On Sunday I am racing at the Castle Howard Triathlon. I am doing the half iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile half-marathon run). Today I plan to start packing my kit for the race.
Triathlon is a sport that involves a lot of kit. I went back to my roots this year and did a couple of running races and it was refreshing to just turn up with my running shoes and Garmin! Each time I do a tri I think that I should really make a checklist of kit to pack, for next time. So here it is.
Before the race
- Muesli. I take my own cereal with me for breakfast just in case the hotel or B&B I’m staying in doesn’t have nice muesli.
- Tri suit. Perhaps obviously, I will be wearing this for the duration. I have a two-piece suit, comprising a Stirling Triathlon Club tri top and a pair of Trigirl shorts. I opted for the two-piece as I am nowhere near hardcore enough to pee while on the bike, and I like to have the option to nip behind a tree mid-race! I wear a soft, crop-top type sports bra underneath (also Trigirl).
- Trackies and hoodie to slip on over my tri suit. It is also a good idea to take a big woolly hat and a down jacket, as triathlons tend to start early in the morning and it’s always colder than I expect it to be.
- Race licence. If you forget this, or don’t have one, you will need to pay a small fee for a day licence. You also won’t be eligible for ranking points or British Triathlon podium spots (not that this is a consideration for me!).
- Electrical tape to apply to my helmet and bike underneath my race number stickers (tends to be easier to get off than stickers!).
- A print out of the information – for instance, the directions to registration and a map of the bike route to study.
- A drink and a snack. I’ll probably nibble half a Clif bar before getting in the water.
- Track pump and multitool/allen keys, for last minute bike adjustments.
- Bag to put it all in! I have a Huub transition bag, and I love it. It’s also very handy for weekends away!
- Wetsuit. Mine is a Speedo wetsuit that I bought second-hand from a fellow club member.
- Goggles. I like Zoggs Predator Flex goggles. Bonus: they are Stirling Tri colours!
- Baby oil. For applying liberally to my arms and legs, for quick wetsuit removal (my wetsuit is pretty snug-fitting. I tried Body Glide and it just didn’t cut it).
- Swim hat. You get given one, but they tend to be made of thin material and I like to wear a nice silicone one underneath for comfort and a bit of extra warmth.
- Arm warmers. After spending about 6 minutes faffing in T1 at Aberfeldy last year trying to get them on, I’ve taken to swimming in them. I put them on, then fold them up over my upper arms and put the wetsuit over the top. Then when I get to T1 all I need to do is fold them down. Warning: my first pair of arm warmers were white. After a couple of open-water swims, they aren’t white any more…).
- Garmin. I have a 910XT. I mostly use this expensive, high-tech piece of kit to play silly games with my friends.
- Talc, for putting inside my rolled-up socks.
- A towel, for standing on (and as a handy surface to lay out my bike and run kit).
- Some jelly babies or Shot Bloks.
- A spare bottle of sports drink to gulp during transition (I use Science in Sport Go Electrolyte).
- Bike (obviously!). You can do a triathlon on any kind of bike. I did my first season on a cyclocross bike (with road tyres on). I now ride a Planet X RT 57 road bike. I am currently experimenting with tri bars but am not yet entirely comfortable with them.
- Helmet. You will not be allowed to race without one, and you must put your helmet on before you so much as touch your bike in T1.
- Cycling shoes.
- Socks (rolled up with talc in, inside shoes, on towel!)
- Extra layers. I plan to take my club cycling jersey, which has a full-length zip so can easily be slipped on over my wet tri suit. I can then put it on in T1 if I need an extra layer.
- Gloves. I could save myself a few seconds by not bothering, but they do make the ride more comfortable, and I have two half-healed blisters on my hand at the moment after some ill-advised log splitting at the weekend!
- Sunglasses, with dark or clear lenses depending on the weather. These are useful for stopping your eyes streaming on long descents, as well as protecting them from flies, grit, etc.
- Bottles of sports drink, on bike. Sometimes I just take one bottle. For Castle Howard I’m going to take both – it’s a long ride, and I want my own sports drink that I’ve trained with.
- Top tube bag, with nutrition in. I will probably take a Clif bar, a Honey Stingers waffle or two and some jelly babies or Shot Bloks.
- Saddle bag with spare inner tube, tyre levers, CO2 pump and a gas canister. For shorter races (particularly ones with several laps of a short course, so not far to walk back) I don’t always bother – I figure that if I get a puncture, I’m out of the race.
- Race belt with number attached. This goes on your back during the bike and you swivel it round onto your front for the run. If you don’t have one just pin the number to your back and leave it there.
- Running shoes. Elastic laces are handy and quick. Castle Howard has a largely off-road run so I will be taking a pair of trail shoes.
- Water bottle – I may not bother with this, and just take water from the water stations on the route instead.
- Jelly babies or Shot Bloks (I will stuff a few in the pocket of my tri suit in T2).
After the race
- A towel (to get changed under if need be, or for a shower if your race provides these facilities, in which case also shampoo/shower gel!).
- Warm, dry clothes. I completely forgot to take a change of clothes to my last triathlon, and ended up going home in my race t-shirt, hoodie and trackies (nope, no underwear. From the conversation in the changing room, I was not the only one!).
- Recovery drink (I have a shaker bottle with SIS Rego, but millk – especially chocolate milk – is easy to buy post-race and is good for recovery).
- A big bag to put all your wet, manky kit in. IKEA bags are good for this!
- Food, once you’ve recovered enough for your stomach to handle it.
That’s everything I can think of just now. I may well come back and edit this if I think of more things to add. Feel free to comment with any other suggestions!