Transitions for long distance triathlons are different to standard distance events. With bags to pack ahead of time it can be confusing so it is good to think about this ahead of time. The advice below refers to many different brands of long distance events but remember to read your race instructions for your specific race organiser rules and requirements!
For most long distance races, you’ll get your race numbers when you go to check in/register for the race and they’ll also put a wristband on you and give you your swim cap, your chip, and some chip straps.
In your race packet you’ll find THREE bags, each a different colour. You will have the following:-
Some of the best known long distance events have TWO MORE bags:
All bags will be the drawstring plastic bags that you see at many races nowadays.
There’s a rectangular area on every bag where you will put a sticker (from the race packet) that has your race number on it. The number stickers are all on a sheet together, and are labelled to advise you what to do with them and you need to put your number on all of the five bags.
The other sticker numbers are as follows:
You’ll also usually get 2 race numbers. You can choose to wear one for bike and one for run or you can stick with the same one for both disciplines.
You should have your number on the back for the bike and the front for the run, so a race belt is an ideal choice for this.
The dry clothes bag is where you will put your clothes and shoes (jacket, sweater, joggers etc) that you wear down to the race area. You might also want to pop a snack in there for before or after the race. You will drop this bag off at a designated location as you head to the swim start.
In swim to bike transition bag, you’ll put your helmet complete with attached number sticker, your cycling shoes, any clothes if you are going to change (almost all long distance races have change tents so you can do a full change of clothes if you want), your race belt with number, socks, sunscreen, sunglasses, gloves, etc. Basically, everything that you will need to get going on the bike. This means that you won’t have the usual pile of stuff next to your bike in transition but you can visit your bike on race morning and load up your bike bottles, nutrition, bento box, check tires, etc.
For the swim to bike transition, you’ll get out of the water, then head to the rows of transition bags (laid out in number order with signs), find your bag, go into the changing tent and get ready to ride. Most events will have wetsuit strippers in the changing areas who will assist you to pull your wetsuit off!
Your wetsuit, swim cap and goggles will go into the swim to bike bag when you are changed, and there should be plenty of helpers around to assist you. Then you leave the bag in the tent (it will be available for you to collect after the race) and head off to the bike racks, get your bike and set off. Your bike may be handed to you by a volunteer but that isn’t always the case.
In the bike to run transition bag you’ll have your running shoes, visor or cap, sunscreen, any food items, socks, whatever you need for the final discipline. When you get off the bike, a volunteer will take your bike as you enter transition so you won’t have to rack it. You can leave your shoes on the bike if you wish to.
You then go back to the bag rows and get your other transition bag (this is why they are all different colours!) and head back into the changing tent. Once there you will swap shoes, grab what you need in terms of food, sunscreen etc, and get going. Your bike helmet and shoes will be left in the bike to run bag, which again will be left out for you to collect later.
Be aware that you will drop off your two transition bags and your bike the day before the race. This can be quite worrying if you’re prone to panicking that you’ve forgotten anything, so make a list and double check it. Take your time sorting your bag out although you will be able to check these bags and your bike on race morning.
Not all races have these but:
Bike special needs bag is really for you to put in what you think you may need out on the course – could be prescribed medication, your own bottles of sports drink, some snacks, extra bike tire / inner tubes, extra chamois butter and gels. The race organisers will let you know at the pre-race meeting where the special needs point will be and usually it’s roughly half way through the bike leg. You might not get this bag back after the race so don’t put anything precious in there!
Run special needs again put in what you think you might need – headache tablets or similar, long sleeved shirt, extra socks, snacks, etc. The run special needs point will also be near the halfway part of the run and again, you might not get this bag back after the race.
The special needs bags will be dropped off on race morning at a pre-designated spot.
After the race, you’ll get your medal and be wrapped in a foil blanket, have a photo taken and then you can get some food pick up your dry clothes bag to put your warmer clothes on. Then you head back to pick up your bike and your transition bags. Your special needs bags may be available the following morning but often end up in a huge pile, making it difficult to find your own.
Don’t get phased if it seems complicated at first – the event organisers and marshalls will be on hand to ensure that your transitions are as smooth as possible.