Triathlon gear

A triathlon is a combination of three different sports: swimming, running, and cycling. Therefore it requires a lot more equipment than your average sports race, and it can get expensive to buy all the gear you need, especially if you have to start from scratch.

You can do it on the cheap, but there is some basic equipment that you have to have in order to take part. Then, of course, there is some nice-to-have stuff that will make your life as a triathlete much easier. Here's a roundup all the triathlon equipment you'll need, and some nice-to-haves.


You need:

- a swimsuit - preferably a tight-fitting one. Babby shorts or skimpy bikinis may cause unnecessary drag, or restrict your movements.

- a bright-coloured swimming cap (they should be bright-coloured, because in the event of you sinking, the swimming cap will make you easier to spot under water)

- swimming goggles

Depending on the climate in your area, and the season, you might need a wetsuit to keep you warm. Although you can do your training indoors in a heated pool, triathlons are held in the outdoors and the swimming leg of the race is usually done in the ocean or in a dam, or lake. If the triathlon is in Richard's Bay in summer, you don't have to bother with a wetsuit, but if it is a Blouberg in October you will definitely need the extra padding.

Wetsuits do more than keep you warm. They also make you buoyant. This gives you an advantage in the water as you can spend more of your energy propelling yourself forward, while the suit keeps you afloat.

It is important to note that not just any wetsuit will do. Triathlon wetsuits are designed to allow more movement of the arms, and are very easy to slip out of – which is important when you need to slip into your cycling outfit as quickly as possible. Regular diving or surfing wetsuits are allowed, but would probably restrict arm movement and might cost your a couple of minutes when you battle to take it off.


- pool gadgets like a kick board, pull buoy and paddles that will assist with training, although you can't use any of these during the actual race.


You need:

- A roadworthy bicycle

- Helmet

- Water bottle cage and water bottle

- Spare tubes

- Tyre levers and mini pump

- Cycling shorts

A bicycle can cost you anything from R500 (if you buy a cheapie second hand) all the way up to the price of a small family car – it depends on how much you have to spend, and how competitive you are. For road races you can use a road bike or a mountain bike, but as the latter is much slower, you won't be able to race competitively. You can shed a couple of minutes off your time on the mountain bike by replacing the knobbly tyres with slicks, which will make the bike travel faster on the road.

For off-road races and trails you will need a mountain bike with knobbly tyres.


- Cycling shoes and pedals

- Cycling shirt

- Tri-suit


You need:

- Running shoes

- comfortable shorts/tights to run in

- a sports bra for women

Nice to have:

- sunglasses and cap

- (Information supplied by Richard Woolrich at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa) 

Read more:
Extreme fitness: triathlon

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