You are about to leave home for your triathlon. You have to travel to the event. What should you pack?
Such a mundane question! But get it wrong and the event you have put so much sweat and tears into (hopefully not too much blood) can be ruined. We have said it before – but triathlon is a gear intensive event. Forget one vital piece and you will be disappointed come race day.
Best to think about the packing in five different sections:
- Breakfast for race morning (I suggest protein shake and banana)
- Electrolyte for sipping pre race (you will need water bottle and the actual powder itself to go in it)
- Warm clothes to put over tri suit in early morning chill. These may need to be discarded in a plastic bag at the side of transition where no one is watching over them whilst you race. So make them cheap ones no one else will want to steal!
- Shoes to wear whilst you wait for the start. You will be leaving your runners and bike shoes in transition which likely closes well before you race. It can be chilly or uncomfortable to hang around in bare feet so pack some thongs or old trainers. Again, be prepared to leave them in a random plastic bag somewhere so leave your best Nikes at home.
- You may also need to register on the morning of your event (It all depends upon the size of the event and if you have pre-registered etc and picked up your numbers). Check this out and have your driving license on you if you do need to register. In this case ensure you can leave it safely somewhere whilst you race.
- Sun tan lotion if necessary. Apply before you start and ensure its waterproof – you won’t have time to re-apply in the shorter events.
- Small towel you can pop next to your bike in transition to ‘mark’ your spot (just like a dog!) I will teach you how to lay out your transition area properly but best to have a towel to help you do this. You may also need another small one to rub down your feet after the swim getting rid of sand etc so you can get your shoes and/or socks on comfortably.
- Tri-suit. I am assuming you are going to wear this for the whole race?
If not then ladies, pack your swimsuit and think about the clothes you are going to put on after you finish the swim. Don”t try for a full change – its embarasing taking off your swim suit in transition!! If you need extra support for the run then wear your sports bra under your swim suit and leave the lot on for the whole event. NB Practise this beforehand. You do not want a wet sports bra rubbing you for the next 3 hours.
Gentlemen – you are a bit luckier but you need to know that whatever you swim in you can also cycle in or your bits are going to get rubbed! Again – practise it all beforehand. Do not wear full cycle shorts complete with extra padding – it will act like a nappy in the water. Do not wear budgey smugglers on the bike though. You will hurt.
- Wetsuit if applicable.
- Glide/vaseline etc for smearing over wrists, ankles and neck preventing rubbing AND facilitating the quick removal of the wetsuit.
- Plastic bags to help get the wetsuit on quickly and properly
- Goggles having used the anti-fog stuff the night before to clean them
- Timing device if you have one
None of the above gets taken into transition. You wear it or carry it till race start becuase transition will become closed before you set off and you cannot slip in to get your goggles even if you inadvertently left them next to your bike.
- Er – you’ll need your bike!
- Track pump – pack this and pump up the tyres the night before and then leave in your car or hotel. There is always some nutter who clutters transition with one so you can easily borrow theirs if the worst case scenario happens on race day and your tyres magically deflate before you start.
- One or two filled water bottles with electrolyte
- Puncture repair kit attached to bike (if this applies)
- Bike helmet
- Bike shoes (if applicable) or trainers
- Bike measuring device (if applicable)
- Sun glasses (if you choose to wear them)
- Any other bike nutrition (I don’t recommend anything more than a carb/electrolyte drink for Olympic distance but longer events require more nutrition)
- Socks. You have a choice here. Some people choose to NOT put socks on for the bike because it’s tricky to get socks onto wet feet. If you choose to take this time saver ensure you have practised riding your bike without socks for an appropriate period of time – we don’t want blisters
- Bike jersey or padded shorts. I am assuming you are still wearing a tri-suit. If you are pulling on a bike jersey or padded shorts just remember you may find it tricky due to your wet body from the swim. Be patient.
- Running Top. I am assuming you are still wearing your tri suit? If you need to pull on a running top or T shirt this will be fine after the bike transition. You won’t be as wet as when you finish the swim and it will pull on more easily.
- Race Belt with Number attached. Make sure you know whether the number has to face the front or the back during the run. (Some events may need you to display during the bike too – with the advent of timing chips this has become mostly something of the past – but check anyway)
- Sun Glasses (assuming you did not wear them on the bike)
- Running socks. Unless you KNOW you can run the full distance in the exact runners you will be wearing with the same exact conditions as race day please put socks on after the bike (if you have not put them on already). You WILL get blisters unless you have practised many times.
- Elastic laces. This can save time in transition rather than lacing up your shoes. Sometimes it leaves your trainers feeling loose though. Practise!!!
- Timing device if you have one.
After the Race
- Post race clothing – may well be the same as what you left in a plastic bag near transition before you started
- Post race nutrition – again I recommend a protein shake BUT if you can’t carry all the gear for this, a protein bar (to meet your protein needs) and some carbs (oat bar or something) to replenish glycogen stores will do. Don’t rely solely on what the race organisers put on post event. They are very focused on ensuring you re-hydrate properly and refuel somewhat. They will not meet your protein needs however.
- Water bottle with post race recovery drink (if you have one) or water. You can leave this with mates or in that plastic bag again.
- Camera – for the obligatory post race photo. Hopefully your non racing mates provide this service for you.
Hope this helps you prepare and pack properly. Please pack several days before you leave giving yourself time to get everything in the bag. Don’t spoil race day for the sake of a bit of pre race planning. If I have forgotten anything please comment and let me know. We are always learning!
PS Did I mention have a bike service several days before you leave? NO – well do it! Why would you race on worn tyres, a mucky chain or broken hanger and spoil all your training efforts?