How to Pick A Triathlon - Considering Factors

How to Pick A Triathlon - Consider these Factors

As mentioned in my previous article Triathlon Tips, if your first race is in June, the latest you should start training is in February. That would make the winter season the perfect time of year to start looking for races, shopping for a coach or club, and acquiring the necessary equipment to start your training. So let's start planning!

When choosing your race, consider these factors:

The average temperature on race day. What temperature do you like to race at? If you have never raced before all you have to think about is if you don't like to be cold, you might want to stay away from a May race in Ottawa, unless it is an indoor triathlon like the Early Bird Triathlon hosted by Somersault. If you melt standing still in the heat, then choosing a race at the hottest time of the year might not be a good option (choose a spring or fall race)


Who's racing with you?  It's always more fun to train and race with one or more of your friends. Standing at the starting line with a team can help to ease your nerves, and celebrating with fellow finishers is always sweeter than celebrating alone. All the more reason to join a Team like Team Triumph Triathlon Club.


Look at the course map.  This is a two-part.


Part 1 - Is the course spectator friendly? Or are your friends and family going to see you just one time all day? Keep in mind your audience is there to see you, so find a venue that's a fun place for your supporters to enjoy the event.


Part 2 - Is the swim in a lake or the ocean? Depending on the size of the lake, the water can be calmer than in the ocean.  Is the bike/run course technical/flat/hilly? If you are newer to cycling then you would want to stay away from a technical course (big downhills, lots of turns) and if hills are not your jam, then choose a course that is flatter. The same goes for running.


What is the water quality? - What are the water quality and visibility like? I would rather race in a clean clear lake than one where I can not see my hand/arm let alone my fellow competitors.  The Meech LakeTriathlon swim is in beautiful Meech Lake in Gatineau Park. That is a great race to check out.


How many people raced at the event last year?  Would you prefer to stand at the start line with more than a thousand other racers — or only three hundred? Some people get nervous if a race feels crowded while others like the hustle of the pack.


What have other people said about the race?  There are Facebook groups for just about every race these days. You can find reviews of the race on there, or if you are part of a club maybe your teammates shared their race experience on your club page or forum. You can also look at Strava.

Choosing your races

Got your priorities set? Good! Now you're ready to start looking for some races. I'd recommend racing at least once this summer with Somersault which is local to Ottawa, but if you are looking for something outside of Ottawa look to Multisport Canada or Trisport Canada. Over the years I've done races with all three organizations, and can tell you they've got great venues for both competitors and spectators, and crucial support on the course with friendly and encouraging volunteers.  

You'll want to keep your horizons open. Ottawa/Gatineau is a great place to be a triathlete, but you may want to travel for your ideal competition.


Happy planning! See you at the races.


Julia Aimers
CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologist
CSEP High-Performance Specialist

Certified Triathlon, Cycling, Yoga and Swimming Coach
USA Cycling Level 2 Coach
Training Peaks Accredited Coach

Request Information Now!