Guide to Triathlon Race Etiquette

Another gorgeous and sunny day in Reno!

Preparing to adventure into the unknown world of marathons, I thought it may be good to address an area I’m more familiar with…triathlon racing! Here’s a few tips for succeeding on race day, not making an idiot of yourself, being polite to those around you (especially if you’re a noob), and just having fun (that is the point after all)!

  1. Know what’s going on – the first time you step into the triathlon “arena” can be a very intimidating experience. You are suddenly surrounded by bikes that cost more than your car, the chaos of body numbering and stretching athletes, the anxiety of waiting in line for porta-potties (do this early/often and bring your own TP), and typical feelings of “I don’t know what’s going on!!!!” The best way to solve all these problems is ASK FOR HELP! Triathletes are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and are always willing to provide advice or guidance. Plus, there are tons of staff that can help you as well.
  2. Understand the transition area – this is critical to having a safe and enjoyable race. I always show up to the race venue to understand how the various ins and outs will work for the swim, bike, and run. Some races have you enter and exit the same point while others have you come and go at 6 different places. Be aware of where you’re going because a) it actually does matter and b) you could get hurt if you aren’t careful
  3. Race at your own level – as a beginner, be aware that you aren’t quite as comfortable in this setting as people who have been doing it for 5 years. If you aren’t an amazing swimmer, do NOT get in the front of the swim starting area. It’s assumed that people in the front know what they’re doing (and they do), and you will be crushed and flattened on your way to the first buoy. Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses, and adjust accordingly.
  4. Don’t be an ass – reading 3 articles on triathlon racing does not make you an expert. There’s no need to showboat or mouth off to other competitors around you. Frankly, they just don’t care about how cool you think you are. It’s fine to ask for help, but don’t overstep your bounds. Be polite, courteous, and respectful to those around you and you’ll have a wonderful and successful day!
  5. Snot blowing – probably my favorite topic! I have no issue with people trying to get the runoff from their nose onto the ground (known as a farmer’s blow). However, do not do it onto a fellow competitor!! Biking at 25 mph means your snot can end up anywhere. If I get splattered while racing, there’s bound to be an exchange of words.
  6. Have fun! –  keep in mind that everyone is at the races for different reasons. Some are there to drop 2 minutes, and others are there just to finish. In the beginning of one’s triathlon “career”, it is important to understand why you are there.

Best of luck in your endeavors. What other best practices do you recommend for racing?



  1. I just stumbled into this website. After completing my first triathlon this past Sunday you have hit the nail on the head with the first point. The transition area was lavish as I saw some two wheeled innovations that looked fresh out of Back to the Future rather than a bike. The porta potty lines were long despite using the facilities prior to leaving my house-nerves! The experience was a blast, I wish I could insert some intelligent word to describe participating in a Triathlon but “blast” embodies it all from my experience. Yes, i am already planning my next triathlon, hopefully in a few weeks.



  2. Hey Jason,

    That’s awesome that you have jumped into the world of triathlon! How exciting. I’ve been doing it since 2007 and each year seems to get better and better. What part did you find the most intimidating? Transition can always be interesting (and overwhelming) but I still found the environment invigorating!

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