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Welcome to Triathlon: A Newcomer’s Guide

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With the 2024 triathlon season in full swing, the inspiring performances of UK athletes on both global and local stages might have sparked your interest in the sport. If you’re new to triathlon, you might be wondering where to begin. Here’s a guide to get you started.


Getting Started: Overcoming the Daunting First Race

Entering your first triathlon can be intimidating. Concerns about completing the race, bringing the correct gear for the three disciplines, proper fuelling, and adhering to the unique rules and regulations of each event can all add to the anxiety. With so much advice out there, it can be overwhelming. We’re here to streamline the process and provide you with practical advice from first hand experience.

Essential Planning

You’ve booked your race and marked it on your calendar. You have a training plan in mind. So, what’s next?

What to Wear: The clothing dilemma can be confusing. Most triathletes wear a tri-suit (and a sports bra if needed), but comfortable shorts and a vest are also acceptable. The wetsuit goes over this. If you have a race belt, put it on after the swim; if using safety pins, attach your number to your clothing under the wetsuit before the race.

Bike Maintenance: Ensure your bike is in top condition. A full service can prevent mechanical issues from jeopardising your race. Summer is peak time for both triathlons and bike services, so schedule early.

Dress Rehearsal: Test your gear before the race. Check your goggles for leaks, swim in your wetsuit and race outfit, and practise running in your shoes with and without socks. If possible, swim in open water to get accustomed to race conditions.

Read the Handbook: Rules vary by event, so read the guide and FAQs carefully. Note registration times and consider pre-ordering spectator tickets to reduce race-day stress.

Plan Ahead: If your race is far or starts early, consider staying nearby. This can help you avoid road closures and ensure a smoother start to your day. Plan your route carefully if driving, as GPS may route you through closed roads.

Course Familiarisation: Many events offer online race briefings. Understand the number of laps for each segment and revisit this information before race day. If possible, visit the venue beforehand to visualise the course.


Race Day Essentials


  • A rucksack for your kit
  • Tri-suit or shorts and tri-top
  • Wetsuit, cap, goggles
  • Race belt or safety pins
  • Helmet and bike
  • Bike maintenance items (pump, spare tube, CO2, chain lubricant, Allen keys)
  • Cycling shoes or trainers
  • Bottles and race fuel (gels, bars, fruit)
  • Running shoes
  • Warm clothes for after the race


  • Sunglasses, hair ties, hat or visor
  • Spare gear (cap, goggles, lubricant)
  • Towel for drying feet
  • Talcum powder for shoes
  • Socks and elastic laces
  • Spare trainers for warm-up
  • Bike computer
  • Pre-race snacks
  • Warm-up aids (Therabands, skipping rope)
  • Suncream
  • Elastic bands for a flying mount (if practised)

On the Day Tips

  • Arrive early to register and rack your bike. It always takes longer than expected.
  • Eat breakfast 2-3 hours before your race. Stick to familiar foods.
  • Bring your ID, QR codes, and British Triathlon membership number for registration.
  • Apply race stickers to your bike and helmet before entering transition.
  • Fasten your helmet before entering transition.
  • Visualise your race and do a mental run-through to ensure you have everything.
  • Familiarise yourself with the swim, bike, and run exits.
  • Note where you racked your bike using a landmark.
  • Avoid using your phone in transition. Have your support crew document your race instead.
  • Secure your timing chip on your left ankle.
  • Apply lubricant to your wetsuit and talcum powder to your shoes.
  • Plan your fuelling strategy.
  • Apply suncream.
  • Treat everyone with kindness and respect.
  • Stay calm. Things might go wrong, but it’s how you handle them that matters.
  • Enjoy the experience!

Insurance Cover

Triathlon is generally safe, but accidents can happen. Pedal Cover offers insurance to cover your bike and gear during races worldwide. For travel insurance covering medical expenses, trip cancellations, and more, consider our triathlon travel insurance. Welsh Triathlon members can get a 15% discount on annual bicycle insurance. For any questions, contact our support team at 0800 121 4424.

Good luck and have fun!



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