BEGINNERS GUIDE TO RACE DAY
Know what to do by the time race day arrives
Mark Steckel of
Here is a
logical progression that you may want to go through when you get to the
- Arrive Early!
A half hour won't be enough time to get everything done. Give yourself
an hour, even more if you can, so that you won't be rushed. If the race
is in or near your home town, you may even want to consider picking up
your race kit the day before the race. That will save you a few
line-ups on race day. If you are considering registering for the race
on Race Day, prepare to stand in line even longer. We cater to those
athletes who register early.
- After parking, take your
bike and gear with you to the transition area (the big fenced in area
with the bike racks) and claim a spot of real estate for yourself.
There's nothing worse than arriving
with plenty of time to spare, but
forgetting to rack your bike FIRST, and then ending up with little or no
room to lay out your gear. If you are doing the Try-A-Tri
make sure you rack your bike in the right area. The
Try-A-Tri will have it's own area which is often smaller than the
regular transition area. All too often people rack their bikes in
the wrong transition area and then they can't find their way in there
once the race starts. When in doubt, ask someone who looks like they
know where they are.
- You can 'rack' your bike
by either hooking the seat over the top rail of the bike rack or by
hooking the handlebars/brake levers over the top rail. The choice is
yours - whichever works better for you. Take a look around to see what
others are doing, and then follow suit. Once your bike is racked, you
can drop your gear next to it - there should be time to lay it out
neatly later. You can pump your tires up beforehand, or in the
transition area - the choice is up to you.
- Now you should consider
heading to the registration area - unless you did that the night
before. Registration flows like this:
the steps to put together your Race Kit. Be sure to
look-up your race number on the big list so that you can tell
the volunteers your number when the time comes. You should leave
Number and pins
Cap if you are doing the triathlon
Along with your all-important T-shirt which you can wear proudly the
- Next you will need
to get Body Marked and pick up your Timing
Chip. Full details on the ChampionChip timing system can be
here. Look for
the big blue ChampionChip tent and that's where volunteers will mark
your race number on your one arm and age group category on your one
calf. They will also give you a timing chip and Velcro strap that
gets worn around the ankle. Your time is electronically monitored
when you step on the big orange mats at the finish line, so be sure to
step on these mats or your time won't be recorded.
- Now that your bike
is racked and you have your race kit, if you arrived early enough you
should have plenty of time to get
Ready to Race:
- First off,
you need to do something with that race number. You
have to finish the race with the number on the front of your body, so
you can either use the pins you were given to pin it to the shirt
you'll wear during the race, or you can use a number belt if you have
lets organize your gear
next to your bike. It's a good idea to
have a towel on the ground to lay out your stuff. Make sure you have
your bike shoes and running shoes laid out in the open with the laces
open so they are easy to get into. Have your helmet either on the
ground near your shoes or on your handlebars, with the strap undone so
it's easy to put on. A good idea is to have your helmet sitting
upside-down with your sunglasses in the helmet. That way, you put on
your sunglasses and then follow that with the helmet and it's hard to
forget either. Next to or underneath your running shoes you may want
to place a hat for the run because the sun can get pretty hot by the
end of the race. Make sure you have your water bottle(s) filled
before the race as well.
- You should
be pretty organized by now so you can use any spare time to
familiarize yourself with the flow of traffic once
the race starts. Figure out where the swim finishes and where you'll
have to run to get your bike. Locate a fixed
landmark (garbage cans may get moved)
or count the number of bike racks to your bike, so that you don't get
lost looking for your bike. It's like looking for a needle in a
haystack if you don't have some idea where to start.
the swim, you will most likely enter the transition at one end and
leave at the other. When you return you reverse things. That is, the
bike starts and finishes at the same side of the transition area, and
the run goes out where the swim came in. Got it?
also a good idea to do a walk or warm-up run of the start of the run
course and finish. That way you won't get lost starting the run and
you'll have some good landmarks as you near the finish line. It's
always nice to know when you are nearing the finish line, so if you
have some visual cues you'll be more comfortable.
best advice I can give any Newbie triathletes is to get to the swim
start early and do a good warm-up in the water. The swim is often the
most daunting part of a triathlon and I don't care if you come from a
swimming background, open water swimming is different than pool
swimming. When you can't see the bottom and there are no lane ropes
people often freak out a bit and then they have trouble swimming.
Factor in any trouble navigating and you've got a long swim on your
hands. Take some time to get comfortable in the water and with the
fact that you can't see as well. Practice sighting the orange buoys
so you won't get lost. The more time you spend getting comfortable,
the less time you'll spend panicking. If you are a weak
swimmer or a beginner, please stay to the back of the pack.
This not only keeps you from getting clobbered, but it also helps
those stronger swimmers get out of your way faster.
more point about the swim. You will see people at the race with
wetsuits. You don't have to have a wetsuit to race, so don't worry.
They do help you float a bit better in the water which can improve
your swimming and that's why people wear them. But, first time
wetsuit wearers often find them constrictive and it causes even more
panic. It's not that they are too tight, but coupled with open water
anxiety they start to feel like they are too tight on your chest. If
you are wearing a wetsuit for your first race, especially if it's
borrowed, spend even more time playing in the water before the race so
that you get VERY comfortable in it.
below, as well.
Here are just a few of the
things that you could get disqualified for in a triathlon. These are
simple things that most people wouldn't do if they knew in advance that it
was against the rules.
- Unracking your bike before
you do up the chin strap on your helmet, or undoing the chin strap
before you rack bike.
- Mounting your bike before
you reach the mount line on the road, or dismounting after the same line
on the road.
- Not wearing a race number
while on the bike and run
- Altering a race number -
you can't fold or cut it to make it smaller, for example.
- Men not wearing a
shirt/top while biking and running (you need
to wear a top during BOTH)
- Competing while listening
to a walkman. This is a safety hazard so DO NOT race with
headphones of any kind.
- Drafting, blocking or
crossing the centerline on the road during the bike portion of a race.
- Not obeying an official or
being abusive to officials.
tread water very well. Do any of your swims start on land?
triathlons will start with a land based swim start. What that means
is you will either start entirely on land and run/walk into the water
or you will be in shallow water where you can touch the ground. All
the Try-A-Tri races offer either a land start or the opportunity to
wait on land until the race starts. NOTE - if you will be wearing a
wetsuit, you will find that you float very easily in the water and
therefore won't have to work hard to tread water.
How do I get
the sand off my feet after the swim?
swims will have a bit of a run to get to the bikes. Often the run is
through grass which will naturally clean your feet. If you get to
your bike and you have sand between your toes, you may want to use a
towel to wipe it off, or some people bring a container like a
Tupperware which they fill with water to rinse their feet. I have
done lots of races and never really had any problems with sand
remaining on my feet after the swim.
I wear during the race?
are lots of options here. Many people just bike in their bathing
suit, which isn't as uncomfortable as one might first imagine. Men
need to finish the race wearing a shirt of some sort, but women can
race in just a bathing suit if they like. If you are a little more
modest than that, you can take time to put on a pair of shorts after
the swim (either cycling or running) and a top but be aware that there
are no changing tents so anything you put on will go over what you are
already wearing. If you are wearing a wetsuit, you should wear
whatever you will biking in under the wetsuit to save time and make
- Where do I place
my bike in the transition area?
transition area is the fenced in lot where the bike racks sit. The
racks are organized into age groups (Men 20-24, Men 25-29, etc.) and
the duathlon racks are separate from the triathlon racks. You need to
find the rack that corresponds with your age group and the race that
you're doing (tri or du) and from there it's first come first serve.
What kind of
equipment do I need to do a race?
are a few bare essentials that you need to do a race. You will need
a bike (anything that is road worthy will do. No need to have a high
tech racing bike for your first triathlon), you must have an
bike helmet (all bike helmets sold today are
certified), you probably want goggles for the swim, you need a
swim suit, running shoes of some kind, cycling shoes if you have
clipless pedals on your bike, and men need a shirt of some sort to
wear. That's the bare minimum, really. You may want a hat for the
run, sunglasses for the bike and run, a water bottle or two on the
bike is a good idea as well. After that, things like wetsuits, fancy
wheels for your bike, racing flats to run in, etc. are all extras.
BT Thanks the following for all
of their support: