How to Get Transitions Right in Triathlon Races: 7 Useful Tips


Triathlon finishes can be quite close, and 2017 saw a few. In the International Triathlon Union’s World Triathlon Season, the men’s closest finish was a mere 2 seconds between Vincent Luis (FRA) and Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) in WTS Rotterdam. The men’s largest finish in the WTS Stockholm was 18 seconds by Jonathan Brownlee (GBR).

If you think it’s all about speed, think again. Precious seconds in a triathlon can be saved in a transition! Here’s how you can do it too:

  1. Know Where You Are in Transition

Before the day of the race, visit the transition area and make a note of where your bike will be racked. Go over it a few times until you understand it. Look around and try to find a landmark to know where your bike is, so you don’t waste precious seconds looking for it on the day of the race.

  1. Carry Only What You Need

Carry only the essentials for the race:

  • Swim: Wetsuit, goggles, swimming cap
  • Bike: Helmet, glasses, cycling shoes
  • Run: Running shoes, a cap/visor and race number belt
  1. Arrange Your Gear in Event Order

Lay out your gear exactly in the same way you’re going to need it as you transitioning.


Swim to Bike Transition

  • Leave your sunglasses on your handlebar of your bike, so you can easily grab and put them on while you remove your wetsuit.
  • Place your helmet upside down on your handle bar and put that on as you’re taking off your wetsuit.
  • Fix your cycling shoes to the frame of the bike with rubber bands (Once you start pedaling, they’ll snap.)


Bike to Run Transition

  • Put your bike in and place your bike gear on the ground behind your running gear.
  • Only have your shoes, cap and race band for this part.
  1. Practice Transitions

Mastering the art of transitions cannot be done without practice. Break the transition into steps and learn what exactly you’re supposed to do at each stage.

Transition 1: Swim to Bike

Swim Exit

Start thinking of your exit as you get to the last few minutes of your swim. Your speed will slow down if you stop swimming and start running too early, so always stroke till your hands touch the bottom of the shore, and then make a dash for it.

As you get out of the water, put your goggles on your head and start peeling off your wetsuit. Aim to have it till your waist by the time you reach T1.

Mounting the Bike

If you have your gear in place, then you’ve already got a head start. Remember the transition area will be full of other triathletes, so it may not be a good idea to hop on to your bike as soon as you’re ready. Maneuver through them, get into a relatively freer area and then hop on.

Transition 2: Bike to Run

Getting Close to T2

As before, start mentally preparing to make the next transition. The most important thing is to get to your transition spot quickly by relying on the landmarks you made a mental note of during your visit. Start sliding out of your shoes (don’t look down!) and pedal barefoot.

Getting Off Your Bike

As you finish the biking leg, volunteers will tell you exactly where to get off. Make sure not to unbuckle your helmet until your bike is racked, or else you’ll have to pay a penalty. Rack your bike and put on your running shoes. That’s essentially the most important piece of gear you need. Grab your cap and race number, but put them on only once you exit the T2 area.

  1. Set Aside a Gear Bag
    • Get a good gear bag and carry your gear in it. Don’t put it into three separate bags – keep it all in one place so you can unpack quicker in the transition area. There are some very specific triathlon transition bags available for this purpose.
  2. Prepare Your Bike and Other Essentials
    • Sounds very simple, but you got to make sure your bike is ready to go before the race. What does that mean? Pump up your tires to the right PSI, display your bike number, and load it with the nutrition and fluids you need for the race. Don’t end up rummaging through your bag for water bottles or bars during transition.
  3. Get to the Transition Area Early
    • As they say, the early bird gets the worm. And so it is with triathlon transitions. Come to the transition area well before the race, so you can get a good transition spot. You can also arrange your belongings in race order. If you don’t do this, you may be left with a cramped area.

At JustWetsuits, we want you to be transition ready on your big day! Remember that preparation and practice is the key to a successful transition. Also, make sure you’ve got your gear in order. We stock the best triathlon wetsuits and accessories for a smooth transition. Check out our website for more.

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