Time in transitions

I'm entering my first triathlon this spring and I would like know how much time I am likely to spend in the transition zones.

I am aiming to do a sprint triathlon and I have looked at the results for last year to try and gauge where I might finish. I know roughly what I can do for each event (adding on time for tiredness) but I have little idea of how long I might spend in the two transitions.

Is it typically about 2 minutes at each changeover, or is it much more. I appreciate that every event will be different and I can imagine some events the transition probably feels like an event in its own right - but what is usual?

One further question: how are the times measured for each event? Does the swim time end when you leave the pool or when you mount the bike, or somewhere in between? Similarly, in the cycle to run transition, where does the cycle time end?

I guess I'll find out soon enough - May - providing I get a place in the Tadcaster triathlon - but it would be good know in advance.

Any replies gratefully received.


  • practise it in your garden, then you'll find out. you might also get quicker.
  • well time actually kitting up i'd say
    T1 - 1min or less
    T2 - 30seconds
    but you can work up to that.
    plus time to get to/from your spot.

    timing depends on the event.
    logistically i think it is easier for them to just note times at the bike entry/exit and finish. meaning swim time often includes T1 and run time often includes T2.
    i usually try and keep the splits on my watch too but i usually forget to start it :-)
  • Depends on the event, how much transition practise you’ve done and whether you wear a Tri suit (getting changed takes ages).

    I spend ages in transition as didn’t have a tri suit last year (maybe 6 mins in total) that includes the run-in/run-out though as said its sometimes obsorbed into swim or run times.

    I spend a total of 11 mins in transition at London Tri but then the run-in/out was about 500m.

    If its your first Tri, go out to enjoy it and use as a info finding exercise. You can concentrate on your transition times as you improve.
  • I was about 6th out of the pool (28 competitors) in my first attempt at a sprint triathlon in Lanzarote this year, but spent so long faffing around with my socks, shoes, helmet fastening etc (about 4 minutes, despite the fact that I was wearing a tri costume so had nothing to add or remove), that I was well down the field by the time I actually got myself on the bike. Fortunately, T2 was a lot smoother.

    I’ve since been advised that there should be no real need for socks if you’re running 5k or less. I will definitely practice before I tackle the much bigger Eton Sprint in early summer.
  • Blimey Susie - my 5yo gets dressed quicker than that !!

    Maybe next time - try 'L' and 'R' on your shoes ?

  • Damn, I knew there had to be something I was doing wrong....!;-)
  • It all depends on the event (transition times and where splits are taken from that is). The best events have timing for Swim, T1, Bike, T2 and run often done with a chip system. 'Tis an interesting fact that the quickest competitors overall are also the quickest in transition - well there is a very high correlation coefficient between the two anyway - if you really want to know I could tell you what the correlation coefficients (r value) between all the split times for each discipline in London Tri 2004 was - overall and for each age-group separately - but then I'm a sad old git.
  • It depends how you go about it JRM. If you're swimming in shorts and putting a cycle top on in T1 you'll loose a minute or two just getting it over your wet body. Same if you try to put socks over wet feet.

    Quickest way is to swim in your tri suit and leave the socks (if you need them) until T2 when your feet will be drier.

    If you clip your shoes to the bike then T1 is just getting your helmet on, number belt and grab your bike. T2 is helmet off and change shoes. Having elastic laces will save you lots of time.

    I can't do the shoes clipped to the bike thing yet so waste time faffing about with them. My London T1 time was 4:00 mins, Sherborne T1 4:08. London T2 2:20, Sherborne T2 1:58. My fastest T2 time was at Sevenoaks where I left the shoes clipped to the bike, I barely stood still for more than a few seconds. They don't time transition so I didn't get a time for it.
  • As stated already, transition time depends partly on practice and partly on what type of event you are doing. For a sprint or Olympic tri I swim bike and run in the same gear, just changing shoes in T1 and T2. In longer races (Half-Ironman and Ironman)I do take the time to change out of my wet swimsuit and put dry clothes on, the time you lose in transition is more than made up by the comfort factor of not wearing wet gear for 5 to 14 hours.
  • Thanks for your replies. It seems that I my initial guess of 2 mins for each transition might be a little optimistic.

    I plan to do my triathlons in a tri suit. So that should cut down any thrashing around with change of clothing. My helmet is one of those with the plastic fasteners so I don't have to spend time threading the straps through a buckle like on my old one, and my cycling shoes have a quick ratchet fastening mechanism.

    I don't mind running without socks but I don't think I would try cycling without them. Anwyay I have some of those trainer socks which I can usually put on in a second even with wet feet.

    I think I will take Mr Ollier's advice and practise transitions in my garden. There's even a pond in it which I could perhaps incorporate in some way.

  • I am slow and organised in transition or so I thought until I did Ironman and then I looked fast, only theory is that the short races made me efficient even though in spints I look like I am on a go slow.

    Just practice and make sure you place everything where you want it. what works for one does not always work for others it is what feels right for you.
  • One other helpful hint...well, actually several:

    1. Roll your socks up pre-race. Like put them on, then roll them down off your foot. Makes 'em easier to put on w/wet feet.

    2. baby powder in bike shoes eases wet socked feet in.

    3. get those elastic shoestring things for your run shoes...no tie time wasted.

    4. Depending on how proficient you are with the bike shoes, try practicing slipping them off as you roll up to T2, that way you dont have to mess with uncleating, unfastening, etc.

    Well that's my 4 quid from this side of the pond.
  • 'Mr' Ollier???? Oh please, you'll give him ideas of grandeur. Just plain candy.

    Practising transition is a big help in sorting out exactly where/how to lay out your gear and in what order to put it on.
    Don't forget to use a number belt, or a plain piece of elastic if you haven't got a belt - the number has to be on your back on the bike and on your front during the run, so you waste a lot of time turning it round if the number is pinned on to clothing. If you're wearing glasses or sunglasses, put your helmet upside down and the glasses inside. Elementary tips, but they work.
  • Uh...just reading back on that, I meant helmet upside down when you lay it out in T1!
  • Do some practises and time them, worth doing these as part of a brick as you also need to get use to the feeling of cycling after swimming, I always feel a lille dizzy, and running after cycling, I always feel very heavy legged and what am I doing here.

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