Beginner's Guide


We know you are full of questions. We are always receiving questions regarding our events and race procedures. We've compiled a list of the most common questions below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

When you talk about a race having a "wave" start, what does that mean?

Most triathlon events have between 200 and 600 athletes starting the race at the same time. In order to spread everyone out we break the groups up into "waves". So if there are 400 people in the race then we would have roughly 100 people in each "wave" spaced between 3 and 4 minutes between each. We will announce what wave you are in in the pre-race email that you will receive on the Thursday before your event. We try our best to keep all the age groups together so those that are looking to stay competitive can keep their eye on their completion! ;-) For those athletes that are trying their first triathlon we always encourage you to start in the last wave. If on race day you find out you were assigned one of the first waves and don't want to be, then please come and see us at the Solutions Table where we can make that adjustment for you. It just takes a few seconds and you will be happy you did! By leaving in the last wave you can take a little more time , find your space and not have to worry about the next wave catching up to you . It makes for a more enjoyable first time and gets you used to the triathlon environment!

I hear a lot of talk about a "Transition Area". What is that?

Great question! The Transition Area is the place where everyone racks their bikes for their race. This is where you "transition" from swim -to bike- to run. When you get to the race site, you will see a fenced in area with bike racks all in a row. Each rack will be labeled according to the race and the age group. When you set up your bike look at the end of the bike rack to make sure you are on the right rack. If you are in the Try a Tri the sign will be yellow and labelled "Try a Tri" and it will also state "Wave 1", or "Wave 2" etc. Your race envelope that you pick up at registration will have your wave designation listed on it. Duathletes will also rack with other duathletes (red )and by their wave designation. Sprint and longer athletes will be racking by GENDER and by 5 year age group. (Women 25-29, and Men 25-29 etc .) Relay athletes will also have their own rack.

Are there any special rules in the Transition Area?

Another great question! Yes there are! Only athletes are allowed in the transition area. Family and friends must wait outside. If you have your timing chip on, please stay away from the timing mats until the race is actually in motion. Also, anytime you take your bike off the bike rack you must have your helmet on your head and it also must be securely strapped. You also can't unstrap your helmet until you return your bike to the bike rack. Tip: On race morning make yourself familiar with your surrounds. All exits and entrances are marked so look to see what way you will enter and exit the Transition Area when you return from the swim and the bike and leave for the run. All the towers have either BIKE COURSE written on the them or Merrell RUN COURSE. These help point you in the right direction.

What are the age requirements for racing triathlons and duathlons?

The insurance rates for Triathlon Ontario continue to climb. This is due both to an increase in the number of participants and the general risk to the insurance industry. Our insurer applies a lower level of risk to youth only races than they do adult races. It has been approved that 14 would be a suitable age for kids to race in Try-a-Tri distance races. Each athlete must be at least in their 14th year at the time of the race. (ie- a 13 year old can race if their birthday is before the end of Dec 31 that year). Please have a look at the addittional chart for other Triathlon Ontario age requirements:

I can't tread water very well. Do any of your swims start on land? Please read this article if it's your first triathlon.

Most triathlons will start with a land based swim start. What that means is you will either start entirely on land and run/walk into the water or you will be in shallow water where you can touch the ground. All the Try-A-Tri races offer either a land start or the opportunity to wait on land until the race starts. NOTE - if you will be wearing a wetsuit, you will find that you float very easily in the water and therefore won't have to work hard to tread water.

Are there any swim cutoff times?

Yes there are! Swim Cutoffs are imposed by Triathlon Ontario. They are as follows:

- Up to 500 m- 20 min
- 500-750m-35min
- 751-1500- 1hr 10 min
- 1501-3000- 1 hr 40 min
- 4000m 2hrs 15 min
- 70.3- 1 hr 10 min
- IRONMAN 2hr 20min

What happens if I feel like I can't finish the swim? What do I do?

If you feel like you are panicking or too tired to continue, lie on your back and float . If you can, take off your swim cap and wave it in the air. A lifeguard will come and get you. The most important thing is to remain calm. If you are just feeling tired, by all means, you can just take a rest at a nearby kayak. When you feel rested you may proceed with the race. You will not be disqualified for outside assistance. Safety always comes first!

How do I get the sand off my feet after the swim?

Most swims will have a bit of a run to get to the bikes. Often the run is through grass which will naturally clean your feet. If you get to your bike and you have sand between your toes, you may want to use a towel to wipe it off, or some people bring a container like a Tupperware which they fill with water to rinse their feet. I have done lots of races and never really had any problems with sand remaining on my feet after the swim.

What should I wear during the race?

There are lots of options here. Many people just bike in their bathing suit, which isn't as uncomfortable as one might first imagine. Men need to finish the race wearing a shirt of some sort, but women can race in just a bathing suit if they like. If you are a little more modest than that, you can take time to put on a pair of shorts after the swim (either cycling or running) and a top but be aware that there are no changing tents so anything you put on will go over what you are already wearing. If you are wearing a wetsuit, you should wear whatever you will biking in under the wetsuit to save time and make transition easier.

Where do I place my bike in the transition area?

The transition area is the fenced in lot where the bike racks sit. The racks are organized into age groups (Men 20-24, Men 25-29, etc.) and the duathlon racks are separate from the triathlon racks. You need to find the rack that corresponds with your age group and the race that you're doing (tri or du) and from there it's first come first serve.

What should I wear during the race?

There are a few bare essentials that you need to do a race. You will need a bike (anything that is road worthy will do. No need to have a high tech racing bike for your first triathlon), you must have an ANSI/Snell/CSA certified bike helmet (all bike helmets sold today are certified), you probably want goggles for the swim, you need a swim suit, running shoes of some kind, cycling shoes if you have clipless pedals on your bike, and men need a shirt of some sort to wear. That's the bare minimum, really. You may want a hat for the run, sunglasses for the bike and run, a water bottle or two on the bike is a good idea as well. After that, things like wetsuits, fancy wheels for your bike, racing flats to run in, etc. are all extras.

I have changed my mind and don't want to race anymore. Can I get a refund?

We are very sorry, refunds are for medical reasons only. One of the nice things about the Series, is that if you can't make it to the event because of a scheduling conflict etc. We are happy to switch you to another event (equal or lesser in value or just pay the difference). Take a look at the schedule and see what one suits you better then let us know. Please, no switches within 1 week of the event.

I have a friend who wants to take my spot because I can't race. Can I sell or give my spot to him?

Unfortunately no you can't sell or give away your spot. When you purchased your entry into the race you also purchase your insurance to participate. This is held in your name specifically. Anyone who sells or purchases a spots risks disqualification and future ban in any sanctioned event.