Coaching Tip: Packing Your Transition Bags for an Ironman Race

One thing I get asked about as a coach is how to set-up and pack your transition bags for an Ironman race.

If you’re a first time Ironman athlete you may never have encountered a T1 and T2 quite like Ironman does them. At athlete check-in you’ll receive a number of bags specified with their different purposes (IE Morning Clothes, Bike Gear, Bike Special Needs, Run Gear, Run Special Needs). Here is how I choose to set-up my bags for a race:

Morning Clothes – This is for your warm clothes you wore to set-up transition on race morning.

Bike Bag – Bike helmet, sunglasses.

Bike Special Needs – An additional bottle of bike nutrition, spare bike tube, spare Co2 canister.

Run Bag – Running shoes, socks, race belt and number, gels, hat/visor.

Run Special Needs – A couple extra gels, Body Glide, a Ziploc with some bandaids, mole skin, and dry socks in case your feet need some attention during the marathon.

During the race you’ll exit the swim and be funneled past your Bike Gear bag. Grab it and move toward the appropriate changing tent staffed with volunteers.

Entering T1: Grab a volunteer with your bag in hand. Dump it out, put on helmet and sunglasses, then leave your goggles, cap and wetsuit (or swim skin) for the volunteer to put in the Bike Bag and put away for you. (Note: I mount my shoes, computer and nutrition on my bike before the race to simplify this transition).

Coming in from the bike, dismount and hand your bike off to a volunteer. Make your way to your run gear bag and then on to the appropriate change tent staffed with volunteers.

Entering T2: Grab a volunteer with your bag in hand. Dump it out, put on socks and shoes, leave helmet with the volunteer to put in the Run Bag while you run off putting on your hat/visor and race belt. (Note: Exiting T2 is a great time to stop for sunscreen, I’ve skipped this a number of times to my detriment)

Simple enough? The gear from the previous discipline goes into the bag for the next discipline, rely on the volunteers to do what they’ve volunteered to do.

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