This is a funny topic to me, because I still feel like I have no clue what proper ‘race etiquette’ in triathlon IS! In marathons and ultramarathons, basically the only ‘etiquette’ is don’t run RIGHT behind someone. That’s pretty much it. In triathlon though, it seems there is MUCH more to it. So, I’ll list what I know about race etiquette (or think I know), and you more experienced triathletes/cyclists out there can correct me!
1) Above all else, keep your items within your specified transition area! Even if you think you should have more room than they’ve given you, even if you don’t have anyone set up beside you (yet), you should not expand your things beyond your “zone”. People will get mad. Practice setting up your transition site so as to take up as little room as possible.
2) It seems it’s polite to make conversation with people before the race starts while you’re waiting for your swim wave. I’m usually one to keep to myself, but every race I’ve been at, people tend to start talking to me before the start. I guess this is normal.
3) When on the bike, call out “passing on your left”, ect when overtaking someone ahead of you.
4) When approaching an aid station,, if you wish to partake in what is offered, indicate to those directly behind you that you’ll be grabbing aid. Then call out to the aid station workers what you are looking for. I’ve also started pointing to the volunteer that I plan on taking from and making eye contact with them, so they know to anticipate me grabbing from them.
5) When someone is stopped beside the road (for mechanical issues or whatever), call out and ask them if they’re ok. This one is funny, because it’s happened to me a few times, and I’ve done it to racers before. I don’t think the person asking “are you ok” would actually be willing to stop and help change a flat, but they ask anyway. Also, I don’t think the person sitting on the side of the road is willing to call back “yes, I’m fine, but could you help me with my tire?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing it’s just “proper etiquette”!
6) When you pass someone, or someone passes you (both on the bike or the run), encourage them in some way. Most people just say “good job” or “you look great”. Just a small phrase to acknowledge the fact that they are there, and you know what they’re going through. You may be racing, but you’re all trying to accomplish the same goal-encourage them in that.
7) Don’t try and have a conversation with a triathlete during the run portion of your race. I am a distance runner, and as such, I love to talk while I’m running. It has been a HUGE adjustment for me to realize that triathletes don’t really enjoy talking while they’re running! Occasionally I’ve been lucky enough to strike up a conversation with a fellow runner-turned-triathlete….but it’s rare. Just say “good job”, and then close your mouth
8) As with the bike portion, when approaching an aid station during the run, call out what you’d like to receive, and then head toward the person who has what you’re looking for. If you don’t want aid from them, just go around the aid station and say “no thank you”.
Those are pretty much all of my tips from 2 years of racing!
Any seasoned vets out there know all the ins and outs of race etiquette? I’d love to hear your tips!