Home » Ranting » Triathlon Etiquette- Some Advice For a Happier Race!

Triathlon Etiquette- Some Advice For a Happier Race!

(Originally, I was going to title this post “Boys Are Mean” because in my experience, boys do not like women on “their” race course and many of the behaviors I listed below, I witness by males.  However, I can admit women are bitches too I have a decent male readership and did not want my virtual face ripped off.) 

Throughout this summer while racing, I have been observing some behaviors that I feel are both unnecessary and at times down right rude.  Triathlon is supposed to be fun (and it is- I swear!) but some people take their racing WAY too seriously and often at the expense of one or more other racers.  Let’s face it…every race is not Kona.  And no race is life or death.  

Here are a few things I have come up with while compiling my list this summer of ways in which you can make a race happy for yourself and for all!   

  • Know the course.  Be informed and if possible, attend the pre-race meetings.  In most cases this will answer any questions you may have and get you even more ready for race day.
  • Plan to arrive early.  And if you don’t want to arrive early, don’t bitch about rack spots or worse expect people to move all around so you can rack.  Your failure to prepare is not the concern of any other racer. 
  • Don’t touch other bikes.  Rack spots are FIRST come FIRST serve.  This does not mean that you can just move some bikes down for the coveted end spot.  You take what you get or you arrive before everyone else!
  • Respect other transition spots.  Your transition area should not take up to much space.  Know what you need and bring it.  Every accessory you own is not necessary on race day.  And please don’t be the jerk who brings their trainer and rides it while others are setting up in transition.
  • Respect other transition spots. Part Two.  When you return to T1 and T2, re-rack your bike where it belongs.  There is nothing worse than coming back to your spot to find someone else’s bike there, leaving you to find another place to rack (which will be someone else’s spot and so on and so on with the domino effect).  Take the extra 20 seconds to be respectful.  And if you accidentally knock over a bike while re-racking, pick.it.up! 
  • Be fair at the bathrooms.  When there are long lines just before start time, it is simply courteous manners to allow those starting before you to go ahead in line.  There is no reason while someone in waves 1,2 or 3 should be stressing out behind those in waves 9, 10 and 11.  And spectators…seriously, hold it until the racers have begun and then you can have the potties all to yourselves! 
  • Know how to swim.  I covered this here.
  • Stay to the right if you are slower on the bike.  As a slow biker myself, I know the importance of not getting in another cyclists way while riding.  Too often slower bikers (or those unaware of how slow they really are) are in the middle of the bike lanes.  This leaves the faster bikers coming behind you having to weave around you on both sides to pass.  This is extremely dangerous to both you and them.
  • Say “on your left” as you pass.  Look, I get passed all the time.  I know for some people they would be saying “on your left” for the entire ride if they did it everytime they passed someone.  And I imagine how old that would get after a while.  Still, saying “on your left” is the right thing to do.  And I don’t expect one to say it for every single person they pass, but in a crowded situation or on a narrow path, letting someone know you are coming helps keep them out of your way.  I am pretty sure it doesn’t take any time off your split to extend a little kindness on the road.
  • Don’t walk in the middle of the run course.  I have been known to take walk breaks.  I do not feel that makes me any less of a competitor.  But it does mean I need to be respectful of those who will be passing me.  If you need to stop or walk, get over to the side of the course to avoid any collisions. 
  • Pick one friend.  If you want to walk or run with a friend, great.  But just pick one.  Nothing is more annoying than having to dodge around friends 3-5 people wide on the race course.  You can talk to them in the food tent, I promise.
  • Don’t stop for water.  Being that I walk through almost every water stop, I have seen some crazy stuff happen!  Water stops are congested as it is and they are the worst place to stop.  Oh, and it is plain rude.  Don’t just grab your water and completely stop and drink in front of the area.  Get out-of-the-way!  Jog through the actual water area, move over the side away from the stop and stop/walk/drink from there. 
  • Name calling is unnecessary.  If you successfully graduated the pre-school program you should know better.  Unfortunately, some people are shitheads and some shitheads like to race triathlon.  If this does happen, rise above.  And then write about it in your blog. 🙂
  • Try not to litter.  I get it-  sometimes despite your best efforts, the wrappers just hit the ground.  But if you can avoid it, don’t trash the race course.  Nothing burns me up more than going through a water stop, watching someone take a GU and then as they pass the designated trash can they throw the packet to the ground.  Unless you invited your mom to come clean up after you, do your best to throw the trash where it belongs. 
  • Be nice to volunteers.  Here are a few words racers tend to forget while racing: please and thank you.  Volunteers do not have to be there- they do not have to hand you water, fight the cold/heat/rain etc or pick up after you.  They do not have to cheer you on, make sure you are okay or care if your bike gets stolen.  But they do.  Volunteers make or break a race.  Giving them a hardtime is a surefire way to make sure they never help again.  As someone who both races and volunteers, I can tell you how nice it is to hear a simple thank you on the course. 
  • Have patience.  Patience is a virtue.  If you go into a race understanding that things happen, you will be much better off in the long run.  Knowing that you may have the above things happen to you will help you deal with them if they do occur.  It is more than likely that you will at one time or another be held up whether by a zig-zagging swimmer, a walker in transition, on a narrow road and etc.  Expect the unexpected and train yourself to deal properly.

And one for the spectators:  If you are going to bring your double stroller, four kids and three dogs to the race…you better have a plan to keep them in control.  This is a race, not the playground.  All too often I see kids running into the middle of bike/run courses or worse…families who expect the race to stop so they can cross the path.  Look, I love spectators and appreciate their presence at my race, but not at the expense of someone (especially myself) getting injured.  Pay attention to your kids or call a babysitter.

What do you think?  Fair list?  Have anything to add?

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25 thoughts on “Triathlon Etiquette- Some Advice For a Happier Race!

  1. That’s a great list and many are the same for any race! I especially like in the “name calling” section that you called those people shitheads.. hehe..

  2. It’s a shame that everything you typed is true! (still a little concerned about the blanket “boys are mean” statement, but it’s a cute stereotype)

    I think alot of the jerks/shitheads are in Phase 2 of the triathlon career.
    Phase 1: Woah, this is scary and new, am I doing all of this right?
    Phase 2: Everything must be perfect or I won’t get a PR. EVERYTHING!
    Phase 3: If I race like I trained, it’s gonna be a great day.

    Your biking is continuing to improve, better start practicing rapid-fire “on your lefts.”

    • Fact: Boys have cooties 🙂

      And you’re right, I should have clarified that MY male readers would NEVER act in those ways!!!!!!

  3. Hi Little Tri Girl, thanks for commenting on my Blog. I am not a triathlete, but do follow Kovas and his friend Patrick from Huntington Beach, CA. I liked your list of 100 – #35 cracked me up. So what is it? Just one question: How many points did Sam Perkins have in the 1982 semi-final game against Houston?

    • Hey now- I was barely one at that time! And I give- I would have to check with google!

      However, 1993, 2005, 2009 are all still fresh in my memory 🙂

  4. What are you talking about? Women being b*tches? Noo…. Never.

    These seem pretty common-sensical but we all know that’s a rare trait to have these days. The potty one, so true. I especially love waiting behind a spectator!!

  5. Another one for spectators: did you pay the entry fee? Did you just run/tri a grueling race? No? Then DONT eat the food! Especially don’t let your kids have free range like it’s a buffet… It’s not. Plan ahead and bring snacks for your needy, whiney children 🙂

  6. Hi Jill,
    Well, as you know, I am not a tri girl:) If for some crazy reason…I would reconsider and decide to cross over to the super stud side…this was a great list! You listed many great “good to knows”! Thanks for sharing Jill!

  7. Great list. During my triathlon this weekend, when I came back from teh bike, there were a few bikes on our rack that were not there at the start. Granted, over half of the 1000+ participants were new, I am pretty sure everything listed above were covered in the registration packet but people didn’t educate themselves.

  8. So true and I have to agree.
    In a few months I’m about to embark on my 2nd season of Tri and I am one of those polite people that always thank the volunteers while I’m riding past or running past them. It’s a simple thing to do but they appreciate it.

    As a beginner, I’m only too aware to keep out of everyone’s way and just do my own race – I’m doing it to enjoy it and maybe one day, it’ll get super competitive – until then, I’m just happy to finish!!!!!

    Your advice is awesome!!!!!

  9. Seriously HILARIOUS but sadly true! I hate when people are rude and annoying and everything!! I want the race to be fun, even if I am racing for a PR or something!!

  10. 1. As a spectator I can assure you I NEVER visit Mr. Bob… EVER!

    2. If you’ve been bringing me along thinking I’m gonna clean up after you… well, don’t hold your breath!!

    3. I think I shall be a guest blogger for you and write the etiquette for spectators especially as to how they affect ME.

    • Yeah…as if you would EVER use a porta potty! No one has to worry about you being in line!

      Get working on that guest post!

  11. This is a great list! All true.
    One thing a volunteer told me in my first race that qualifies as a rule too:
    Smile (yes, while you’re competing). It makes it easier when the going gets tough.
    And like you said, Jill, these races are supposed to be fun!
    Thanks for this. It was much needed.

  12. I love that you write these lists for tri virgins (tri hopefuls?) like myself. So helpful!

    The bike stacking thing totally makes sense. I would be pissed if someone moved my bike or took my spot!

  13. Pingback: Wildwood Tri Race Report « Finishing is Winning

  14. I’ve worked Triathlons before and yeah, some people are pretty crappy. That being said, the majority of them are incredible people and racers in their own right; courteous, respectful and gracious. I think the race directors set a lot of the tone for races, and that feeds into the athletes too.

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