Race help


The Junior regional league is here.

One of the main reasons for doing Triathlon Training is, of course, doing Triathlon Racing. See the British Triathlon web site http://www.britishtriathlon.org for the full Triathlon Racing Calendar.

Though triathlon is fundamentally an endurance sport Youths (Under 17) and TriStars (Under 15) always race over shorter distances. The table below gives typical distances for each age group. Note that the bike leg will be longer if it is on tarmac.

Age groupSwimBike
(if grass)
(if tarmac)
Tri Start 8yrs50m800m1500m600m
TriStar1 9-10yrs150m2km4km1200m
TriStar2 11-12yrs200m4km6km1800m
TriStar3 13-14yrs300m6km8km2400m
Youth 15-16yrs400m 10km2500m(= senior Super Sprint distances)


Race distances are not precise. No two events are the same as the transitions between each discipline are included in the race.


Race Preparation

Triathlon is an unusual sport. Every race is different, there is a lot of kit and equipment involved, you have to look after yourself (no team manager) and you only get one go at getting it right. Preparation is really important. Here are a couple of favourite maxims:

    • Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
    • Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance


Things to do in the days beforehand:

Make sure that you know:

  • Where the event is
  • How long it will take to get there (include car parking time)
  • What time you have to register
  • What time your race starts

Check that all of your kit and equipment is ready.

  • Bike (everything in working order)
  • helmet
  • shoes (running shoes, cycling shoes, elastic laces or toggles)
  • goggles & swim hat
  • race clothes – swimming costume, tri-suit, T-shirt, sunglasses…
  • towel talcum powder (to put in your shoes)
  • drink bottle

If you only discover that something is missing the evening before the race that’s too late to do anything about it.

Here are a few things that it’s a good idea to have with you
– safety pins, elastic bands, insulating tape, spare inner tube & tyre levers, bike tools, bike pump, spare goggles, spare swim hat, toilet roll.


The day before the race:

One important factor in racing well is having plenty of energy. Energy comes from food and goes through exercise and activity. There is no need to eat loads and loads before a race unless it’s over two hours long but conserving energy by taking things fairly easily and eating good quality food is a good idea. Good quality food is carbohydrate – like pasta or rice; vegetables; and protein like meat or fish. It’s best to avoid fatty and sugary snacks like crisps, cakes, chips, burgers, sweets and chocolates. The best thing to drink is water. Most races start quite early in the morning so staying up late isn’t a great idea.


Race day:

Racing on a full stomach is likely to make you feel sick. Racing without any breakfast is also likely to make you feel sick. The answer is to eat a sensible breakfast about two and half to three hours before the race. Besides ensuring that you have some energy and that you have digested your food properly this also means that you are wide awake, fully alert and don’t feel as though you have just got out of bed by the time you race.

A sensible breakfast is something like cereal & toast. It’s sensible to keep drinking up to the start of the race and OK to nibble on a few snacks, like a sandwich, a muesli bar or a banana. Again, sweets, crisps & chocolate do more harm than good*.


When you get to the race:

The four important things to do when you get to the race are:

  • Register, collect your signing on details and find out if there is any new information
  • Check the course
  • Set up your transition(s)
  • Warm up

If your planning was good you’ll have plenty of time for all of these. Remember that queuing for registration and toilets can use up a lot of pre-race time.


After the race:

The most important things to do after the race are to keep warm and to re-hydrate. This is also a good time for a sugary snack. Needless to say, being prepared in advance with warm clothes, food and drink is much better than not being prepared.

* Why do sweets, crisps and chocolates do more harm than good?

The body converts sugar to energy very quickly, in minutes, and the energy that it gets from fat is no good for racing because it cannot be metabolised at a quick enough rate. Eating sugary things is OK if you use the energy straight away – otherwise your body has to do something else with the sugar and it stores it as fat. Even if you do use the energy straight away it doesn’t last long and you feel ‘low’ half an hour later when the energy runs out. For very short races, having sugar just before the start can be beneficial: For races over half an hour it’s a bad idea because the energy low happens during the race.



Racing opportunities for 14+ (Youth & Junior) in Triathlon


There are so many!  Given that before youth most are used to only racing regional league races it can feel as though suddenly the youth field is a bit depleted – but that is mainly because lots of new race series are available from youth onwards (so people have spread to race in other events).  The range of possibilities spreads from regional to national, open water and sea swims to pools, close circuit tarmac, open road and grass cycling and a variety of run terrain.  Some of the possibilities are listed below starting with the blue ribbon national events through to lower key regional events.  Distances are typically around super-sprint (400m/10k/2.5k) or sprint (750m/20k/5k).

1)    Elite super series (http://www.britishtriathlon.org/take-part/events/youth-and-junior-series) – this comprises 4-6 events from spring to early autumn, which are open water, draft legal bike and national level.  These are mass start, 1 wave only, and very competitive and give a great chance to race with the very best in the country.  You need a rear zip trisuit with GB printed on front and back, and a bike frame and wheels that complies with UCI rules (most do, but if in doubt look them up or ask in the club).

2)    National championships (http://www.britishtriathlon.org/news/triathlon_england_-_national_championships_announced_for_2015_4692) these are in 5 year age groups, so youths & juniors will be U20.  That may sound daunting but Cambridge youths & Juniors have a history of doing very well at those they have contested, including two podiums in 2014.  These are open water, draft illegal road cycle events.  That national relays requires a team of four and is one of the most fun events of the year – in 2014 a mixed youth & senior (2 male, 2 female) team from our club came 9th out of 183 teams.

3)    Age group qualification for European and world championships (http://www.britishtriathlon.org/britain/documents/events/2015_events/2015_british_triathlon_age-group_major_events_calendar.pdf).  Many youths, juniors & seniors from the club have attempted and been successful at representing GB at age group championships abroad – so you will see Cambridge shirts if you give it a go.  The top 3or4 in each age group of a qualification event can then go through to race in GB trisuits on a bigger stage. These are open water, draft illegal road cycle events.

4)    One-off national events, there are quite a few of these e.g. The Brownlee Tri (http://www.brownleetri.com/), Supertri http://humanrace.co.uk/events/triathlon/supertri-children-youth-junior-open-water-triathlon) and the Windsor Tri http://humanrace.co.uk/events/triathlon/windsor-triathlon but there are many others.  These are stand alone but strong field open water, draft illegal road, but above all friendly and more relaxed events.

5)    At the regional level there is an adult league (http://www.triathlonengland.org/east/athletes/adults-section/league) and championship (http://www.triathlonengland.org/east/athletes/adults-section/championship) as well as some normal (grass bike) youth specific events you are used to.

6)    There a wide variety of regional events, including Tris at Newmarket, Ely, Saffron Walden, Haverhill and Cambridge!  These are super friendly and often well attended by club members – Cambridge youth & junior triathletes have even won a number of these.  There are also a number of mini-series either pool-based or open water, both locally http://www.justracinguk.com/events, http://www.galeforce-events.com/triathlon-events/bedford-sprint-triathlon-series/  & http://www.nicetri.co.uk/ and nationally http://www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk/ which again many club members have competed and excelled in.

By no means have the whole spread of events open to you been covered, and if you discover an event that is really good then pass the news on to the club so others can try it.  If in doubt ask around some of the other youth & junior triathletes of the club about what they plan to do in the next year.

For a first start at racing with adults, the local events in (6) are highly recommended – don’t be scared of the adults, you’ll beat many of them !