A runner heads out on the run, looking to finish his first triathlon on a sunny day in Southern BC.

Race Day 101


The is a guide for anyone doing their first triathlon and looking for advice on race day equipment and set up. This is not an exhaustive guide but will hopefully help you to prepare for your first triathlon race experience.

Prepare the day before your event by getting everything you need for your race packed and ready to go.  Here is a list of suggested equipment and clothing you might want to consider:

  • swim suit or race suit
  • wet suit (if it’s an open water swim)
  • towel
  • swim cap
  • swim goggles (consider and extra pair in case of a malfunction)
  • bike (with a spare tube, tire levers and pump/CO2 if longer than a sprint race)
    bike helmet
  • bike shoes
  • tri top or other top if you don’t wear a race suit
  • running shoes
  • sunscreen
  • baby powder (for your shoes)
  • lubricant (for shoes and friction spots in your wetsuit)
  • sunglasses
  • water bottle(s)
  • nutrition (if necessary)
  • a hat
  • a number belt
  • your race number(s)

Make sure that your equipment is in good working order well before the race.  If you don’t know much about bikes, get yours checked out at a bike shop or take advantage of the bike check provided by the race organizers. Ensure that your helmet is in good condition and meets the standards required by the rules.

Check out the course before the race.  Knowing the course will result in less stress on race day.  Find out what time transition opens on race morning and consider arriving at least an hour before your race start to allow you time to set up your transition area, get signed in/body marked, warm up, and look after any other personal requirements.

Scope out the transition zone so that you know where the entrances and exits are, and plan your route to and from your transition spot.  Know where the mount and dismount lines are on the bike course.  If it is a lap course make sure you memorize how many laps you are doing in each discipline.

Set up your transition in a way that makes sense to you considering what you will need and in what order.

For most races you will need to get body marked before entering the swim.  Take your race number with you to ensure that you are marked with the right number.

Test out your goggles before the start of the swim to make sure they are sealing properly and don’t leak.  You don’t want to discover a leak during the race.

Don’t do anything on race day that you haven’t practiced first.  If you have never used a particular energy supplement in training, don’t try it on race morning.  If you haven’t practiced putting your shoes on your bike, or running without socks, don’t do it for your race.  Make sure you allow yourself enough time to use the (sometimes crowded) bathroom facilities before your race starts.

Lastly, relax and enjoy the experience.  Chances are you won’t win your first race, so stressing about performance is wasted energy.  If you enjoy your first triathlon chances are you will have many more opportunities to improve your performance in subsequent races.



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