Plan of Action: What to Expect at your First Triathlon.

author : Glenn
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I have seen cyclists go to a bike shop the day before a race expecting their problem to be fixed, only to be told the shop cannot complete the job in time.

The night before the race

If this is a race where you can collect your numbers the day before, then get you race numbers and stick them all on in the right places. Usually, a number is required on the helmet—either on the sides or the front. One number is usually placed on the bike too—at the back, which you can place on your seat post or cabling.

Check your bike

I suggest checking your bike at least two days before the race in order to get things repaired in a timely fashion. I have seen cyclists go to a bike shop the day before a race expecting their problem to be fixed, only to be told the shop cannot complete the job in time. I would not want to go to race knowing my bike is not right. It has to be one of the most frustrating ways to not finish your race….DNF DTTP—Did Not Finish Due To Technical Problems. Remember that race officials will do a bike check where they see your helmet fastens properly, your brakes work, and your tri bars are secure.


Without wishing to promote things going badly, this story serves to impress the importance of ensuring your bike is in good working order a day or so before the race. I was once racing overseas and staying with some fellow athletes. One of the athletes decided to make some changes the evening before a race. He dismantled his bike and then could not fix the problem. The end result was that he rode on a bike that gave him endless problems during the entire race.

Pack your kit bag

I always recommend you pack your race kit the night before the race, especially if it is morning race (which is more than likely the case in South Africa).


What are essential items?


 Wetsuit
 Swim goggles
 Suntan lotion
 Warm up oil
 Towel for transition area
 Bike shoes
 Helmet
 Run shoes
 Drinking bottles
 Post-race recovery bottles
 Energy gels/bars
 Toilet paper
 Sunglasses
 Race clothes
 Race numbers
 Plastic bags
 “Marker”

You may ask, “Why toilet paper?” Well, if you urgently require the toilet before the race usually so does everyone else. Queues to the toilet are long and people get anxious that they miss the start of the race or will not get time to warm up. Your own “loo roll” enables you to pay homage to Mother Nature as she intended it. You certainly do not have to wait in queues!

Race day bottles
I generally make my race day bottles the night before as well. This generally makes sense in our hot climate, as the bottles cab stay overnight in the fridge or even freezer and you have a cold drink for the race.

Towels
Usually I take a towel, on which I place my running shoes. Some athletes also place their gels for the run on the towel. The towels help prevent small stones and even thorns from getting into your shoes when you change. So, yes, use them to stand on when you change.

Plastic bags
Why on earth this item, you ask?
Very simple….rain. You need to experience one race when everything gets soaked and you will know why I suggest plastic bags to place over your shoes, etc.

Use your common sense too. Take plastic bags in case it looks like rain. Most of my races are in Europe so rain is almost a certainty.

I usually cover my bike (helmet resting on handlebars) with a large raincoat, and my shoes with those disposable black bags. My run shoes are in another plastic bag.

“Marker”

This is only an essential item if you feel you might experience difficulty locating your bike in the transition area. Some athletes place a small flag, a flag with a number, or something else that helps them identify their location. In big races, even top pros have “lost” their bikes temporarily. I have even seen this at World Championship races at the elite level. It is a frustrating experience that I’m sure you would prefer to avoid!

Personally, I prefer to complete all the “nitty- gritty’ details the day before the race so I can simply focus on the race itself. On race day I tend to operate in a different mode of thought, and often I have forgotten small (but later to prove important) details.

For me, the more organized I am, the better chance my race goes well because I am relaxed.

Race day

Early bird gets the worm
It is always a good idea to plan to get to the race early. At some races there are queues of cars waiting to park. If you arrive early you can park and prepare at your leisure. Usually, I aim to be at a race 90 minutes before the event. This may seem like a long time, but the time passes very quickly. I prefer to be as relaxed as possible by the time I line up, so I avoid unnecessary delays.


Another good reason to arrive early is so you can be more selective in the transition area. At some races, it can be a battle to find a good spot to rack your bike. Find a place that is equidistant from of the entrance and the exit. Generally, no one other than the athlete is allowed into the transition area. Some races do not allow you to place a kit bag with you in the transition area. Usually you can only collect your bike after the race is finished.

Attend the race briefing
If you are new, then the race briefing is essential. If you have some experience, the race briefing is still essential! The race briefing tells you what to expect during the race. Sometimes, small changes have been made to the course. If you are not at the briefing you will not know about these changes and this could prove costly. Once again, I have seen experienced pro triathletes not attend a race briefing and lose the race because they were not informed. It is your fault if you choose not to attend!

Once you have warmed up and attended the briefing you are down the start line and your great adventure can finally begin! Enjoy it!



Glenn Macnamara is an elite Duathlete. He is sponsored by ENERVIT. For more information contact www.enervitsa.net or glenn@valueanalytics.co.za

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date: November 14, 2004

Glenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

avatarGlenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

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