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Triathlon Transitions: Design Your Personal Space

Design Your Personal Space

Put some thought into your transition

Mark Your Territory

Your little plot of real estate within the greater transition area is sacred ground.    This includes your section on the bike rack and a little bit of ground next to the bike tire.   If all athletes respect each other’s borders, peace and harmony will abound.    Disrespect these boundaries and you might witness an exchange of heated words or worse.  Chicago Triathlon 2009:  she moved her stuff into his area and they almost came to blows.  (And that fight would have been hard to call!)

A clean and well organized transition area will help you get in and out as fast as possible.  Don’t be messy with your triathlon transitions.


There is only one thing you need to mark your space: a mat.  Most

Personal transition space

Transition spaces can be marked with s simple towel

Transition space

A crate or box can be handy to hold your gear and mark your space.

people use an old towel.  A small towel is all you need.   Others use crates or buckets or some combination of towels and buckets.  If you want to get fancy, you can buy a special mat made just for triathlon transitions.  It’s not necessary to buy a special mat, but the neoprene types are handy because they don’t scrunch up like a towel and they dry quickly.

The neoprene mats are durable and dry quickly

They make great gifts too.

By placing the mat on the ground next to your bike, you establish property lines.  Within those lines, you can do pretty much anything you want.

Keep It Clean

Transition is a dead spot.  It’s where most people slow down, because they are gathering their thoughts, putting shoes, drying off.  I even know people who have fallen asleep in transition on longer races!

If speed is your goal, the transition area should be a speed boost.  Every thought and action should be well rehearsed and planned out so you get in and out as fast as possible.  One minor thing that helps with this goal is to keep the area around your bike as clean as possible.  DO NOT CLUTTER THE AREA WITH THINGS YOU WON’T USE.

keep the mat tidy

Only the absolute essentials should be placed on the transition mat.

As you walk around the transition area, take a look at other personal spaces.  See what others are using to hold their gear and how much junk they put on the mat or in their box.

Transition spaces

Buckets work well for carrying your gear and if necessary sitting down to put on shoes.

Messy transition space

Whatever you use to mark your space, just keep it clean and tidy.

Whatever system they use may work for them, but the fastest way to find your gear when you are in a hurry is to have the least number of choices and decisions.  A clean and tidy area will help with that.

The Bare Maximum

Don’t put any more than this on your mat unless you like clutter:

  1. Run Shoes

  2. Number belt

Bike shoes (if you use them) and helmets should go on the bike if you’re advanced, otherwise they can go on the mat.  If you wear socks, put them in the shoes with the ankles rolled down.

Put A Little Thought Into Your Transition

With a little foresight and practice, your transitions will be lightning fast.  The main point here is to train yourself to not slow down.  Do whatever you have to do to get through T1 and T2 as fast as you can while being considerate of the other athletes around you.

See you at the races.

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