First things first
Packet pickup is your first stop to all things race day. Hopefully you checked out the race web site to get a view of maps, plan out how long it will take to get to the venue, where to park and when and where to get to packet pickup. Most races will not let you pick up your packet on race day. Typically, they have two time offerings. What to bring? Your ID and your USAT card. Without your USAT card, they will make you pay a one-day fee. Be prepared. There you should get your swim cap, wave assignment, race bib, bib number and any decals that go on you or your bike. Be prepared to wait if you go after hours or over lunch when 90 percent of athletes can make it. Sometimes races will hand out chips for timing at packet pickup, and sometimes not. If not, then plan on some time on race morning to get your chip and make sure that’s all set up.
Prep all your gear and have it all ready to go race day. The worst thing is having a to-do list at the crack of dawn being stressed about your race and getting to the venue on time. Do EVERYTHING you can the night and day before. Round up all your gear and pack what you won’t wear to the race.
Even prep your breakfast. If you are an early riser and get to site when transition opens 2 to 3 hours before the race, consider taking your breakfast with you and eat it after you park and rack your bike while waiting for the start gun.
Make a list, check it twice. Don’t have 100 things floating in your head. Write it down and check it off. Be organized. Plan out your route to the race, plan when you will get up and the timing to get on the road. If you’re bringing the family, account for prep time for EVERYONE you are taking with you. Nothing is worse on race morning than spilling energy stressing over getting the kids ready and in the car.
Consider the following check list
SWIM // Swim cap // Wet suit // GPS Watch // Heart rate strap // Goggles // Ear plugs // Anti-chafing cream // Tri top and shorts if you plan to wear then in the swim // Nutrition to eat from close of transition to race start // Hydration
BIKE // Helmet // Tri clothes if not worn under wetsuit // Socks // More anti-chafing cream // Gloves – throwaway if it’s cold at bike start // Sun glasses // Nutrition for the bike – mounted to your bike before race start // Hydration for both sitting in transition and on the bike // Bike shoes // Race belt for bib – some races require race bib to be worn on the bike // Sunscreen
RUN //Run shoes + foot pod if used with race watch // Change of socks if needed // More anti-chafing cream // Hat or visor // Sunscreen // Sunglasses // Hydration // Nutrition
Get there early and eliminate stress of being stuck in traffic. Nothing is worse than watching the clock tick away while waiting to get parked hundreds of feet away from transition. This is where it’s key to plan your route and timing to get to the race venue.
The goal is to be able to bring all your gear in one bag so all you have to carry is a bag and bike from your car to transition. Have your bib out so you can head straight to transition and rack your bike. Typically, racks are not assigned and it’s first come, first served. Arrive late and get less than ideal spot for your bike. Drop bike and gear and head out for your timing chip if not handed out at packet pickup and body markings.
Make time for standing in line at the port-a-potty. Your nerves WILL get the best of you and you will probably need to go early and often. There’s probably somewhere around 1 port-a-potty to 50 athletes. You will wait in line at some point to go 1 or 2.
Once you take care of business, unpack your transition area. Keep it tidy as space is usually limited. Don’t camp out and take up 5 spots. You want everything laid out to make it as easy as possible to get your bike or run gear on when you’re stressed in transition trying to hurry to the next leg of the race. Keep bike stuff together. Keep run stuff together. Lay out any nutrition or hydration you want to take in during transition. Lay out chafing supplies and sunscreen if you plan on using them also.
Mentally go through your race and make sure you have it all laid out and ready. Be at peace that you have it all ready. If you leave transition for a potty stop, visit with friends or family or whatever, take your swim gear with you and be prepared that if you get stuck outside of transition before race start.
This is a simple outline, and there may be some ideas missed. Feel free to comment to add or ask questions!