How to manage your Split Transition Preparation is key 

One reason that split-transition races can be more stressful than single-transition races is because athletes worry that they might forget an important piece of equipment, or put an item in the wrong place or bag. This can be prevented with a simple organisational strategy. Before the race, set up all your gear on the floor, a bed, or a large towel—just like you would for a single transition triathlon. Then, separate the gear into appropriate bags: for morning clothes, for bike, and for run.

“I recommend using a master list I use when packing for a triathlon,” says Race Director Richard “For Challenge Roth which has a split transition I made a T1 and T2 list. They gave us the separate bags, and I went through the lists and physically checked off each item to make sure I had everything.”

Checklists like this, as well as being extra thoughtful about how you pack your transition bags themselves can help ease any additional stress. Roll up your socks and put them inside your shoes. Pin your bib number on your race belt. Unlatch the strap of your helmet so it’s ready to go. Set up your gear so that when you open the bag it’s in order of what you want first on top, and then work your way down, If you plan to wear a hat for the run, put your sunglasses, gels and bars, and race belt inside the hat to create a package you can run with out of transition to save extra time.

If you plan to carry gels, salt, and other nutrition on the run, you can put those items into a large Ziploc bag that then goes inside your T2 bag. During the race, grab the nutrition bag and start running out of transition, putting items into the pockets of your tri suit as you go.

The trick to a speedy transition is this: don’t do anything standing still that you could do safely while you’re on the move.

Finding your gear 

At any race with a split transition, athletes are typically required to drop off their bike and bike bag at T1 and run bag at T2 the day before the race. For Aberfeldy you are just required to drop your Run Bag off at T2. We don’t allow access to T2 bags (run gear) on race morning simply because of the logistics involved in getting from T2 back to the swim start. 

T1 bags will be on the floor next to your bike, once you’ve changed into your cycling gear, be sure to put all of your swim gear back into your T1 bag before you leave transition so volunteers can take it to the finish line. 

While transition bags will be marked with your race number, how do you locate your gear amidst thousands of other bags that look exactly the same? A great tip is to add a colourful signifier like bright tape or fun stickers to help it stand out. However, don’t hang anything extra on the rack, because it might interfere with other athletes and will be removed by race officials.  

You can use a highlighter to colour the drawstring of your bags or add coloured Duct tape.

An athlete puts the finishing touches on his run gear bag.

An athlete puts the finishing touches on his run gear bag.

Lay of the land 

Once you’ve dropped off your bags off, do a pre-race walk-through of the transition areas, going through the motions as you will on race day and mentally rehearsing your movements. Note where the swim-in, bike-out, bike-in, and run-out areas are located and walk through the flow of each transition. 

“I like to go to the swim start and eye key features I can use for distance and sighting,” Richard says. “Then, I go to the swim finish and find the big inflatable, so I have an eye on it beforehand. Scope out the bike-out area , the run-out route, and know where the mount and dismount lines are.” 

Next, visualise each part of the transition process. In T1, you exit the swim and remove your goggles, swim cap, and wetsuit. Next, you put on your helmet and cycling shoes and pick up your bike. In T2, you rack your bike, remove your helmet and shoes, put on your running shoes, and grab your race belt, hat, and sunglasses. This mental exercise will help make the process feel like second nature, which is essential when adrenaline hits during the race.   

Finally, study the layout of both transition areas looking for landmarks that can help you locate your bags and bike. You can count the number of bike racks you will need to run past to get to your individual area, or look for nearby objects that can help you get your bearings—like a banner, tree, or building. 

Doing a pre-race walk-through of transition will help you visualize your day.

Doing a pre-race walk-through of transition will help you visualize your day.

Practice makes perfect 

The art of mastering a quick transition can only be done with dedicated practice. It’s something that both age groupers and pros should do regularly whether they’re preparing for a race with a standard transition or a split transition.  

Practice makes perfect, so before the race, set up a mini transition area, set up your bike against a wall and lay out your towel with your shoes and see how everything should look. Practice going through all the motions beforehand.

This process creates muscle memory so transitioning becomes second nature. You can even have a friend time your transitions so you can practice making small changes that will help save valuable seconds. Anyone familiar with the phrase “Marginal Gains”..😉  

Do as much prep as you can the day before, because when you’re in the race, you want to be thinking clearly.

Top transition tips at a glance:  

1. The week of the race, practice each part of the transition process so it becomes second nature. Move quickly, but don’t rush. Be efficient. Remember, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.   

2. Set up your gear on a towel like you would for a standard transition and then divide it into your T1 and T2 bags. Check all the items off your packing list.  

3. Do a pre-race walk-through or rehearsal of the transition area, looking for landmarks, and visualize yourself going through each part of the process.  

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