Race Weekend Checklist

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    Here’s a general list posted awhile back by Sean Ward. I know there are a lot of people new to triathlons so I thought I would share some general ideas on transitions and gear that I use for a triathlon. This isn’t anything scientific, just things I’ve learned (the hard way) over the years. These aren’t written for any specific distance race. I realize that everyone does it a little differently so feel free to add suggestions or comments on what works or doesn’t work for you. This is just what works for me after many, many mistakes. That said, I still seem to tweak it a bit every year.


    GEAR CHECKLIST MISC Headlamp (for early/late season races, it can be dark in transition at 5am) Garbage bags for bike if it’s staying overnight in transition for bars, seat, derailleur, etc. Pump Large towel to lay out gear Small towel to wipe off feet Bucket w/ water for feet after swim or just an extra water bottle works Directions/map Good music for drive Water/Gatorade to sip while driving to race Dry clothes/shoes for post race Extra tubes/tires in case one flats pre-race USTA card Wallet w/ ID Cash Allen wrench Chain lube Extra goggles Toilet paper Game face SWIM Wetsuit Goggles Swim cap provided by race Tri shorts and shirt (I wear these under my wetsuit to cut down on transition time) Watch and heartrate monitor Bodyglide Sunscreen Cheap, disposable flip flops (good if there is a long walk from transition to the swim start) Timing chip BIKE Bike Helmet Bike shoes Socks Race belt and number Sunglasses Water bottles Salt tablets Gloves Arm warmers Long sleeve shirt Toe covers Gel or energy bar (slightly opened so you aren’t fumbling to open it on the bike) Spare tube Tire lever Co2 cartridges Co2 pump or small bike pump RUN Running shoes Socks Hat (for sun or rain) Gel Advil Fuel belt Salt tablets POST-RACE Towel Dry clothes Hat Dry shoes or flip flops Beer mug TRANSITION SET-UP Set multiple alarms. Wake up. This is actually one of the more difficult parts of the day for me. Eat pre race breakfast that you’ve been eating for several weeks. No new foods. Start hydrating by taking small sips of water/Gatorade during the drive to the race. Get to the race early. There are enough race day nerves without having to rush to set everything up. Take all your gear down to the transition area. Get body marked. Then put on sunscreen or else body marking won’t stick. Find your spot among the bike racks. Put your bike in an easy gear so you won’t be grinding a big gear out of T1. Check tire pressure and do once over on your bike to make sure everything is working. Put your water bottles and nutrition on your bike. Rack your bike. Lay down a big towel next to your bike, something colorful will be easier to see during the race. Put all of your gear on your towel to organize it. Put your helmet on to make sure the straps are adjusted properly for a good fit. Put your helmet upside down in your aero bars with the straps hanging out over the side. Put your sunglasses in your helmet with the arms extended facing up in the air so it’s easier to grab. Put your bike shoes at the front of your towel with the straps open. Put one sock in each shoe if you are going to wear socks on the bike. Put bike gloves on top of each shoe if you wear gloves. Put small towel on top of bike shoes for wiping off your feet after the swim. Behind your bike shoe pile, put your running shoes. Use speedlaces so you don’t have to worry about tying your shoes or your shoes coming untied on the run. Put one sock in each shoe. Put running hat next to shoes. Put race belt/number on top of hat. Put any gels you want for the run on top of your hat. The key to a good transition is laying things out in the order you will need it on race day and making things as easy to put on as possible. Putting your sunglasses in your helmet or socks in your shoes just makes it easier not to forget. I try to make it as idiot-proof as possible because my brain tends to stop working every time I enter the transition areas. But most importantly, take some time to practice your transitions ahead of time. A great time to do this is at the DC Tri Club training triathlons or even the Saturday morning bricks. It’s better to be over prepared or bring too many layers than not enough. Weather conditions can change or you could get a flat walking from your car to the race. I like to prepare for the worst at races. And yes, this all sounds very anal but being organized makes me much more relaxed at races. One thing I do after I’ve set up is walk down to the swim exit and walk back up to where my bike is racked. This gives me a good visualization of where things are located. I either note where my rack is located by the number of racks it is from the swim exit or some other landmark. I then walk from my rack to the bike exit. Then I walk from my rack to the run exit if it is different from the bike exit. I also walk from the bike dismount area to my rack. At some races there can be multiple exits and entrances. I spent one race running around the transition area because I couldn’t find the run exit. The other thing I try to do is move quickly through transition but not out of control. I just try to keep it steady and smooth. In a race, I start to prepare for the transition a few minutes before I get there. In the swim, I’m going through my transition in my head a few minutes before I get out of the water. I do the same thing at the end of the bike portion. In the last few hundred meters of the swim, I increase my kick to get my legs ready for the bike. When I get out of the water, I put my goggles on my head and unzip my wetsuit while running and take it off to my waist. I take off my goggles and swim cap and continue to run to my bike rack. I put the goggles and cap down and out of the way and take off my wetsuit. I sit down, give my feet a quick wipe w/ the small towel and put on my bike shoes without socks. I get up, put on my sunglasses and helmet, unrack my bike and run out of T1. As I’m finishing up my ride, I spin at a high cadence to get my legs ready for the run and I go over my transition in my head. I dismount my bike, run to my rack and rack my bike. Take off my shoes and helmet. Some people like to keep their shoes clipped in before they mount or dismount the bike. If you do this, practice it. I put on my socks and shoes. I grab my hat, race belt/number and a gel and put these on while I’m exiting T2. Nothing to it. Just takes some thought and a little practice and you won’t lose any time in the transition area. Stay calm and in control and don’t use the transition area to rest; there is plenty of time to do that after the race. —————————- Sean

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