The hardest part of doing a triathlon (I feel) is packing for Raceday. There is just so much to carry, and each cog is vital, unlike a marathon where you just throw in a pair of shorts, some gels, wear your shoes on flight and you are set!
Here are my thoughts on navigating your first race, from registration to Raceday morning, until you wear your swimming cap and jump in.
Stuff to think about before you begin packing:
Do your research well, and if it is a wetsuit legal race, practice with it. (How to wear and more importantly how to take off your wetsuit!) If its your first or second race, do rent it (rent here) instead of investing in your own. This way, you can find out which style/brand you prefer. Wetsuits are expensive and they don’t stay well, if not used often. Do carry an extra pair of swim goggles, incase something happens to your main pair, and then you will get frantic! Your cap will be given by the organisers. (in case it tears while you are putting it on- don't panic- just ask a volunteer- they usually have extra caps)
Taking the bike to the race location (flying or even driving in a small car) can be quite a production, carton or bike bag being the question!
A detailed post here: Flying with your bike (including Flight rules, packing your bike and more)
As soon as you reach, the first thing to do is to assemble your bike, do a short test ride and make sure that everything is intact. In case, (god forbid!) something is off ( lots of things have been known to happen-- derailleur broken on flight, handle bars twisted etc etc!!) you have a couple of days to scrounge around and fix it.
Alternatively, all races have bike mechanics (for a fee of course) who will assemble your bike and disassemble it post your race and pack it in your bike bag. This is usually done by appointment, to be taken prior to reaching there. DO remember to carry your bike fit measurements so that the bike will be reassembled exactly as per your fit. However, this can be a process, especially when you finish your race and are literally finished, but then have to deal with all this.
So take your call sensibly. You can simplify your life as there are bike bags available which require you to only take off the wheels of the bike, and fit the bike in, zip up the bag and you are ready to roll. (rent a bike bag)
At the Race:
Get your bib, your transition bags and do buy your CO2 cartridges from here. It is a good place to check out some new products as well. Go early to beat the queues.
Don’t forget this photo…
The all important Trial Swim:
Race organisers usually have a couple of trial swims a day or two before and it is important that you test the waters (literally). Get used to the temperature (yes, with your wetsuit!) and check the landscape to see what to keep as markers while swimming back to shore. Sometimes the red IM dot is too small to focus on, from the distance. So find a clump of trees or a tall building.
(Raceday is very chaotic, so take all the photos you want pre race!)
I am a manic organiser so this is how I did it! T1 bag (blue) T2 bag (res) Street bag (white-pre and post race-which you carry with you in the morning...everything MUST go in here).
Before I put all my stuff it in the bag, I laid it all out, checked and double checked before I actually put it in their respective bags. Once its all in, means the only thing left is the race!
This is my list (to be used as a guide only)
Bike Check in:
After your race registration, you will be checking in your bike, a day prior to the race. Remember to deflate your tires (else they may burst).
Stickers go here:
1. On the bike
2. On the helmet
Do attend the pre race briefing. It is fun, and its wonderful to see the energy of the athletes- and important to know the rules, especially for beginners! And a great photo op! ;-)
Have your pre race meal, (oats or whatever you are used to), make sure you have your bracelet and band on. Reach T1 in your trisuit and disposable hotel slippers, don’t wear your wetsuit from home/hotel. Reach early and either carry your pump or borrow one (that is what I did), put your nutrition on the bike, prep the bike, tires and all and then head towards the tents to wear your wetsuit.
Wear the wetsuit at the absolute end, and put your watch on after (I usually wear my watch under my sleeve so that the wetsuit comes off easily). Do carry a disposable box of Vaseline and your plastic bags, to make it easier to put the suit on and off.
That's it! Cap on, goggles on, off to the Corral!
Its here! The day that you trained for…now you can relax and wait for the magic to happen. It is going to be a good day!
Raceday is not the challenging part, it is the reward for the months of hard work while you were training!