Welcome to the beginners Guide to Triathlon!

As you are looking at this page, you obviously fancy having a go at multi sport.

Hopefully, this guide will answer most of your questions but if not, there are quite a few NRR Tri-athletes of varied abilities who would love to chat with you and give you a real insight into what these events are all about.

There are a number of multi sport events with distances to suit all levels of ability.

Aquathon: Swim followed by a run

Duathlon: Run, Bike, Run.

Triathlon: Swim, Bike, Run

Quadrathlon: Swim, Bike, Kayak, Run

Don’t forget that you don’t have to do these events as an individual. You can enter as a relay team. This is a great way to ease your way into Triathlon and the experience you get from being part of a team is fantastic.

Triathlon distances (appox)

Sprint  -     750m Swim/20km Bike/5km Run

Olympic -  1.5km Swim/40km Bike/10km Run

Half Ironman – 1.9km Swim/90km Bike/21km Run

Ironman – 3.8km SWim/180km Bike/42km Run



You will be give a start time based on your estimated swim time. This means that the slowest competitors go first and the elite competitors go last. You will be given your race number and a marker pen so that you can write your number on your arm and opposite leg.Transition Area
This is the 4th discipline in Triathlon and getting this right can save you seconds or even minutes off of your total race time. You will leave your shorts, t-shirt, shoes here with your bike. However, if you prefer, you can change in the Changing Room but this will cost you time. It is worth practicing your transitions before the event.

The Race Starts Here!

The Swim Leg
This may be in a pool or in open water (sea, river or lake). If it’s a pool swim, you can just wear a Tri-suit or trunks/swimwear but in open water events a wetsuit may be compulsory. The Crawl and Breaststroke are the most common strokes but others are allowed, but not backstroke or butterfly.

Transition 1 (T1)
This is where you come from the swim to go out on your bike.
If you are not wearing a Tri-suit, you will need to change from your swimwear into cycling shorts and a T-shirt or running/cycling top. Remember! Before you touch your bike you must put your helmet on and do it up. This is a rule of British Triathlon.

The Bike Leg
You must not mount your bike in the Transition Area. You are allowed to run with it to the mounting point where a marshal will tell you to mount. At the entrance to or the exit from the Transition Area, you will have to shout your race number to the timekeepers. Your Transition times may be timed as part of the previous leg, the following leg or timed on it’s own. When you are nearing the end of the bike course, get into a higher gear and spin for about half a mile to prepare your legs for running. You must dismount before you enter T2.

Transition 2 (T2)
This is where you come off of your bike to start the run. It is paramount that you rack your bike before you undo your helmet. This is a British Triathlon Rule.
Remove your gloves, change your shoes, spin your race number to the front and then pat your head to make sure that you have removed your helmet before you go running off. Again, you must shout your number to the timekeepers.

The Run
Now you’re on familiar territory but be careful for the first 100 metres whilst your legs get used to running.

It is advisable to drive around the bike course, and check out the run course, prior to the event so that you have an idea of where you are going.


One Final thing for Race Day:

Warm ups. Click Here to see warm up video

Race Day Checklist

  • Race Information Pack
  • Plastic storage box to keep your kit in
  • 2 Towels. One to stand on whilst changing. One to dry yourself with.
  • Swimsuit / Tri-suit
  • Goggles
  • Swimming Hat
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirt
  • Race Belt
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Glasses
  • Bike Shoes / Trainers
  • Socks – if using
  • Drink
  • Running Shoes
  • Warm Kit to change into afterwards
  • Large Bag to keep kit in
  • Plastic Bag for wet kit
  • Post Race Snack
  • Talc


The kit you will need

You don’t have to spend a fortune on specialist clothing. You can use whatever you already have, e.g. swimwear and a t-shirt & shorts if you wish but there are advantages in having the right kit.

Swim Cap
You will need to have a swimming hat but it may not be required in the pool unless the race organisers say so. It is however, a requirement in open water swims and if they are needed, they may be supplied but the organisers. In these circumstances, different coloured caps are used to identify which section of the race a competitor may be in. e.g. Relay, men’s or ladies etc. A swim cap can help you to go faster by lowering your resistance through the water.

Will help you to see where you are going and prevent your eyes from getting sore.

This is a fast drying, high tech, one piece, shorty, skin suit. A kind of modern day, Edwardian bathing suit. It’s an excellent piece of kit, which you can wear throughout the whole race and is fitted with a chamois padded gusset for added comfort whilst cycling. However self-conscious you may feel wearing a Tri-Suit, they are the tool for the job and will save you time and aid performance.

Cycle Shoes
You can wear your running shoes if you wish but proper cycling shoes that clip into the pedals are much better. Shoes with Velcro straps or elastic laces are essential for ease and speed. If socks are to be worn, they should be well dusted with talc so that they go on smoother.

Cycle Helmet
This is compulsory and must be put on before you even touch your bike or you will be given a time penalty or even disqualified. Your helmet must be approved and has to be inspected by the organisers before you can take part. No Helmet! No Race!

These are optional and some riders opt not to wear them because of the time they take to put on but in cold weather, this time advantage can be lost on the return to transition because your fingers are too cold to undo your helmet.

Race Belt
You can attach your race number to your race belt. This means that you can simply step into it and pull it up. Your number has to be displayed on the back for the cycle and on your front for the run. A race belt allows you to simply rotate the belt to bring the number to the front. Without a race belt you will have to pin numbers front and back and hope that you don’t need to put a jacket on part way through.

Vello Jacket
This is a nylon type jacket that screws up into a ball about the size of a tennis ball, which can be carried with you in case of rain.

Whilst cycling, you are likely to exceed 35mph in places, so it’s advisable to wear eye protection to protect your eyes from grit, flies and other debris. There are specific cycling glasses but sun glasses or prescription glasses will do the job.

Your Bike
This is an essential piece of Triathlon Equipment so it has to be in good working order and fully roadworthy. You don’t have to have a £5k super lightweight speed machine. You can use a £50 mountain bike if you wish. It’s up to you. As long as it passes inspection, you can use whatever you are most comfortable with.

There are not usually drinks stations on the bike course so it is advisable to take some fluid with you.

Puncture Repair Kit & Tools
If the unexpected happens, it’s worth being prepared. Remember! Never say the “P” word.