Three triathletes learn how to use new watches at the start line

Swim for Fun | Ride with Patience | Run with Courage

Tulsa Area Triathletes wants everyone to have a successful race. Here is a collection of advice from our members to make your first or 500th race a success!


  • Set a goal - sign up for a race and find a training plan. Maybe try one of ours.
  • Take every shoe, bike or gear recommendation with a grain of salt. Every athlete has “the perfect shoe” or “the only nutrition necessary”. While it’s best for them, it may not be right for you.
  • Join a local club and attend training and social events. Ask questions.
  • Recruit a friend to train with you.
  • Follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram groups for clubs in your area or associated with events.
  • Practice your transitions. Practice putting socks on wet feet. Practice getting on and off your bike while moving.
  • Never try anything new on race day. Always train with new items before a race.
  • Understanding your hydration and nutrition needs may be the most important element of training, especially for longer distances. Nutrition needs depend on many factors but 100 to 200 calories per hour is good for most people.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new (even unusual) food during your training. Don’t try anything new during the race. Everyone is different. Something you eat every day normally may not sit well during a run. Something you have never had before may give you the energy necessary for a personal record.
  • A good (reasonably sized) breakfast before your training or race is important.

Race Prep

  • Pick up your packet before race day and review any maps or updated instructions.
  • For USAT sanctioned races you must pick up your own packet and show a state approved photo ID along with proof of USAT membership.
  • Some races do not allow race-day pickup. Be sure you have a plan.
  • Study the course – it is your responsibility to know and follow the course. Don’t blindly follow other racers.
  • Drive the course before the race if you can’t train on it.
  • Create a checklist of supplies you need before, during and after the race. Walk through race day in your mind and make note of supplies you will need. Here is an online list used by some of our TAT members .
  • Know the start times for your event. You don’t want your first leg of the race to be getting to the start line.

Extra Race Prep - Like military level prepared for race day

  • Some races allow you to pre-mark your body to save time at the race start. Check with the director if it is allowed and if they follow the standard practice.
    • All events in the TAT Race Series allow pre-body marking if you follow these instructions:
    • Outside of LEFT arm with your race number.
    • RIGHT calf with your age as of 12/31 this year. Team members use a “T” instead of age.
    • Have someone else do this so it is clear and easy to read. Markings must be in black Sharpie so they are waterproof.
  • Have a parking plan. Review the course maps and find a nearby place to park. Keep in mind that some streets may be closed due to the event. Some streets may be open early but then closed until the event is over and you could be blocked in. Choose wisely.
  • Many multisport events are in state parks. Investigate camping options and enjoy the outdoors all weekend.
  • There will be hydration and food after the race near the finish line. If you want something special or familiar after the race pack a small cooler or bring an extra drink to the transition area.
  • Make sure you have everything you need with you in the transition area. Spectators are not allowed to provide any supplies, gear or nutrition during the race.
  • Bring an extra pair of swim goggles incase a strap breaks or someone else forgot theirs.
  • Bring a roll of toilet paper.
  • Get extra rest the night before the night before the race. You won’t sleep much no matter what the night before the race.

Race Day

  • You may ride your bike to/from the transition area but you must have your helmet on and strapped (or face potential disqualification).
  • Be sure you are parked in an approved location according to maps or volunteer instructions. If not you risk getting towed since the course needs to be clear for everyone’s safety.
  • Before you enter the transition area pickup your race packet and timing chip. You will need your race number to enter the transition area.
  • Get your body marked – race number on left arm, age on your right calf.
  • Remember to smile and have fun – especially if there is a camera around.

Transition Area Setup

  • Only participants are allowed in the transition area.
  • Transition marshals will perform a safety check – brakes functioning, approved helmet, bar end plugs in place, and race numbers.
  • Pick an open location for your bike. In some races the slots are numbered, in some the rows are ranges of numbers, in others it’s open on a first-come basis.
  • Minimize your space used by following this tips
    • Hang your bike by the seat – not by the handle bars. Put your back wheel under the rail first and then lift the seat over the rail.
    • Bikes should alternate directions and participants should place their gear next to the front wheel of their bike.
    • Place your gear on your bike’s left side (right of bike as you are looking at it).
    • Stack your gear in the order you will put it on – shorts/shirt on top, sunglasses, helmet, socks, shoes, etc.
  • Put your race numbers where they belong.
    • Bike number sticker folds over top bar of bike or around seat post.
    • Small sticker (if provided) goes on the front of your helmet.
    • Bib is required for the run and must be worn in the front. A bib belt speeds up your bike/run transition.
  • Downshift your bike to a low gear.
  • The transition area closes a few minutes before the race starts. All participants must clear the transition area and attend the pre-race meeting for important announcements and instructions. The Race Director or Transition Marshal will announce when the area is closing.
  • Before you leave your bike make sure you have your swim googles!
  • As you leave the transition area notice where the bike exit and run exits are. That’s where you will need to be soon.
  • Know how to find your bike. Stand by the swim entrance of the transition area and locate your bike. The transition area will look different after your swim with fewer bicycles (unless you are first out of the water).
  • The Race Director or Transition Marshalls will announce when the transition area is open for you to collect your bike and gear. Generally this is after the last racer has finished the bicycle course.
  • After the race, Transition Marshals will check your bib and bike numbers to make sure you have the right bike.
Best use of space with transition area setup


Snake Swim

  • A Snake Swim is performed in a pool. With a Snake Swim participants start one at a time with a few seconds in between swimmers. You swim to the far end of the pool and then back & forth until you reach the end of the course. You will switch lanes either each length or each lap depending on the pool setup. Read the course map to know when you are supposed to switch lanes.
  • Participants will report their expected swim time on the signup form. Be careful to notice if the form asks for yards or meter swim time.
  • Participants will be ordered based on swim time (fastest first) to minimize the need for passing. It’s important to be accurate on the signup form.
  • If you need to pass a swimmer, tap their foot and swim quickly on the left. Watch out for oncoming swimmers in the same lane – someone may be passing in that direction too.
  • Let people close behind you pass at the turns.
Sample Snake Swim course

Open Water Swim

  • Open Water swims are a mass-start where groups of participants start at the same time.
  • Know which start wave you are in and gather with that group. Sometimes this is designated by swim cap color.
  • The Race Director or Start Official will tell you where to line up for the start. It may be on a beach or dock, or may be in the water. Some events require you to swim a short distance to the start area.
  • It’s important to know the swim course and understand what the colored markers mean. There may be other racers going different distances that are generally marked by different colors.
  • If you are uncomfortable with the mass start you can wait a few seconds in the back for the crowd to clear out or start to the outside away from the larger crowd. A few seconds or slightly longer distance can offset the anxiety of bumping into others.
Open water swimmers starting at the Tulsa Triathlon


  • You must walk your bike out of the transition area. There will be a “mount” line defined outside the transition area. You cannot mount your bike before you cross this line.
  • Your helmet must be on and securely strapped before you mount your bike.
  • Course Marshalls will be providing (yelling) these and other instructions. Listen.
  • Most bike courses are on open roads. You must watch for vehicle traffic and obey all traffic laws.
  • Police may direct you through stop lights or stop signs. If not you must stop and obey all laws.
  • No drafting in Triathlons. You must provide three bicycle lengths between you and the bike in front of you.
  • If you are passed, you must yield to the passing bicycle and provide a three bicycle lengths gap between the two of you.
  • Always pass on the left. When passing announce “on your left”.
  • Watch carefully for all traffic when passing. Ensure there is not a vehicle behind you.
  • Watch for spectators on the bike course and announce you are approaching.
  • Some races provide on-course mechanical support, but not all. Know what is provided by your race. Be prepared with extra tubes, CO2 cartridges or pump and necessary tools.
  • Some races will have aid-stations on the course, but not all. Take plenty of fluids with you and any food or nutrition you need for the bicycle portion.
  • No Littering. If you take food or nutrition packets have a plan and secure location to store the trash until you reach an aid station or return to the transition area. Littering includes clothing, water bottles or other gear.
  • Many events have multiple distances happening at the same time. Know your distance your course. Don’t follow other cyclists.
  • Take your helmet off before you leave the transition area to start your run.
Racer attempts to put on socks with wet feet at the 2016 Tulsa Triathlon


  • Know the run course. Know what you are looking for as you approach the finish line.
  • Many events have multiple distances happening at the same time. Know your distance and your course. Don’t follow other runners.
  • Many run courses are on open roads or shared with the bike course. Be aware of all traffic.
  • Run on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic if running on open roads.
  • No Littering. If you take food or nutrition packets have a plan and secure location to store the trash until you reach an aid station or the finish line. Littering includes clothing, water bottles or other gear.
  • Hold your hands up high and smile really big for the finish line picture.
Runners race to the top of a hill at the 2016 Tulsa Triathlon

Team Members

  • For team events the members will have a designated exchange location where you will hand off the timing chip or race number.
  • Follow the Race Director’s instructions for location and the gear you are allowed to have with you.


  • After you finish stay near the finish line and cheer in other racers.
  • The Race Director or Transition Marshalls will announce when the transition area is open for you to collect your bike and gear. Generally this is after the last racer has finished the bicycle course.
  • Some races will have food or sponsor booths near the finish line. This can be a good time to get food samples, try on new clothing or just explore products and services in your area. Many times these are locally owned companies that appreciate your business and have gone out of their way to support your sport.
  • You must wear and secure your helmet if you ride your bike back to your car.
  • Thank the volunteers and Race Director one last time.
Susan Martinac and Laura Bloxom put all of their effort into the Chris Brown Duathlon