I never realised how much there was to organise for an overseas triathlon until my first world champs in 2017. Race regos, bike bag, spare tubes, spare tyres, spare cleats, spare sunglasses, spare runners, uniforms, accommodation, flights, food, the list goes on…
Luckily for me, I’m a list-person. So, I wrote lists of everything I could think of, and made sure it fitted within my luggage allowance…just! Three world champs and an overseas marathon race later, and I’ve learnt so much more than what to organise before leaving. You also need to think about the logistics of travel and racing, what foods will be available and what the weather will be like.
My top travel tips:
- Take your race nutrition with you!!! – every country and every race use different sports nutrition products. Using what you’ve practiced will reduce gut upsets. Plus, you can’t always buy what you want in Europe.
- Practice in race day conditions as much as possible – this may mean going for open water swims at 5am, or doing brick sessions later in the afternoon (My Duathlon World Champs race this year started at 4pm!)
- Make lists of everything you’ll need plus more – run through the day before and race day in your head, picturing everything you will do and need.
- Take snacks for flights and travel days – this helps maintain good nutrition and keep those cravings at bay. I like to take nut bars, muesli bars, trail mixes, home-baked cookies, and fruit (you’re allowed to take food on planes, and their meals now are fairly nutritious)
- Aim to arrive in the country or continent at least a week before your event. This helps acclimatise and get over any jet lag.
- Arrive in your event city at least 2 days before if possible – this allows for any delays or missed flights, and means you can get familiar with the area and local food. Go to the supermarkets nearby and organise your race day meal. (For example, I love peanut butter jam toast before racing, so I usually take peanut butter from AUS and scout out jam and bread when I arrive)
- Book accommodation with kitchens or kitchenettes if possible – it means you can make your own pre-race dinner if there aren’t adequate options close by
- Pack your important gear in your carry-on in case it gets lost – race suit, runners, sunglasses, race belt, cleats (if they’ll fit), and team uniform.
- Take a water bottle everywhere you go to stay hydrated
- Focus on what you can control, and make the most of the opportunity to race in a new place
- Lastly – allow double time to travel with your bike bag!! I learnt this very well on my recent trip to Spain. There can be delays waiting for luggage, you need extra time to check in oversized luggage, and you can’t beat google maps ETA when you’re pushing 60kgs of luggage around…believe me, we tried and still managed to miss a flight!
- If travelling after your event, I’d recommend trying to fly in and out of the event city. This way, you can potentially store your bike at the airport and not have to worry about lugging it around with you or paying $500+ for shipping it home
Hopefully these tips will be helpful for your next overseas race. I wish I had known some of these for my first world champs in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), especially about being prepared for unpredictable weather! It rained for three days leading up to the race, there was at least a 2 km walk between the two transition areas, and it was 8℃ on race day (luckily with clear blue skies). I almost missed my race start (dropping off my gear bag to the tent late), which probably contributed to my mini-panic attack 200m into the swim. Breathing in the cold air in cold water was something I hadn’t experienced before. I had practiced racing and swimming in my wet-suit many times before, but with a cold outside temperature, it felt so tight around my neck that I had to stop… yes stop (twice) mid race and unzip my suit, embracing the flow of cold water as I sprinted the next 1300m. Boy do I wish I had turned up to those 5 am swim trainings now.
Good luck, race hard, and have the best time!
(AG AUS Triathlete & Accredited Practising Dietitian at SportsDietitian.com)