Race Day Essentials for Triathletes

Here at Team Wilpers our goal is for athletes to arrive at the starting line armed not only with a scientifically backed training program, but also with the practical knowledge of how to execute a triathlon and the tools to do so.

As race day approaches, we want our athletes to focus on going fast and far, knowing that the race day logistics have been planned and practiced. One key element to reduce stress in those hours before the horn blows is having a rock solid race day bag, packed and ready to go. 

We’ve put together a list of essential items for race day that can be used as a starting point. It’s also helpful to create an additional checklist based on the race location, distance, and your specific needs. We recommend organizing items in 4 separate gallon-sized ziploc plastic bags: one for swim, one for bike, one for run, and one for everything else. 

Below, I’ve answered a few questions from some of our athletes based on my personal experiences.

– Coach Rebeccah Team Wilpers Triathlon Coach

What kind of bag should I use? 

A backpack with side pockets for water bottles and some interior pockets, like the Speedo Teamster 35L.  Why a backpack? Because you might find yourself riding your bike or running to and from the race site. I once saw a fellow athlete tumble off their bike the morning of a race because they were trying to manage a duffle bag slung over their shoulder. The bag I’ve been using for years is a skateboarding backpack with velcro straps that are for attaching a skateboard to the backpack, but they are perfect for strapping on a wet wetsuit after a race. 

Why do I need nail scissors and electrical tape?

Electrical tape is one of the best ways to attach gel packets or other fuel to your bike frame. The scissors also come in handy if you need to cut your race numbers down to size if they don’t fit on your bike frame and the tape can be used if the numbers lose their stickiness and need reinforcement (this happens often!). Also, it’s just good to have these two items on hand in case you need to make a last minute repair or adjustment. I even used my nail scissors to cut a few inches off the legs of my wetsuit right before my first World Cup race because my coach was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it off fast enough. So you never know!

Why do I need throw-away shoes?

You do not always need to have throw-away shoes or clothes, but some races have long (sometimes a mile!) walks from the transition to the swim start. If you have sensitive feet or if it is cold out, you will want something on your feet. Unless you have someone with you at the race (and they can keep track of you), you will have to donate or throw away the shoes when you get to the start area. I usually save a pair of old running shoes for this cause, but if I don’t have a pair that I want to throw away, socks are a good substitution.  

Do you unpack these items between races?

No! After a race, I replenish my supplies, repack my bag, and put it away until the next race. I’ve had the same plastic bags for a few years!