There’s a lot to think about on the day of your first triathlon, so the last thing you want to do is get to the race and find out you forgot your goggles! The key is to have a good triathlon checklist to hand as you pack, so print this out to make sure you pack right.
Bag or box.
Let’s be honest, you’re going to be taking a lot of kit from your car to transition whilst also pushing a bike, so a good container ( or a helpful friend) is a must! There are two main options:
- A plastic box that can sit on top of your handlebars. This takes a little practice but is definitely a good option if you want to save money. Make sure it’s plastic though and has holes at the bottom so the water can drain.
- A transition bag. Slightly more expensive, but a lot more practical, transition bags are designed to hold all of your kit, from dry bags for wetsuits to specialised helmet compartments, transition bags are ideal for storing and transporting your kit, plus they help you organise all of your equipment to make packing simpler. You may also find it has a triathlon checklist attached as well, so there would be no excuse! Wiggle has a good range here.
The best way to approach the triathlon checklist and packing is by section from pre-race through to dressing for the swim and on to what you need for the bike and run.
Pre-race triathlon checklist
- Race briefing – this is essential as it will help you remember the timings and locations, plus let you check any last minute concerns or registration requirements
- Race licence – if you race demands a licence, you need to have bought one in advance
- Triathlon Checklist, to double check!
- Trisuit – racing in the nude is not allowed! Whatever you are wearing under the wetsuit needs to be suitable for all three legs, comfortable and packed!
- Body glide, baby oil or lubricant of your choice
- Goggles. If you have them, take a spare pair as well, as goggle elastic has a nasty habit of breaking just when you don’t want it too!
- Race hat. Most races will give you a specific hat which may be coloured if there are different waves and must be worn. However, if you are worried about the cold or like to have two hats to keep your goggles on, make sure you carry a spare. Don’t forget to wear the race one on top though.
- Timing chip – You won’t be packing it, but need to remember to put it on!
- Race belt – One of the problems with triathlon is where the number goes. You need one on the front for the Run and one on the back for the Bike, but you don’t have time to put them on before the Bike, so they need to be on during the swim. It’s totally fine to pin them on to your trisuit ( assuming they give you two numbers) but the best option is a racebelt, which is an elastic belt that the number attaches to. You can either put it on under your wetsuit or slip it on after the swim. Wiggle has a selection here
- Flip flops – Optional. There can be a long walk from transition to the swim start, so you might want to wear some light shoes which you can leave at the swim start and pick up later.
- Water bottle. You might want to have extra water available if it’s warm and you have a long wait between transition closing and race start. Don’t forget you can’t take it with you so don’t take the bottle off your bike.
- Towel. This is a good marker for transition, if allowed, and lets you dry your feet before you put your socks or shoes on.
- Bike – this is a difficult one to miss, but it does happen! Not only must you have your bike, but it needs to be in full working order. That means tires are pumped up, gears and brakes work and you are complying with any specific bike rules ( bar end caps is a common rule for example)
- Helmet – You shouldn’t be riding a bike without a proper bike helmet in any case, but it’s essential for racing. you won’t be allowed into transition without a proper bike helmet that clips under the chin and fits properly. If you have an aero helmet, make sure that any attachments are also in the bag
- Bike shoes
- Socks – One of the big talking points in triathlon is whether you should run and ride with socks on, but if you decide to, make sure that they are in the bag, your feet won’t thank you if you haven’t planned for barefoot running!
- Talc – if you are going barefoot, putting talc inside your shoes is essential to avoid rubbing and to soak up some of the water from wet and clammy feet- but don’t go sockless unless you’ve tried it. Blisters halfway through a race will definitely slow you down more than taking the extra 30 seconds to dry your feet and put socks on.
- Gels or nutrition – Whatever fueling strategy you’ve decided on, the bike is going to be where the majority of the fuel is taken on, so make sure your gels are on your bike, whether in a bike bag or taped to your frame so you can access them easily
- Bike bottle – full of water or sports drink as appropriate, easily accessible and not leaking. Practice using your water bottle in advance so you are comfortable accessing it on the move.
- Bike computer. Optional, but if you are setting specific pacing goals, you want to make sure it’s charged and working in advance, including being connected to any cadence or power meters you are planning to rely on. Make sure they are working to.
- Sunglasses. Again, optional especially if it’s a dull day, but the will keep any flies, dust or stones out of your eyes, so are good protection. Wiggle’s range Includes the cheaper own brand DHB glasses, and it might be worth buying a clear pair in case the weather is dark but you still want the protection
- Lightweight rain jacket or Gilet. Again, weather dependent and optional. You are wet already, so a little rain shouldn’t bother you, but a long cycle in cold or windy weather is no fun, so its worth having the option
- Rubber bands – if you want to do a flying mount, make sure you have a handful available in case one breaks.
- Bike tools and inner tubes – If you are out cycling you need to know how to fix a flat and carry the required kit. If you are competent, you should also have a quality multitool. Whether you take it on the bike or leave it on your bag is a matter of distance and whether you value plan to complete or compete!
- Cycling top or t-shirt – optional, but worth having with if it gets cold.
- Running shoes – you can’t run in cycling shoes, and barefoot is rarely an option, so make sure you have your running shoes available. Similar to the bike, if you are planning to run sockless, make sure you have practised and put talc in your shoes before the race.
Phone and money are obviously important but don’t forget, you won’t be able to listen to music during the run. Most races ban headphones on the bike and run legs.
Finally, you need to have a change of clothes, as the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of the day in a sweaty trisuit and wet trainers.