How To Spectate A Triathlon

Oh, man. Sorry I vanished for several days. We spent all weekend at a nearby lake so Donnie could participate in a triathlon festival. (6 races in TWO days!) And then yesterday I was playing “catch-up” on life and work but it didn’t go well because I’m still barely functioning at 80% on my BEST day thanks to allergies. WILL THEY EVER GIVE ME A BREAK?!?!

ANYWAY! Today I’m putting all of the lessons learned from this weekend and 3 triathlon seasons prior into one blog post to help any newbies out there NOT take four years to build up this knowledge!

How To Spectate A Triathlon

Triathlons are more fun to spectate than foot races because – most of the time – you can stay in ONE SPOT and still see TONS of action. Therefore – it’s often best to stay there for the whole event with your athlete so you can see them do everything. However, it’s not as easy as just being there. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years.

  • If you can, arrive WITH your athlete. This may seem like a HUGE page to get there early, especially if they’re not going to actually get in the water and start the race until later in the event. BUT STILL…going with your athlete means they don’t have to drive themselves home, which is helpful to them. It also means you don’t have to part too far from the event. Having your car easily accessible will mean you don’t have to drag everything around with you all day. The later your arrive, the worse your parking spot will be.
  • Bring seating. I suggest those campground chairs that travel in bags, but throw a beach blanket in the car if you have one because sometimes that’s actually better and you don’t want to HAVE to carry around chairs if you don’t need. But always bring SOMETHING to put your butt in BESIDES the ground.
  • Bring snacks. Even if the triathlon is a Sprint event (a short one) you will be there awhile including early arrival (to set up transition) and possibility of late start (triathletes all start their race at different times) and you’ll be surprised how hungry you get watching people exercise.
  • Sunscreen! You will also be surprised how sunburned you can get.
  • Bug spray. Because of the need for a source of water for these events, the prevalence for mosquitos is strong.
  • First aid kit. This is especially true if you have kids with you because they’ll be running around like maniacs betweens sightings of their athlete, but it’s also true for any adults because, well, some of us are clumsy and fall down a lot.
  • Put thought into your spectating spot(s). Near transition is a given because it means you’ll see your athlete AT LEAST twice (once when they transition from swim-to-bike, and once from bike-to-run), but most of the times the START and the FINISH is near transition too. SO! If you’re smart, you can stay in one place for the whole event. All of the athletes will be asking about the Run and Bike ins/outs so you just make sure you get that same information. It’s best if you can see them LEAVE transition because cheering them onto their next event is better then cheering them into transition. But, be aware of where the FINISH is so AS SOON as they’re out on their run, you can relocate if necessary.
  • Change of clothes! For the kids, obviously. Hopefully you won’t need one. I forgot that key element this weekend: HUGE MISTAKE.
  • Take a lot of pictures. You have NO IDEA how much your athlete will love this!

I hope this helps you have many successful events as a spectator! Let me know if you have any other tips!

One Final Note: This triathlon festival this weekend had one Olympic Distance Triathlon (I learned you can call those “Olys” this weekend. I’m a cool kid now.) and then 5 other events. One of them was a single rider time trial meaning you get on your bike and race the clock. They send riders out every 30 seconds or so, so there is SOME competitive motivation, but mostly you’re racing the clock and results are read out later. WELL…look at how they started this thing! HOW COOL IS THAT?


1 thought on “How To Spectate A Triathlon”

  1. This is very helpful info. Thank you! My cousin was going to participate in her first triathlon two weeks ago and I was just going to make a sign and stand somewhere along the route. I was planning to do that based on you saying how much having someone cheering for you helps when you’re out there.. But she ended up with a stress fracture in her foot (from the training?) and didn’t get to participate.

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