Getting Started

Keen to give triathlon a go but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve put together some handy advice for to get you started.


What is Triathlon?

In a nutshell, a triathlon is a three-part race consisting of a swim, then a bike ride and finishing with a run. It is a multi-stage event, where participants compete against one another for the best completion times.


Race distances vary depending on the level of competition, with options ranging from beginner to elite and everything in between.


If you want to get a really good feel for how a triathlon event runs, we highly encourage you to watch a live event. This will give you a good insight into what happens during a race, plus they’re exciting to watch!


Stand near a transition area to get an idea of how to rack your bike, when to mount and dismount and watch how others go through the drink stations on the course.

Triathlon Stages

Learn more about how each stage works in a triathlon event.

  • Generally taking place in open water such as a lake or the ocean, the swim is the first part of a triathlon and sets the pace for what’s to come.
  • As with the other disciplines, swim distances vary depending on the level of triathlon you are partaking in so that beginners or less confident swimmers can try shorter swims to start with.
  • You may also like to look into the depth of water that the swim takes place in – triathlon swims range from being along shallow sea/lake beaches to a deep water start in a harbour. We recommend that those new to triathlon or open water swimming begin with shallower beach swims.
  • When it comes to the bike, helmets are compulsory for all races; no exceptions – if the pros can wear them, so can you!
  • The cycling section of a triathlon can be on-road or off-road. The route will be heavily signposted, but it pays to familiarise yourself with the tracks where possible.
  • The final part of the triathlon is the run.
  • Shoes are obviously a necessity when it comes to this part of the race, so make sure they fit and are comfortable prior to the event.
  • Just like with the bike, the route for the run will be heavily signposted with marshals present at checkpoints to make sure you are sticking to the track.
  • These checkpoints often include drink stations to help keep participants hydrated.
  • Consideration definitely needs to be given to the transition between your swim-to-bike and bike-to-run kit, before you take part in a triathlon.
  • If this is your first triathlon, the transition can seem a little confusing. Some athletes like to lay their gear out a specific way for a fast transition, while many first-timers wonder what they should be doing with all of their gear.
  • At many events, we have teams on site to walk participants through the transition, how to rack your bike and answer any questions. This makes the whole process familiar and easy – you can see the entry and exit points, and you will feel well prepared for your event.
  • Remember that race officials will be available to answer any questions you may have. You can even go to a few triathlons as a spectator before your event, to get an idea of how it all works.
  • Whether you’re a first-timer or a more experienced triathlete, it always helps to familiarise yourself with all parts of the course.
    When preparing for an event it’s often a great idea to ask whether course orientation is available.

Get Involved

Learn more about triathlon by joining a club or finding a coach that will help you to develop your confidence as an athlete.