Don’t Forget the Small Stuff! - Race Day Checklist

author : Michael
comments : 0

Downloadable race-day checklist for your triathlon preparation. Everything you need to bring from your bike to drinks.

 Race-Day Checklist

During my first tri season I spent a lot of time learning from the experiences of others. Some of those experiences were good others were bad but they all were good for my training education.


I usually arrive early at races to be able to relax and acclimate to the atmosphere. Arriving early also gives me the chance to watch how others prepare for the race.  At a race late in the tri season back when I first started doing tris, I, of course, arrived early to see a woman in obvious panic. She was complaining that she forgot the front wheel of her bike in her hotel room.  In the rush of getting race ready, she forgot that small, put important, piece of equipment. 



I am amazed we spend so much time and effort to train for a specific event or events, but give little or no thought to what we need for race day.  If we don’t pre-plan we set ourselves up for failure on race day.


Over the last several years what has worked for me is creating a checklist. Although the checklist is burned into my mind, I still use a hard copy to ensure I have everything that I need.




Overnight Trips


  • Set-up Accommodations - Months ahead of time, set up accommodations if you’re spending the night. Lodging close to the race site will often have special rates. Don’t forget to verify your reservations. I usually do it two weeks before my arrival date.


  • Traveling to the Event – If you’re flying to an event don’t forget to take care of your bike. Are you going to pack it? Are you going to overnight it? These are questions you should answer before you buy your ticket! You can pick up a bike travel case. Make sure your bike is properly packed and be confident that you can put your bike back together and do any minor tuning needed. If you’re not a bike guru, contact the race director and ask for the resident bike shop. You can arrange to send your bike to the shop, have them assemble it. Remember you also need to get your bike to the race site. Make sure you arrange for transporting your bike to and fro.



  • Accessories On the Go – It’s not just enough to pack clean underwear, tri suit and running shoes. Triathlons are heavy gadget sports. So when you travel make sure that you have all the accessories you need to go with each discipline as well as for the entire race event. One week before I am scheduled to depart, I go through my checklist and determine if there is anything that I don’t have that needs to be purchased.  Things like tubes, tires, gels, sunscreen, anti-fog solution and the list goes on.  By doing this in advance, you can alleviate the last minute panic of rushing around and trying to find an item the day before you leave.


At the Event

  • Night before the Race: The night before the race when I am in my hotel room, I place a towel on the floor and lie out my transition and walk though my race morning routine. I walk through everything that I’m going to do during the race — every piece of equipment I will use, food I will eat, gadget I need, equipment I carry — and lay it out so that I will not be looking for it the next morning.  Anything that needs packing gets packed. If it is needs to be at the race with me gets placed next to the door with my bike.


Different races will require more or less of the checklist. As you become a more experienced triathlete the hard copy of list may unnecessary. Adapt the list for yourself and make it work for you. 


To some, it might be over-planning, but for the poor soul standing in the middle of the transition area before a race shouting,  “Does anybody have an extra pair of goggles?” it’s well worth that extra bit of effort.  It is commonly heard in the sports world that the best offense is a good defense.  Take the time to prepare for race day and you won’t regret it!



The following is the checklist I run through the night before I leave for an event:


Download it for printing HERE.





[ ] Swimsuit/Wetsuit/Tri Shorts


[ ] Goggles clear or dark lenses/anti-fog solution


[ ] Lubricant if you are using a wetsuit (Be sure that the lube you choose is safe to use with your suit.)


[ ] Towel





[ ] Bike


[ ] Make sure that bike is working properly


[ ] Bike shoes


[ ] Helmet


[ ] Wheels and tires - be sure spokes are ok and you are running correct tire pressure


[ ] Water bottles w/ preferred drink


[ ] Energy source - either gel packs or flask


[ ] Sunglasses


[ ] Spare tube and CO2 cartridge





[ ] Race shoes with some type of speed laces, if you prefer.


[ ] Cap or Visor - and don’t bring a black one


[ ] Race number pins or race belts


[ ] Drinks or gels for the run





[ ] Extra Gels


[ ] Sunscreen


[ ] Extra water bottle


[ ] A way to mark your place in the transition area








[ ] Jacket - weather could change unexpectedly


[ ] Energy bar(s)


[ ] Safety pins if you loose yours for race number


[ ] Sandals


[ ] Clothing to change into after you finish your race



Before race day:


[ ] Warm-up bottoms and top


[ ] Hat


[ ] Electrical tape to mark bike etc. and duct tape - great for emergency repairs


[ ] Passport (ID), Drivers License, credit card, cash


[ ] Plane Ticket if you have to fly


[ ] USAT membership card


[ ] Relaxing Reading or magazine for the plane ride or if you are riding with others.  I also like to carry an MP3 player or a CD player with me to listen to music before the race.

 Copyright  When Big Boys Tri  2004


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date: September 2, 2004


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