Packing a Car for a Local Triathlon

A Guide to Packing a Car for a Local Triathlon

What is a Local Triathlon Compared to a Destination Event?

A destination triathlon is a triathlon that takes place in a different location than the participant’s home. It is often considered to be more challenging because of the change in environment, climate, and altitude.

Beyond that, the sheer logistics of getting yourself and your gear to a destination triathlon can be a challenge. Not to mention that race entry fees can sometimes just be a fraction of the cost of attending an event once you account for hotel rooms, flights, and gear transport (especially bike shipping and reassembly).

We are believers that you do not need much training to do a triathlon (we wrote a whole guide on doing a triathlon on minimal preparation). One upside of this is eliminating the logistical struggles of competing.

a bin packed for a triathlon

There are many reasons why people participate in destination events. Some people do it for the thrill of competing in a new location while others are just looking for an excuse to explore new places. But for beginners and seasoned athletes alike, the chance to do a race close to home can be a huge draw. At the extreme ends of things, a race that is close enough to ride your bike too can save you time on the day of the event leading to more sleep and relaxation which ultimately leads to better races. 

Packing for a triathlon will depend entirely on how much you can bring, and that changes on plane rides. Choosing a triathlon that is driving distance removes a number of complicating logistics from a triathlon. A properly packed car will hold not only all the race day essentials, but it can serve to have a backup plan if weather or circumstances change on the day of a race. Choosing between two types of shoes, deciding to wear a hat, or figuring out the ideal nutrition can all be simplified if you can simply pack all the options. 

Packing for a Triathlon: What Should I Bring with Me to the Race?

Everything that you can carry to make you more comfortable. Generally speaking, apart from a bike helmet, bike, and clothes, you will not need much to complete the race. Everything else goes toward making you more comfortable.

The race day can be a lot of fun, but it can also be chaotic. Triathlon races are notorious for having a lot of things going on at once. There are so many things to do and remember, and it is easy to forget something that you really need. It is important to have a plan in order to make sure that you have everything you need when the time comes. 

Pre-race: Remember to bring food, something that will give you energy but sit well in your stomach. Extra clothes to stay warm at a cold start are also important. Check with race organizers, many will donate left over clothes so you can even plan to bring an old sweatshirt or pants and peel them off only just before getting into the swim. Also, depending on the setup a simple towel can be highly useful, you can use it to sit on and make avoid sitting on cold hard curbs, wrap up in one like a blanket, or create a shield if you need to change last minute. When driving to a race, packing a pillow is also a huge benefit. Many triathelts have had the experience of over planning and arriving at a start too early only to realize their wave doesn’t begin for hours. Set a phone alarm and catch a few Z’s.

TransitionsOften in a transition area you will see bins of gear. A clear sided storage container is the perfect accessory, you can pack it at home, stick it right in the car, and be sure that all your essentials are in one place. Having a transition box (or two, one for after the swim and one for after the run) also ensures that you don’t forget something back in the car. Hopping on the bike only to realize that your sunglasses are still on your passenger seat in the car can really put a damper on a ride. Pull the whole box out and bring it straight to the transition area.

Post-race: Post race is where having a vehicle is overwhelmingly beneficial. Pack everything to account for what-if scenarios. Worst case, you just drive it back home. A few changes of clothes, sandals, first aid gear to solve blisters, favorite snacks, a folding chair, a non-sweaty hat, even shampoo and soap, can turn a dreary post-race event into a celebratory occasion. 

What Should I Leave in the Car on Race Day?

A downside of having everything possible packed in your car is that it delays the decision on what to actually bring to the race. It is impractical, and somewhat rude, to unload everything into the transition area. This is why we recommend having a pre-packed transition box that goes with you and has the key essentials. When it comes to what to leave in the car, valuables. Despite the best efforts of race organizers, transition areas are full of expensive bikes and gear and are a target for folks with bad intentions. If you care about jewelry or a special piece of gear that is not going to be used, it is much better off locked in a car. 

For the most part, leave all of your post-race gear in a car as well. Even if it means walking a bit to a parking lot, having only required gear in transition areas will ensure a smooth transition and avoid losing things. There is no reason to have to toss your post race sandals or socks out of the way well slipping on running shoes during Transition 2. Keeping things together also avoids accidents as participants may roll a bike over your area or accidentally kick or knock things in their haste to make it to the next part of the race. 

How To Pack Your Car For The Race Day

Packing for a race day can be a daunting task. There are many things that you need to take care of and pack. You need to make sure that you have everything you need and also don’t forget anything. Pack by sections (pre-race, race, post-race) to make it easy to locate things. The least likely to be required gear can be buried in a truck or backseat, but make sure core essentials are easy to grab. 

Another tip is to have a checklist. Having a written packing list will help you avoid questioning, “Did i pack that”, and will make sure that all the essentials required by the race organizers are in the car.