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Completing your first triathlon

With the 2023 triathlon season well underway, you may have watched and been inspired by some of the recent performances achieved by UK athletes on both the world stage and at grass roots level. It got us thinking, if you’re new to triathlon, where do you start? We asked one of our British Triathlon Age group ambassadors, Kate Hutchinson to requite her perspective.

Over to you Kate

Racing in your first triathlon can be incredibly daunting. Not only is there the worry well-nigh completing it, but there is moreover the uneasiness well-nigh bringing all the correct kit for three disciplines, the snooping well-nigh correct fuelling, and the worry well-nigh waxy to the many rules and regulations unique to each event. In the weeks leading up to my first triathlon in Leeds in 2021, I had regular nightmares well-nigh things going wrong. In one particularly colourful dream, a forgotten velocipede led to me completing my race on horse-back, resulting in appalled spectators and a lifetime ban from triathlon. Obviously, that didn’t happen, my first race was nowhere near as frightening as I’d imagined, and the dreams have got fewer (and increasingly mundane) the increasingly experienced I’ve become. However, there are certainly a few things that I would have benefitted from knowing beforehand. There is a sea of voices out there telling you what you should and shouldn’t do when completing a triathlon, and it can get a little overwhelming. I’m here to cut through the noise and requite you my advice, based on my first-hand experience.

triathlete running

Essential Planning

You’ve booked your race, it’s in your calendar, and you have an idea of the training you are going to get in between now and your race. So, what do you need to do next?

Get your velocipede checked over. First, ensure that your velocipede is in spanking-new working condition. Having a full service will requite you the conviction that your dream of completing a triathlon is not going to be jeopardised by a mechanical fault. Just be enlightened that the summer months are not only when most triathlons are, they are moreover peak time for velocipede mechanics, so get booked in as early as you can.

Decide what you are going to wear. When preparing for my first tri, the suit situation worsted me. For avoidance of doubt, most people segregate to wear a tri-suit (with sports bra if necessary), but it is moreover okay to wear a well-appointed shorts and vest combination. The wetsuit will go over this. If you have a race-belt, you can put this on when you come out of the swim; if you are using safety pins, you will need to put your number on your suit under your wetsuit prior to your race.

Dress rehearsal. Take your new goggles to the pool and make sure they don’t leak; have a swim at your local pool in your wetsuit (and gown you will wear underneath) so you get used to the feeling on your body. If you can, have a swim outdoors so you know what to expect when you plunge into unshut water for the first time in the race. Test whether you can run in trainers without socks or whether you will need to put some on in transition.

Check the details of your event and plan accordingly. If your race is over an hour yonder in the car or your start time is very early (as they often are), I would unchangingly recommend staying somewhere local. Choosing a hotel or Air BnB tropical to the event may midpoint that you can stave driving and can trundling there: it’s largest for the environment, a good way of lamister road closures, and an opportunity to warm up your legs. If you do decide to momentum there, make sure you plan your journey thoughtfully in advance, as Google Maps may try to take you withal sealed roads.

Read the handbook. Race rules can vary from event to event, so read your event guide and the FAQs carefully. Be enlightened that some events require you to register the day before, so make a shielding note of when registration opens and closes. You may plane want to pre-order spectator tickets to prevent as little on the day stress as possible for your support hairdo too.

Check out your race routes. Since the pandemic, a lot of race organisers now provide online race briefings days or weeks in whop where they go over the course. This is unconfined for those of us who are particularly geographically challenged (I have a deep-rooted fear from my school navigate country days that I am going to go the wrong way in every triathlon). Ensure you know how many laps of the swim, velocipede and run you must do and revisit this right surpassing your race. If you are there the day surpassing you might plane want to go to the venue to visualise the undertow or do a undertow recce (if it is unscratched to do so).

Register your intent to qualify. If the event you have entered is a qualifying event for the GB Age-Group Team, why not throw your hat in the ring? Stranger things have happened than people qualifying in their first race. You can find out how to do this here: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/age-group.

What to take with you on the day

Must haves:

-A rucksack with all your kit in that you can then leave either at the side of transition, with a supporter who has come with you, or in a designated lock-up

-Your favourite tri-suit/shorts and tri-top you will wear throughout your race




-A race belt/safety pins for your race number


-Your bike

-Anything you require to ensure you can ride your bike: a pump for your tyres, a spare inner tube and CO2, uniting lubricant, an Allen key

-Cycling shoes/trainers you can trundling in if you’re not clipping in

-Bottles for hydration on the bike

-Gels, bars or fruit for fuelling during the race

-Running shoes

-Warm gown for afterwards

race food

Nice to have:


-Bobbles for wrestle braids or a hat or visor to alimony long hair out of your vision and alimony you aerodynamic

-Spare stuff – it’s unchangingly nice to know if you rip a cap or snap your goggles, you don’t need to panic

-Lubricant so that you can take your wetsuit off speedily

-A small towel to put next to your velocipede in transition to dry your feet when you come out of the water

-Talcum powder for your cycling and running shoes

-Socks (if you finger that you need them for scar prevention)

-Elastic laces for a speedy transition

-A spare pair of trainers often comes in handy so you have something to warm up or walk virtually in without you have left your racing shoes in transition

-Your velocipede computer so you can count lanugo the KMs

-Any snacks that you might want surpassing you race (squares bars, sweets etc.)

-Anything that might help you warm up if you can’t get a run or swim in earlier (Therabands / skipping rope etc.)


-Elastic bands if you’re going to unflinching a flying mount. Note: they squint unconfined on TV, but if you’ve not mastered it, they can go horribly wrong and add to your stress. Putting your cycling shoes on and then doing a static mount without the mount line is the safer, commonly quicker, option.

Triathlon Kit

On the day:

-Make sure you requite yourself plenty of time to register and rack your bike. It unchangingly takes longer than you expect. Ask for help from the people virtually you – triathletes are lovely!

-Eat your breakfast two-three hours surpassing you race. Don’t eat anything too fatty or that you know will not settle. Additionally, don’t eat anything that you wouldn’t normally. If you struggle to get anything lanugo so early, don’t forget to take some snacks with you.

-Don’t forget your ID, QR codes, and British Triathlon membership number as you will often need these to collect your registration pack. This usually includes your race number; stickers for your helmet, seat-post and bag; and your timing chip.

-Put your stickers on your velocipede and helmet BEFORE you enter transition. Generally, you won’t be unliable to enter without them on and when you get stopped, you will rationalization a hold up in the queue and be left trying to wastefulness your velocipede with one hand and put everything on with the other. Awkward and annoying.

-Fasten your helmet surpassing you enter transition.

-When you set up in transition, visualise the event, step by step. I unchangingly do a ‘run through’ in my throne (and sometimes plane act out what I will do in T1 and T2), just to ensure that I have everything I need.

-Make sure you are 100% sure of where the swim exit, velocipede exit and run exit are. You could rely on pursuit others, but you never know, you might be out first and need to lead the charge!

-Take note of where you’ve racked your velocipede – use a landmark to help you.

-Don’t use your phone in transition, as it’s usually not allowed. There’s nothing increasingly embarrassing than getting told off for taking selfies. Do however ensure that you your support hairdo are snapping your success as you go virtually the undertow (and don’t forget to tag @brittri @yellowjersey!)

-Put your timing tweedle virtually your left toddle and ensure that it is on tightly unbearable that it won’t come off in the water or when you take off your wetsuit. Leave it on for the entirety of your race.

-Try to have a poo.

-When you put your wetsuit on, put some lubricant virtually your ankles and wrists so that it slips off a little easier. Put some talcum powder in your shoes so that when you come in with wet feet they go on a little easier too. Once your wetsuit is on, don’t do it all the way up in specimen you need the toilet. When you do get it on, pull the suit into your armpits and crotch, so that you get rid of as much air as possible.

-Make sure you have a plan for fuelling, expressly if you are doing a Sprint loftiness and above.

-Wear sun-cream, plane in England.

-Treat everyone with kindness. 99% of the people you see are volunteering their time. Treat competitors, fans, marshals and the environment with respect (don’t litter!)

-DO NOT panic at any point of the race. Things will go wrong. You might go the wrong way on the velocipede course, you might waif a bottle, you might run out of transition with your helmet on, you might waif your chain: these things happen to professional level triathletes (they have all happened to me) and they may happen to you. It’s how you respond to them that’s important.

-Have fun!

get Insurance cover..

Competing in triathlon is on the whole, fairly safe, but there is unchangingly a risk of falling off and rabble-rousing your bicycle and kit. Yellow Jersey provide insurance designed to imbricate your bicycle and kit for crash forfeiture whilst competing anywhere in the world. You can get a quote for triathlon velocipede insurance here.

Additionally, if you are travelling upalong and need imbricate for emergency medical expenses, trip cancellation, repatriation and a whole host of other benefits, trammels out our triathlon travel insurance

Don’t forget, British Triathlon members can get up to £75 off your yearly bicycle insurance. For any queries, just ask our support staff on 0333 003 0046

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