Everyone remembers their first triathlon. You can ask any seasoned triathlete and almost everyone will laugh at all the mistakes they made and all the things they didn’t know at their first triathlon. But don’t let this stop you from pulling the trigger and signing up for one! There is no better way to truly learn the sport than getting out there and making mistakes. And let me be honest even 10 years later with more triathlons under my belt than I could count, I still made those “rookie” mistakes – like the time I rode the entire bike course at the Encinitas Sprint triathlon with my goggles bouncing around my neck!

Training is always a hot topic for new triathletes, but when I talk to people contemplating signing up for their first tri equipment is one of their main concerns. Yes…triathlon equipment can be daunting. There is lots of it at different price points. It can be hard to decipher what you need, what you can get later and what you can do without. Here is the equipment I used at my first tri. It may not have been pretty but I got from point A to point B and had fun doing it!

Bike: $250 dollar used bike
Bike shoes: Running shoes with regular laces
Helmet: Can’t remember the brand
Wetsuit: Rental
Clothing: Two-piece swimsuit (swam, rode and ran in this)
Race Belt: Pinned number to swimsuit
Nutrition: Whatever the aid station offered
Goggles: Can’t remember
Sunglasses: Light blue Oakleys

As you can see you don’t need anything fancy to finish that first one…just determination and perseverance. It also helps to pick the right race. My first triathlon was a TBF race. The atmosphere was perfect – friendly, supportive and upbeat. There are also plenty of female athletes in transition willing to lend of tip or two to newbies which helps ease any pre-race anxiety you may have!

If finishing your first triathlon is one of your 2017 goals I highly recommend TBF Racing Mother’s Day Triathlon in May. This will give you the opportunity to get your feet wet in the sport with plenty of time left in the year to complete two or three more. Because if you are like me as soon as you cross the finish line you will fall in the love with the sport!

Almost 15 years later I am happy to say I am not still riding a $250 dollar bike in my running shoes. So what I am I using now? Below is a list of my current gear.

Bike: Liv Pique Advanced 1 from Folsom Bike (Mountain bike for off-road triathlons…first one coming soon!)
Helmet: Rudy Project Sterling Limited Edition Fluo helmet in pink
Pedals: Shimano XTR M9020 Trail SPD Pedal from Folsom Bike
Gloves: Liv Passion Long Fingered Gloves
Sunglasses: XX2i Optics France 2 Hyper Pink Blue
Race Belt: Definitely! So much easier and time efficient!
Running Shoes: Salming Speed 5 or Salming Trail T3 (Depending on terrain) with elastic laces
Race Kit: Jakroo USA custom Team Freeplay kit
Socks: Always wear sock for anything longer than Olympic distance road triathlons and all off-road triathlons. (Eyeing Swiftwick Aspire Seven in Stripe Black Mint Berry – Love these!)
Nutrition: Nature’s Bakery Bar, GU Salted Carmel gel and Fluid sports drink in Blueberry Pomegranate
Goggles: Roka R1 Goggles
Wetsuit: Roka Maverick Elite II Seleeveless ( I am a big fan of sleeveless. Love the extra range of motion…even in cold water like Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe!)

*For road triathlons I would swap my Liv Pique for the Liv Avow(which I hope to have soon), ditch the long finger gloves and wear the Salming Speed 5 running shoes.

Image above from a mountain bike race. For an off-road triathlon all the equipment would be the same but I would wear a tri top versus a bike jersey.

Questions about your first triathlon? Reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram!


Twitter: @stephanie_artis
Instagram: @stephanieartis

Want to learn more about what yo expect at your first triathlon? Read Kelly O’Mara’s piece “So, you want to do a triathlon?” here. This article originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Freeplay magazine. The current issue of Freeplay magazine and all archived issues are available in the Apple and Google Play stores. To subscribe click here.