Last month at The Manchester Airport Duathlon, around 95% of the field, including myself as organiser and Café Azul (local coffee vendor) were caught short when the forecast for a cold but dry weekend, erupted into snow, wind and hail for the first wave on Saturday morning.
Fortunately, the course was safe enough to continue, with due care and attention and participants were advised to take it easy, ride within their limits and not to “race” the wave. It did however get me to thinking, that there is a list of useful but not necessary things it would be worth packing and bringing with you to any multisport event.
Here are my Top 6 things to bring to an event.
1 – Waterproofs and Layers
It goes without saying after our recent experience that a waterproof jacket and layers would be top of my list. Don’t trust the weather forecast and come ready for anything. This doesn’t mean you should pack a full winter kit in the middle of summer, but ensure you have at least a waterproof jacket you can wear before during and after your event. You should probably bring with you some extra layers in case it’s windy but dry during your event and a change of clothes for when you’ve finished.
Even without unexpected weather, layers are always a good idea. Once you’ve finished your wave, you can throw on a dry thin fleece to keep warm or swap from your sweaty t-shirt/Tri suit to a fresh, dry top. You want to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible while warming up/cooling down and of course during your event.
2 – Hydration and Nutrition
I would always make sure I brought a bottle of water with me for my event (we also provide them at our events for your convenience). Depending on the distance, you may not want it on your bike, but it’s always useful to have in transition for before, during and after. I would say water would be the bare minimum, but you could also have an electrolyte drink for afterwards, a protein shake or a light snack to help refuel after your wave. A banana, Peanut Butter sandwich or a cereal bar are all great ideas to give you a little kick one you’re finished.
3 – A small box/bag
When you get to your first multisport event, you’re faced with all the kit required for 2 or 3 disciplines. Goggles, swim hat, cycle shoes, glasses, helmet, gloves, trainers, drink, waterproof and so to keep it organised, tidy and within your transition space, a small box or bag is a really useful tool.
Also, when you’re at a “proper” (at McA Fitness Go Tri events, we won’t disqualify you) event, it is against the rules to touch your bike before you put your helmet on. Therefore if all your kit is in a small bag, you have no reason to touch your bike until you have all the kit that you need ready to go. Likewise, when you return from your bike leg, you can take it all off, finishing with your helmet and leave it safely in your bag. You reduce the risk of losing or breaking anything and you also reduce the time you’ll spend setting up and clearing down in transition.
4 – Cycle Shoes
Cycle shoes are by no means a must when it comes to multisport. They are though perfect if you’re looking to progress with your cycling and pick up your speed on the bike leg.
Essentially cycle shoes have a solid sole for stability and have cleats on the bottom which clip into your pedals. You’ll need to upgrade your pedals too, from flat ones to “clipless” and ensure that the pedal matches the cleat, but once you’re clipped in, you’ll have greater ability to put more power down on the bike which in turn will help increase your speed. They keep your foot in one position for the whole ride, which allows you to both push down on the pedal, but also pull up as well. You’ll start pedalling in smooth circles rather than clunky squares, your pedal stroke will become more efficient meaning you can put the same power down with less effort and in turn, more power with the same effort.
One downside to cycle shoes is clipping in and out of the pedals. This may take some practice and I wouldn’t use them for the first time at your event. We have all fallen off our bikes when trying to clip out before coming to a stop, but you really would rather do this practising safely at home rather than as you come speeding to the dismount line at an event.
Honestly though, this will only happen once or twice and once you’re in, you’ll be flying!
5 – Race Belt/Safety Pins
At organised multisport events, you’ll be given a race number. This is usually, so the organiser can identify you and often acts as part of the timing method. Your number should be visible during the entirety of your wave. When you’re running, it should be on your front and when riding, you should wear it on your back. The best tool for this is a race belt.
A race belt has little hoops which you put through the holes on your number and then allows it to hang from your waist. It’s easy and convenient and allows you to move your number from front facing to backwards facing. It also means you’re not faffing about with safety pins in transition, particularly if you choose to wear any top layers on the bike leg.
Alternatively, you can use safety pins to attach your number to your top. At McA Fitness events, we only require you to wear a number so we can record your time as you cross the finish line, so we will only provide one number, but at other (usually bigger) events, you’ll be required to wear it on your back for the bike and so they may provide 2 numbers or have race belts for sale (see point 6)
6 – Cash
It’s never not a good idea to have a little bit of cash with you. I’m not suggesting you bring your piggybank along, but a tenner folded neatly in your saddle bag, could go a long way…
At the very least, it’ll buy you a coffee and cake once you’ve completed your event and you can enjoy with other participants while chatting about how you got on and what you learned from your race.
I hope this has been a useful read and you’ve learned something and updated your pre event list. Let’s hope for better weather at the next event, but if not, at least you’ll be prepared!