Piercy’s Triathlon Packing/To Do List

Just a few odds and ends from the past few years of racing. This is not distance-specific, but rather a general list of items to consider before any tri… 

Pre-Race (night before/morning of):

• Pick up race packet the day before the race if at all possible. It complicates your race day somewhat if you have to pick up your race packet that morning – more to think about, less time to sleep, etc. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS theory). 

• Organize your equipment – go through your packing/to do list to ensure all equipment is accounted for. Also, know the route to the race site – plug the address into your GPS. Make sure you alarm is set. Organization, organization, organization!

• Have a good dinner, drink a beer and get good sleep. (seriously, drink a beer – you will sleep better).

• Have breakfast at least an hour & ½ before race. Peanut butter & English muffin with banana and coffee works well. Oatmeal also works. Don’t overdo the coffee.

• Arrive at the race site one hour prior to swim start. You may not need quite this much time on subsequent races, but on your first one, give yourself plenty of time.

• Set up your bike and other equipment in transition and then go pick up race chip and get body marked. Take your race bib with you as they will need to see it before giving you your chip and body marking you.

• Return to transition, attach chip to chip strap and place on left ankle. Return bib (which should be attached to your race belt) to the bike saddle (see T1 below)

• Place flip-flops/shoes in transition bag – you will go barefoot to swim start. Make sure you have your goggles and swim cap (and wet suit if applicable) prior to exiting transition. (if you have lost your swim cap, don’t panic – find a race official and they will get you another one).

• By this time, you should only have ten minutes or so before swim start. Stretch, meditate, pray, last minute toilet visit (whatever you feel like doing, basically) and get in “the zone”. Put your game face on!

• For your first race, it may be tempting to line up in back of your age group in the water. It may be better to be closer to the front. Let faster swimmers worry about passing you rather than you having to worry about passing slower swimmers. It is less work for you this way.

• In the final couple of minutes before the starting gun, your age group will enter the water and wait there. Take this time to breath deep, get comfortable with the water and focus on your swim technique. Don’t worry about the other swimmers. You will get knocked around a little bit – it is inevitable. If you have ever played football or any other contact sport, you may actually relax a little once you take an elbow – you realize it’s no big deal – that the anticipation of getting elbowed is worse than actually getting elbowed. Focus on long, gliding strokes. Think about T1.


• Wetsuit (determine if race is wetsuit-legal) 

 Tri shorts • Glide (for neck/under arms if wearing wet suit)

• Goggles (pack extra pair – one pair should be shaded)

• Swim cap (will be in race packet)

• Timing chip strap (this may be available at race site)

• Flip-flops

 • Small towel

 • Sun screen

T1: Before race:

• Set up bike at corral

• Pump tires (do this at your car to avoid brining pump to T1)

• Unzip transition bag and lay flat beside bike (leave room for your neighbor)

• Lay towel under bike

• Place bike shoes, running shoes/socks on towel

• Place bike helmet on aero bars facing bottom up

• Place sunglasses, GPS watch, heart rate monitor, sweat gutter and one gel inside helmet

• Place race bib on race belt and hang race belt on saddle

• Secure water/Gatorade bottle(s) to bike

• Get wetsuit, swim cap, goggles, timing chip strap before leaving for swim start – leave flip flops behind in transition bag for after race

After swim (T1):

• Immediately after exiting water, pull wetsuit down to waist – after finding your bike at T1, strip wetsuit completely off, place in transition bag. Some triathlons will have “wet-suit strippers” (which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds) who will help you strip the wetsuit the rest of the way off. This will be an embarrassing juncture if you forgot to wear tri/bike shorts underneath the wetsuit.

• Quickly wipe off feet with small towel, put on socks/shoes (or just shoes if you prefer) • Put on GPS watch, jersey, race belt, sunglasses, sweat gutter, helmet

• Take gel

• Reapply sunscreen if needed


• Bike shoes/socks • Bike shorts (for longer races – otherwise, wear tri shorts)

• Chamois cream (apply to bike shorts before race)

• Sunglasses

• Helmet

• Sweat gutter

• Jersey

• Gels (# depends on length of race – tape to bike frame or carry in jersey)

• GPS (reset and turn on before swim – this will save you time in T1)

• Race bib (should be attached to race belt – number should be on your back)

• Water/Gatorade bottles (one for sprint, two+ for Olympic and longer)

• Bike pump

• Spare tubes, tire levers, CO2 cartridges (you should have these in your tool bag attached to bike at all times)


• Dock bike

• Change shoes

• Rotate race belt so that race bib faces front

• Take off helmet/sweat gutter and put on hat

• Reset GPS from bike to run


• Running shoes/socks

• Hat

• Sunglasses

• Gels (there may be gels on the race course aid stations as well, but better to carry your own – never experiment on race day!)

• Race bib – turn race belt so that number is on your front for run

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