Lost in Transition: The Do’s and Don’ts

There’s always chaos in the transition area.  The moment a transition area opens for triathletes on race day, the average age grouper always seemed to be in a confused state.  While the Pros always graciously move in a swift motion, the rest of the athletes always have questions in their head.

Am I putting on too much sunscreen?

Did I overinflate/under inflate my tires?

How is the transition flow?

There’s always double checking, pacing back and forth, trying to stay calm and hold off the nerves, or attempting to delay the intense rush of racing.

There are written rules in the transition area, and the ITU competition rules are commonly followed in most races. And then there are unwritten laws which are more tuned to avoid trouble with fellow triathletes.


  • Do wear and secure the buckle of your helmet before touching your bike to unrack. This is one of the transition officials’ pet-peeve, seeing triathletes moving their bike along the transition, with their helmet unbuckled, sometimes worst, they carry their helmet and wear it before mounting their bike.
  • Bring your own Pump. Relying on the officials or the guy next to you for one means you have to wait for your turn. Be self-sufficient.  And don’t lend your pump before you had your tires inflated, it might never come back to you in time.
  • Keep your transition gear orderly. Bike shoes, glasses, helmet, bib, nutrition, and other bike equipment can be placed on the bike; Shoes, socks, visors and other run gear can be place in your bin or near your bin, and make sure nobody is going to trip when they pass through your space. Used equipment must be placed in the bin, and not look like a scene from a teenager’s bedroom.
  • Be aware of other intense, over-eager athletes. Age-group triathletes out for podium glory or trying to break their PR will mow down any obstacle that gets in their way.  You may even be shouted upon if you move your bike casually, like walking in a park.  Give enough space for other athletes to pass through.
  • Bring a spare set of goggles. How many times have we seen the guy roaming around transition asking for a spare set of goggles.  The rubber strap usually breaks in the long run.  Keep your sanity, or save someone from disappointment, it is smart to bring extra.
  • Arrive early in transition. Avoid the crowd and run down your own checklist in your own pace. Arriving late close to when transition close means you have to rush and have the transition manager shouting at your face..last five minutes and we are close!
  • Make a pre-race visual cue of the transition flow. Read your athlete guide, or study the maps provided by organizers.  If you are still confused by the flow, ask the transition marshalls beforehand.  In bigger races, organizers schedule a transition flow walk through during bike-check-ins.  Also, try to spot your space by placing visual markers, like tying a small balloon on your rack.  Depending on the race, this maybe disallowed, so it is always better to ask.  It’s rude to shout at officials when beforehand you did not do your homework by not knowing the transition flow.
See also:  Ironman Transition Tips


  • Do not unbuckle your helmet right after dismounting your bike. In ITU rules, you can only touch your helmet to unbuckle and remove it right after racking your bike in T2.
  • Don’t move other bike and equipment without their permission. They went in the transition area ahead of you to keep their things and schedule organized.  If you need some space in case they impede yours, ask nicely.
  • Don’t bully your way into the flow without regard for others. If you are trying to save time on the transition area, be polite when trying to pass other athletes.  Better, get the speed you want on the course.

  • Don’t bring the whole kitchen sink like you are checking in a hotel. You are racing for a triathlon, and it is supposed to be uncomfortable.  ITU rules state that only equipment to be used in competition are the only things that must be placed in the transition area. Bucket for rinsing your feet?  Folding chairs?  A big cooler and a crate? Really? It is a tight spot for everybody else.  Keep it simple.
  • Don’t lose your mind and keep it at the moment. A checklist of your equipment is always a smart routine.  And staying in the moment without the haste will save you more time.  How many times have we seen a triathlete in T2 running out of transition with his bike helmet still on?  Happens always…keep everything at your own practiced pace.
  • No new moves on race day. Trying to copy the flying dismount you saw on the biker ahead?  Trying to fit on the bike shoes already clipped on the pedals?  Avoid the accidents on raceday.  New moves are to be practiced beforehand.
See also:  Video: Ironman Malaysia 2017 - Race day Highlights



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