Race Day & Race Travel Checklists

Every time I travel to a race, my biggest worry is that I’m going to forget something.  You know, something so tiny – but so important, such as a small-but-required part for my bike, or sometimes something even much bigger – like my running shoes.  And it doesn’t matter whether I’m travelling 3,000 miles or 30 miles, my fear is the same.

So, a number of years ago I put together a race day checklist, based on my continued packing and repacking.  I’ve since refined it to be my perfect list of exactly what I need for any race, be it close or far.

While there is no perfect ‘everyone list’, I think this covers most of the major items that folks usually need for a triathlon.  I would make tiny little tweaks for an Ironman event (more nutrition), but otherwise, that’s about it.  And a few of them are specific to if I’m breaking down my bike to travel somewhere.  And finally, some of them are ‘just in case’ type of things…just because I’ve found it’s nice to have spares in my transition bag.

So here’s the whole list:


Now because I’m your bestest friend ever, I’ve also made the thing available in Excel format, so you can add your own items and tweak it as you see fit.  And, for everyone else who’s Excel deprived…in PDF format.

Of course, the second list I use is my pre-race checklist.  This is the one I go through in transition area to ensure that during the race when I run into T1 or T2 I’m not missing something important (like my race number or gel bottles).  I do this just before I leave transition the final time to head to the swim start.

This list is meant to be super-quick, and is mini-laminated and zip tied to the top-inside of my transition bag, so it’s always accessible and always there.  Here’s what’s on that brief checklist:

Pre-flight Checklist:

0) Liquid in bottle (water & gel)
1) Straw on bottle
2) Helmet on straw
3) Glasses on helmet
4) In easy gear
5) GPS on bike
6) GPS turned on
7) Towel to side of bike
8) Socks on towel inside out
9) Shoes on towel
10) Racebelt has number
11) Racebelt on shoes
12) GPS Running Watch on Shoes



1) HRM on
2) Chip on
3) Swimcap
4) Goggles

This list can be found in a simple .txt file format here.

For me, getting to the race without having to worry about what I’ve forgotten is key to a successful race day.  Obviously, feel free to download these and tweak them however you’d like.  Good luck!


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  1. What a star! My first middle distance race this weekend (IMUK 70.3) and the first race that is far enough from home that I’m having to camp the night before.
    With 2 children in tow this list will certainly help me with my packing – thanks very much!

  2. Ha, you rock!!! My girlfriend totally makes fun of me for making lists. That was until I forgot the bladder to my CamelBak for my 100 mile MTB race. Bladder wasn’t on the list but CamelBak was! lol! They both are now! 🙂

  3. Great list, downloaded the Excel file and plan on putting it in my tri bag!

  4. You think of everyting dont you? I too always fear forgetting something. However with your nifty list, my fear can be put to rest.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing! This will definitely help me in my upcoming races!

  6. Wish you did this post in March! I was LOST trying to get ready for my first Tri…but I made it through by doing several mental lists over and over and over. I will definitely be using this for my next one in October!

  7. Wow, you sure don’t travel lightly when it comes to your check list! But way to stay organized…I should get me one of those.

  8. Don’t worry, you’re not the only anally retentive obsessive list making triathlete!
    I would add… vaseline (for the heel cups of cycling and running shoes)
    Marker pen (think that’s “sharpie” in American 😉 – I write where my bike is in transition on the back of my hand at big races – nothing worse than the possibility of spending a minute running around transition while other people head off onto the course!

  9. i love the “regular person bathing suit” line-item 🙂

  10. Ha! I love the “in easy gear” reminder. Lord knows I forget that one quite a bit!

  11. good list Ray! good luck to you both tomorrow!

  12. Rob P

    Thanks for the checklist and all the awesomeness you provide!

  13. Boaz

    Hello Ray,

    Great lists!

    I see you swim with an HRM, then you have a bike GPS unit and finally a GPS running watch.
    Can you please explain how these play together?
    Do you use one HRM for the entire race and then a GPS-only bike unit and finally a GPS-only watch?
    If so, does this mean you run with 2 watches?
    Are you not collecting any location info for your swim?

    I’ve seen in other posts that you use the Garmin 910XT. Isn’t it good enough to do it all?


    • Yup, just a single HR strap with two units (watches). Both are paired to the same strap.

      I don’t use the FR910XT as much as I like having a separate bike-focused unit on the bike. Sometimes I do wear it on the swim, but not always.

  14. Eric McMinoway

    One thing I found at my last tri, was I need a reminder to take the sneaker balls out of my running shoes. Nothing like coming in for T2 and jamming your foot in your running shoes only to have to stop and take those out.

  15. Oscar P

    Nice list. Thanks Ray!
    I wonder if I’m the only one that worries about “loosing” their gps (Garmin Edge 500) while not on the bike leg. Do you or anyone have any tips for making it less attractive? I do trust the triathlete community in general but there is always the bad apple. Will be doing a tri in a couple of weeks and was thinking of hiding it inside a shoe and just take the extra 3 seconds to snap it back.

    • I’ve only heard of a handful of such cases over the last 5-7 years. For my running watch, I do tend to simply stick it in my shoe and then have the socks lying on top.

  16. laq

    your list reminds me of the list i make (well used to) when my daughter competed in irish dance (though that list had more E6000, and extra rhinestones then your list)

    i think you need “the wife’ be a “Tri-mom” to do what dance moms do… take care of everything while you just do your thing … feel free to let the wife know i said that (which i’ll deny FYI) and be sure to “pay” her well!

    Amazing list!

  17. David

    Sidewalk chalk. I always use kids sidewalk chalk to mark the row my bike is in. I say always, but I didn’t think about it for my first race, but saw “everyone” else doing it. So I made myself a note. The next race, I was just about the only person with chalk. It was kind of weird.

  18. Luke

    I come back to this list posting about once/year just to make sure I’m on top of things. It looks like the links are broken to the excel and pdf files. Any chance those could be fixed? Thanks in advance for what you do to help folks access and stay in the sport!