget your cap!! Some races will not allow you to swim without your colored cap.
- Triathlon wetsuit - For a wetsuit legal race.
- Neoprene skull cap - For cold waters, a neoprene skull cap can make it tolerable to place your head in the water.
- Bodyglide - If using a wetsuit (and even if not using a wetsuit), Bodyglide will be instrumental in preventing chafing.
- Timing chip strap and timing chip - You have trained long and hard for your triathlon. To ensure that your results show up in the newspaper or on-line, do not forget to wear your timing chip. It is a terrible feeling for a triathlete to be well into the swim before realizing that he or she forgot the timing chip and race results will not be official.
- Cycling shoes - Believe it or not, legendary stories do exist of triathletes forgetting their triathlon cycling shoes on the day of the race. Lucky for the elites, they are still talented enough to ride with running shoes. For the everyday triathlete, make your life easier and remember your shoes.
- Bike - No explanation needed. Make sure to affix race number to your bike (usually around seatpost or on top tube). Also, have your bike tuned up in the days leading to the race and ride it after the tune up to make sure everything is functioning properly.
- Cycling helmet- See above. Also, remember to affix the race number given by the race directors during packet pick up to your helmet.
- Water bottles - Don't forget your water bottles along with your sports drink of choice.
- Nutrition - For longer races, make sure to fill your hydration bag (i.e. bento box) with gels or your supplement of choice.
- Sunglasses - These are optional, but if you do use them, vented sunglasses are recommended. Vented sunglasses promote better air flow and minimize the chance of the lenses becoming foggy. Glasses that are not vented do tend to fog up.
- Cycling socks - Optional. Many triathletes go sockless on the bike and on the run, but if you prefer socks, make sure to use a pair that has done well for you in the past.
- Cycling gloves - Optional. Again, many triathletes go without gloves on the day of the race, but if you prefer gloves, bring a pair that you have used before.
- Functioning cyclometer/Cycling computer - Remember to re-set before the race to ensure accurate mileage and time reading during the race.
- Spare tubes, CO2 canisters, CO2 adapters - Hopefully you will not need them, but if you do happen to get a flat tire on race day, at least you will be prepared.
- Race number belt with number
- Running visor or cap - For sun protection on a sunny race day
- Running shoes - If you wear orthotics, make sure that you have orthotics in your race day shoes. It is not a good feeling to transition from bike to run and realize that your reliable orthotics are sitting comfortable in your shoes that you ran in the previous day.
- Running socks - Optional. Many triathletes run sockless.
- Hydration belt - Optional. For longer 1/2 Ironman and Ironman races, a hydration belt is ideal to carry fluids, gels, salt tablets, etc., but in shorter sprint and olympic distance races, most triathletes can manage with nutrition supplied by the aid stations.