Congrats! You’ve decided to dive in and and become a triathlete. Now it’s time to sign up for you first race. We want you to have a great experience at you first race. You have put in the commitment and training, and now its time to show your greatness.
Here’s some tips to help you decide which race is best for you:
1. Race Distance – Sprint distance triathlons are usually best for first time triathletes. Typical distances for a sprint triathlon are ~500M Swim, 12 mile bike, and 5k run. The majority of people will finish this race around 90 minutes. Sprints are short enough to let it rip, if you are feeling great. If it’s not your day, you can cruise through the finish.
2. Race Location – Consider you logistics when choosing a race. Sometimes the effort to get to the race, can be as nerve racking as the event itself. Some things to consider here:
- How far do I have to travel? If you have a private helicopter, this is not an issue.
- Do I need to stay in a hotel? If the race has an early start, and you have a significant commute to get there, staying close to the race start will decrease race morning anxiety greatly.
- Is the race spectator friendly? Your friends and family have supported you through all of your training, and want to cheer you on during the race. Races that are held in parks or in downtown areas work well for families.
3. Swim (open water vs. pool) – If you are not yet comfortable swimming in open water, you may want to start with a pool swim. This is usually the largest concern for new triathletes, and justifiably so. In open water, most times you can’t see the bottom, there are many other swimmers around you, and swimming in a straight line isn’t easy. A pool swim will be staggered, so you are not in a a big crowd, and there is a black line at the bottom to follow.
If you are considering entering your first open water triathlon, here are some tips:
4. Bike/Run Course – Check the course info page for the race, and pay attention to the course profile. A short event can be made very difficult by elevation. Be sure you are comfortable with the climbs and descents, if the course is hilly. Bike handling skills take time to develop. If you are still working on your handling skills, save those technical sections, and screaming descents for later.
Run courses can vary in their terrain. Courses can be on pavement, trails, sand, the surface of the moon, you never know. Most of the time this is not a deal breaker on the decision to sign up for a race, but be prepared. I once didn’t check out a course in advance and it had 8 large sets of steps on it. I was not prepared, and that course crushed me.
5. Local Weather – I know we can’t control the weather, and it is unpredictable. This is one area where you can play to your strengths. If you can run all day like a camel in the heat, then sign up for a summer race. If you melt like a snowman above 80 Deg, then pick a fall race.
6. Race Organization – The quality of the race promoter will have a huge impact on the overall event. Race promoters vary in there experience and commitment to quality. Be sure to check into the race promoter before signing up for an event. Ask other athletes about the promoter’s events, they will be happy to share their experience, good or bad.
7. Post Race Party – This may sound like a silly thing to consider, but some races have great post race parties. If you are racing with friends, you want to celebrate after the race. A beer never tastes so good, as after a hard race. There are a few races I do every year, just because the party is so much fun.
What are you waiting for? Get on www.active.com and get signed up.
If you know of a great beginner friendly race, please leave the info in the comments.