Your First Triathlon

Hurray!  You have taken the first step to get started in Triathlon by visiting this page!  The good news is, with a little planning and preparation, completing your first triathlon is easy!

So, what exactly is a triathlon?

Triathlon is a race in which participants complete a continuous swim, cycle and run race, with transitions (known as T1 and T2) in between to change kit.  Scottish races are listed on our event calendar and participants with a disability can also compete in most of these events, or in events which specifically cater for disability participation.

There are various distances of triathlon including novice, sprint, middle and long. With a little preparation you can start at short novice distance, or with a lot of preparation you jump straight into long distance! If you prefer off-road racing, cross triathlon will cater for your needs.  The following table illustrates the tradional races and distances.

  • Triathlon = swim + bike + run
  • Aquathlon = swim + run
  • Duathlon = run + bike + run
  • Aquabike = swim + bike
  • SwimRun = multiple swim + run + swim + run
  • Novice = 400m +10km + 2km
  • Sprint = 750m + 20km + 5km
  • Standard = 1500m + 40km + 10km
  • Middle = 1900m + 80km + 20km
  • Long = 4000m + 120km + 30km

Relay Wild Triathlon (55 of 244)

Swimming takes place in an indoor pool or outside in the sea, lochs, lakes and rivers.  Cycling is either on roads, cycle paths or cross country (children’s races are always traffic free) and running is either on roads, paths or cross country.

Most Scottish and UK triathlon races are non-drafting which means that pack cycling is not allowed making your race safer and more competitive.  You can read more about the rules of the sport by downloading The British Triathlon rule book.

We also have further reading in our first event frequently asked questions.

Getting started 

1. Assemble your training & racing kit.

Most people have some or all of the kit required to take part in their first triathlon event.  You may be surprised that know that to get started in a pool based triathlon you will only need

  • Swim suit / goggles
  • A road worthy bike / helmet
  • Shorts, t-shirt and trainers

After your first few races you may wish to purchase additional kit to make your race experience that bit more exciting. Use our handy checklist guide below to see some of the typical items.   If you are not sure why you might need something, then call Triathlon Scotland on  01786 466903 and we be able to help.

Triathlon checklist (PDF)

2. Locate your nearest triathlon club

It is not mandatory to join a club, however clubs are at the heart of triathlon in Scotland.  Well-organised, pro-active clubs provide a fantastic platform for members to make the most of the sport. They offer training support which allows you to perfect your technique and most have UKCC qualified coaches.

Find a Scottish club near you

3. Consider joining Triathlon Scotland 

Like membership of a club, it is not mandatory to join Triathlon Scotland.  However by joining, you will receive excellent benefits including public liability insurance and personal injury cover when training and racing and a whole host of discounts on triathlon products.  You will also be helping to support the growth and development of the sport in Scotland (for example helping to support the development of more races).

Join Triathlon Scotland

4. Choose and register for your first race

There are approximately 160 races on the Scottish Calendar and around 1000 races in total across the UK. Races which are registered with Triathlon Scotland, Triathlon England and Welsh Triathlon are certified as safe and are covered by appropriate insurance. If you are entering a Scottish race and it is not sanctioned then proceed with caution.  If you are not sure, contact on 01786 466921.

Search for an event 

5. Start to do some preparation

So that you feel at your best for taking part, you should try to swim, cycle and run at least once a week each, for 6-12 weeks, in the build up to your first event.  The best way to get support is through a triathlon club, or your local leisure centre who will have coaches or fitness trainers who can help you to find the right training plan.  You can also watch short videos and tips on the British Triathlon Website

Watch training tips videos

6. Involve your friends and family!

Everything is better with friends, and so why not get your friends and family members to give triathlon a try too!  They can create their own triathlon through our #YourGOTRI challenge or they can join you at any of our 150 races in Scotland each year. For children, racing starts from age 8 and we honour age categories up to Classic, for ages 80+!

Create your own triathlon

To find out more about triathlon and how it works, watch our short video below from competitors at the popular Scottish event, the Relay Wild Triathlon.  You can also read our frequently asked questions.  If you would like to talk to someone about triathlon, call us on 01786 466921 or visit our office opposite the athletics track at the University of Stirling, FK9 4LA.


Our Partners

Triathlon Scotland is proud to work alongside the following partners and sponsors.

  • Equality in Sport
  • British Triathlon
  • sportscotland
  • University of Stirling
  • Winning Students Scotland
  • Cashback for Communities
  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Legends S
  • ImacImages Photography
  • Yonda
  • MPH
  • Knockburn
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