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  • Writer's pictureSwimBikeRun Fun

5 Things Not to Bring to Your First Triathlon Transition

Austin's CapTex Triathlon Transition Area 2021
Austin's CapTex Tri Transition Area 2021

So, you’re going to do a triathlon or duathlon soon. It may even be your first tri. You deserve two high fives 🙌 just for even committing via a paid registration to complete a triathlon.

If you are part of any of the Facebook triathlon groups, chatted with a fellow triathlete at your gym, or follow the #triathlontraining hashtag on Instagram - You’ve likely already been bombarded with a gazillion tips on how to tri faster, easy ways to fit in triathlon training, the best training plans to use, and advice on what kit to wear for speed and comfort - your head is likely on the verge of exploding.

Recently, at a Memorial Day local triathlon - we stopped by the transition to support our new club athletes doing their first tri and we were SHOCKED!


Transition looked more like an unorganized yard sale

Granted - it was one of the first races out of COVID and everyone - even the seasoned racer was a bit out of tune.

We offered our best advice that morning and it came in the form of WHAT NOT TO DO.

Down by our Texas Capital, CapTex Tri presented by Life Time offers three distances over memorial weekend in the downtown area:

Austin's CapTex Triathlon Distances Chart 2021
CapTex Triathlon Distances Chart 2021

The majority of our racers - let’s be exact here - 7 out of 11 of them did the Rookie or Sprint distance that morning.

Look at the chart carefully above for the race distances of each leg of the various triathlons.

We asked that you do so because what we are about to suggest applies to short-distance triathlons, first-timers, and those looking to improve their transition times in short course races.

Majority of our tri club members were swimming between .16 - .46 of a mile, biking less then 13 and running a 5K or less.

SwimBikeRun Fun wants to simplify your first race experience and share some suggestions about what you don’t need in the transition area of a rookie or standard sprint triathlon race.

5 Things Not to Bring to Your First Triathlon Transition [T1 SWIM - BIKE]

Just to dissect this down to simple bits - Transition #1 or T1 - is when you move from Swim-Bike in a triathlon.

Ditch the Gloves

Cycling gloves are designed for protection against abrasions in a crash and to absorb shock during longer rides. Extremely hard to wrangle on when hands are wet and require your full attention to slide fingers into the right holes.

Given the short bike leg distances for CapTex Rookie and Sprint races - it’s not worth the time during these quick races to wriggle them onto your wet hands. {Longer distances and Colder weather are the exceptions to}

Beach Towels

We have seen some massive setups at this local race, some towels taking up more space than the length of a standard bike - lined with buckets, extra towels, coolers, and a full spread of tri gear.

We get it - no one - especially no one more than Camille {she swims with her flip flops to keep her feet clean as possible} likes to stick wet, sandy, and dirty feet into cycling or running shoes. That is a surefire easy way to bring on blisters.

We know very well you will want and need your feet clean after that barefoot run across the muddy ground and grass.

A small hand towel will do the trick.

A quickie one-two swipe of your feet against your opposite calf should do the trick of removing most of the big dirt for most of you.

Then as you are putting on your helmet while STANDING UP - use the smallish towel in T1 to give your feet a good rub and debridement of the toes.

Boom - move on quickly once your helmet is put your feet into your shoes.

The wind will dry off the rest of your body as you tick away the miles on the bike.

Sunscreen & Body Glide

Put those things very important - skin cancer saving and booty loving- lotions on at home. In a pinch - arrive in transition early and put it on BEFORE the race.

Extra Food/Water for the Bike

All fueling for the bike leg of your race should be located on your bike. During a rookie or sprint triathlon, you’ll only need to eat 1-2 times at most on the bike, and it should all be able to fit on your frame-top tube/bento- box.

Don’t worry about finding/picking up gels or bars to stuff in your pockets during your T1 transition.

Race Practice tip: On our long rides rehearse race day fueling. Practice opening your bento box, wrangling with the wrappers, and practice eating them while you’re pedaling.

Landmark Balloon/Flag

Not cool. Even called out as NOT permitted in some athletes' guides. But you’ll see at least one at every race: a balloon to mark someone’s transition spot.

Pass on this one. Don’t do it. As athletes and event coordinators - we can tell you with certainty - there have been instances where this caused more problems than it solved.

Best alternative - do a mock run-through or swim in & jog the transition zone pre-race, and memorize your route from swim to bike - plus, it’ll help you warm up.

Best Triathlon Advice on What NOT to do in Transition

Many triathletes over-think their first race and their transition setup. This advice is geared towards the shorter course triathlons like the super sprint, rookie, and sprint distance triathlons.

We advocate by all means for you to be comfortable - can't have fun if you're uncomfortable- SO if you can ditch the gloves, putting on sunscreen/glide in transition, full-blown detail dry off, picking up & putting food into your pockets, and leaving unnecessary equipment like buckets and balloons at will be thanking up for improved peace of mind and performance.

If you can simplify things by minimizing your stuff in transition, then you will stress less, likely improve your speed and definitely put yourself in a position to enjoy more #swimbikerunFUN!


  1. Transition Check List Builder (click to download) Create a custom triathlon race-day checklist pdf - free!

  2. USAT Race-Day Event Checklist (click to download) Team USA's triathlon checklist pdf-free!



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