Transition Area Tips

On Saturday I ran a 15k race and afterwards was speaking to a friend who mentioned that she would be doing her first sprint tri in March.  After smiling with pride she quickly said to me:  "I am going to need some advice from you on setting up my transition area.  The race director last year said that he would take stuff out of transition if it were too crowded and I'm nervous."  I am paraphrasing there because I can't remember everything she said but I immediately knew she needed some transition area tips.  Ideas on how to keep a transition area clean and neat so as not to impinge on other athlete's equipment but obviously to make it easier to get in and out of. In 2012 Karen did her first triathlon and she too asked me if I had any transition area tips.  Instead of giving them to her I just went and setup her mat for her.  Her friend then came by and asked for help as well.  After the conversation this weekend I realized that not everybody understands the hows and the why of setting up a transition area and would need some help. These transition area tips are directly from how I setup my mat and others may do it differently but other than the fiasco that was Ironman Arizona I manage to get in and out of transition very fast.  Also, let it be known that for distances shorter than half-ironman I am not wearing socks on the bike or the run so take that into account as well.  Lastly, in these transition area tips you will not see a comment regarding clipping your bike shoes in before the race because I don't do flying mounts (I like my stuff where it is) and so if you are going to do flying mounts then skip the cycling shoes part.

Transition Area Tips


  • Be cognizant of the space that you have and only work in that space.  Do not bring stools or chairs or coolers into your transition area.  It is not needed and just takes up valuable space.  Keep your gear to a minimum and work with what the course supplies if you can.
  • Look for the Swim In/Bike Out/Bike In/Run Out signs.
  • Know what row your bike is in so when you get out of the water you don't waste time running around looking for your bike.

[caption id="attachment_7077" align="alignright" width="194"]transition area tips - triathlon - ironman Source: Empty Age[/caption]

T1 Setup (From Swim To Bike)

  • On your bike handlebars have your helmet with the front facing your body (upside down) so that when you grab it is just a flip and it is on your head in the right direction.  Inside of your helmet though put your race belt with big and on top of that your sunglasses.  This will set you up to put your sunglasses on first then your race belt then your helmet.  Now you move to Tip #3.
  • Have your shoes facing away with the straps opened up (top strap only if you have tri shoes) from you so all you have to do is slip your feet in and then close the strap down.
  • Grab your bike and head to the Bike Out but don't get on your bike until you are at the mount line.

T2 Setup (From Bike To Swim)

  • Have your running shoes pointing in the same direction of the cycling shoes which is away from you so that you can slip your feet in.
  • Have hat or visor on top of shoes so you remember to put it on and it will also help you to remember to take off your bike helmet since you can't fit a baseball hat over the top of a bike helmet.
  • If you are taking a handheld on the course have it next to your shoes so you can pick up as you begin to exit transition.
  • Flip your race belt around as you are running toward the run out area.
  • If it is hot out then keep your handheld in a small foam cooler in ice toward the back of your mat.  This will help you on the run since the water will be cold and the cooler is small and out-of-the-way.

Do You Have Any Transition Area Tips To Share?

TAGS: transition , bike , race , help , tips , helmet , area , shoes
Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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