Triathlon Set-Up Routine


It is that time of year with the first triathlons not far off, so I thought I would offer a bit of advice on packing equipment and transitions.  I will not talk about training. 

Here are a few hints for a smooth experience on race day when it comes to equipment set up and transitions.

Packing should be done the day before, in as stress free situation as possible (not in a hurry).


1.       you picked up your kit the day before,

2.       you have no special race nutrition needs

3.       you know the course profile etc.

Make 5 piles

1.       Pre-race clothing—something warm and comfortable.

2.       Swim stuff—wetsuit, 2 pairs of goggles, lube if you need it, swim cap, bib number and race belt if you plan to wear it under your wetsuit.

3.       Bike stuff—helmet, cycling shoes, ride nutrition, bib number and race belt, optional sunglasses, optional computer stuff

4.       Run stuff—running shoes, optional socks, run nutrition, optional hat, sunglasses

5.       Post race clothing—something warm and dry.  Maybe a towel for a shower if available.

Pre-race set up.

·         Arrive at the race at least 90min early,

·         Take bike out of car, pump tires AND LEAVE YOUR PUMP IN THE CAR!!

·         Rack your bike, make sure brakes are not rubbing (spin them and look for 1-2mm space between both sides)

·         Scope out the transition zone flow—where you enter from the swim, exit on the bike, enter from the bike and exit to the run.

·         Place your helmet on the bars, upside down, sunglasses inside the helmet, open and ready to slip on

·         Place cycling shoes and race belt with number attached on the side from which you will approach your bike.

·         If you are going to wear socks, place one on each shoe.

·         Place your ride nutrition where you want it and will not forget it, or waste time getting it.

·         Place your running shoes on the side from which you will approach your bike.  If it is the same side as your cycling shoes are on, put them behind your cycling shoes.

·         If you are going to wear socks, place one on each shoe.

·         Place your optional hat on top of your running shoes.

It’s that simple.  Should take 5min.  6 at most.

Take any large objects like bins, chairs or baskets and put them back in your car.  Be courteous to your fellow competitors and take up as little space as necessary.  They paid their money too and deserve a clutter-free environment more than you deserve to be perfectly comfortable.

Next, get body marked.

Pick up timing chip (remember, you need your bib number to get the chip)


45min before race start

·         Ride easy for 10-15min.  Make sure all your gears work.

·         Remember to wear your helmet for this as it technically counts as part of the race and you could be disqualified.

·         Leave your bike in the correct gear for starting off (ie if on an up hill, in an easy gear)

·         Reset your bike computer to zero.

·         Re-place your helmet and shoes properly.

·         Eat something small like a Powerbar or bagel.

30min before race start,

·         don the wetsuit.  A plastic bag on the feet and/or hands helps with the extremities sliding through the neoprene sleeve.

10-15min before race start

·         Get wet.  Get your face wet for sure. 

·         Go for a swim if allowed.  Do some drills and a few 20m accelerations to get the blood flowing.

·         Get out of the water and stay loose.


All this should, of course, be done while paying strict attention to any and all race announcements.

Why no socks on the bike?  I have always found that sand or dirt in the feet after the swim falls off in the shoes during the bike ride, so you do not have to spend any time cleaning and drying them before putting socks on for the run, if you are going to wear socks in the run.

This schedule should accommodate port-o-pottie line up time.

A word about extra weight and multiple water bottles on the bike: a body cannot absorb more than a large water bottle of fluid in an hour, so if the ride is going to take you close to or less than that, save the weight and ride with one.  You’ll be fine.

Triathlon Transitions Made Simple