Q: I get overwhelmed packing for a triathlon. What do I absolutely need for race day?
Amy Marsh answers
A: As athletes of three disciplines, we have a lot of gear to keep up with. But when it comes to race day, the key is to simplify. It may come as a surprise, but you don’t need to race with all the gadgets you use during training. Plus, the less you have to worry about the better!
You’re probably used to wearing a watch and heart rate monitor, and you may often look down at your bike computer to check your speed, cadence or wattage. Though I wouldn’t tell you to NOT use these tools during a race, I’m also not saying they’re necessities. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to race “blindly” or without so many numbers in your head. It forces you to fully tune into your body.
Numbers or not, you should perform based on how you feel in the moment. Of course, you have to first get to the start line. Here’s a checklist of must-haves for race day:
- 2 pairs of goggles — Trust me, it’s good to have back-up.
- Swim cap — These are provided by the race organizers.
- Wetsuit — I usually take mine in case the temperature changes on race morning.
- Towel — Use a towel to sit on or dry your feet during transition.
- Anti-chafing ointment
- Cycling shoes (unless you ride with basket pedals)
- 2 water bottles
- 1-2 spare tubes
- 1-2 CO2 cartridges
- 1 pair of socks — Some people wear socks during the bike, as well. Determine what works better for you.
- Running shoes — We prefer elastic laces to eliminate time spent untying and tying during T2.
- Race belt — You should attach your bib number to the race belt while setting up before the race. Bib numbers are usually required.
Transition Area & Post-Race Goodies
- Hex keys
- 2 tire levers
- Floor pump or frame pump
- Bike lube
- Electrical tape
- 2 spare tires (optional)
- 1 form of ID
- A small amount of cash or credit card for incidentals
- 1 bottle of electrolyte beverage
- 1 bottle of water
- Post-race fuel — You’ll need to resupply your energy stores for races over an hour.
- A change of clothes
Amy Marsh is a four time Ironman champion, two time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.