As I get closer to my first iron distance triathlon, I realize there’s a lot to plan and consider in the weeks leading up to the race day. So, I’ll use this post as my ‘Ironman packing list’ – it will help me stay organized and make sure I don’t forget something.

There’s also a high chance I’ll come back to this post prior to future races for reference.

Ironman packing list

Triathlon requires quite a lot of gear. It’s hard enough to anticipate what I’ll need on race day for one sport, let alone for three very different ones. Ironman is a very long race, so even forgetting something small can cost a lot on race day.

Having a packing list with all small things listed can really help to reduce stress and anxiety during the Ironman race week.

Related: Ironman Checklist – Tips On How To Organize The Ironman Race Week

One of the strategies that helps me to get organized is to split the packing into several categories and focus on one at a time.

First, I split everything into what I’ll need before, during and after the race. From there I also split the race part based on what goes in which gear bag – warm up & post-race (white), bike-related (blue) and run-related (red) stuff.

Ironman packing list for race day
Ironman packing list really helps to reduce stress during the race week, as it eliminates the possibility to forget something.

Ironman packing list – race week essentials

With all the focus on the race it’s easy to forget that there are at least a couple of days between arriving and the race itself. Athletes need that for acclimatization, registration, gear set up, etc.

Traveling, regardless how far, can throw the whole training and taper routine off track.

It’s easy to eat unhealthy and miss those mobility sessions once you’re away from home. So, it’s important to pack for that time as well. For instance, consider any specific foods you might require, clothes to wear to make yourself comfortable and so on…

  • Regular clothes and training clothes for final sessions. I’m planning to run and do a bike ride in a race suit.
  • Any medication that can be required (painkillers, ‘cramp tablets’, something for the stomach, etc.).
  • A book – reading can really ease the nerves prior to race day
  • Any food to consume or cook throughout the week or on race morning. I’m taking oats and dried berries to make overnight oats for breakfast.
  • Sport drink and salt tablets to hydrate throughout the week.
  • Bike (obviously) & tools – floor pump, spares, tools, chain lube. I’m not flying, so I’m taking CO2 cartridges with me as well.
  • Electronics – cameras, phone, charging cords, extra batteries for chest strap and pedals, etc.
  • Tools – scissors, duct / electrical tape, etc.
  • Yoga mat and a foam roller.

Ironman gear bags

Even though I tend to over-plan everything, I try to keep things simple for race day. The less I have in my transition bag, the faster I go through it.

Aside from the white bag, my Ironman gear bags are pretty empty. In summary, my plan for warm up, T1 and T2 is the following:

Warmup / White bagBike / Blue bagRun / Red bag
GogglesHelmetRun shoes
Wetsuit or swimskinBike shoesRun socks
Tri-suitBike socksRun hat
Garmin & chest strapSunglassesRun nutrition
Pre-race nutritionBike nutrition
SunscreenRace belt
Warm & post-race clothes
Recovery food

White bag – before the start

My white bag on race day is going to be a heavy one. Aside from the warm up stuff and ‘street’ clothes, I’ll also put nutrition and all the tools I’ll need to set up the transition there.

As for the swim, the only question for me is if it will be a wetsuit legal race. With all the climate change I’m not sure anymore, even if historically it was a wetsuit race. In fact, in most races pro’s start without wetsuits, so I’m packing both the wetsuit and swimskin just in case.

In addition to the swim gear I’m also taking some pre-race ‘essentials’:

  • Old socks – to help put the wetsuit on and then walk around to stay warm. I’ll throw these out before the start
  • Old flip flops – to walk around before the start once I hand off the white bag. I’ll throw these out as well
  • Resistance bands – to warm up and mobilize the muscles before the swim
  • Cream – to lube the forearms and calves, so that the wetsuit comes off easily in T1
  • Sports drink to sip in the morning
  • Gel and a bottle of water – to drink before the race and wash the goggles before the start

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Blue bag – the bike

For the bike my only concern is not to forget nutrition. It’s the longest part of the race and since I’m not using the ‘special needs’ bags, I’m setting up all nutrition on the bike.

So, besides what’s already in the blue bag, I’m taking:

  • Rubber bands – to secure shoes on the bike for ‘fly mount’. I’ll take these on race morning in a white bag.
  • Bike repair kit & spares – I have this set up on my bike behind the seat post already.
  • Bike nutrition – My plan is to pre-mix gels in a bottle and take energy bars in tri-suit pockets. I’ll take these on race morning in a white bag as well.

Red bag – the run

For the run part I don’t need much extra. Clothes that I’ve packed for the red bag are just fine. Some essentials are:

  • Run nutrition – I plan to pre-mix one gel in a bottle, so that I have fuel right after T2. I’ll take this on race morning in a white bag.
  • Vaseline – I don’t have any run cream to apply in T2 to prevent blisters yet, so I’ll look for it at the expo. If I don’t find it, I can also run without it – no big deal.

White bag – after the race

Aside from everything that’s already in the white bag (which is a lot), I’m also putting the things I’ll actually need after the race. It might take a couple of hours until I’m back at the hotel or at the car, so I’m planning for the longest scenario.

My plan A is to leave everything I’ve used to set up transition in the car and leave only the post-race stuff in the bag to hand out:

  • Small towel – to dry off after a shower
  • Dry clothes – that includes shoes and socks as well.
  • Warm jacket, as I’m often cold after the finish because of exhaustion.
  • Compression socks – I put these on after the shower to relieve/prevent calf pain.
  • Sports drink / electrolyte tabs to re-hydrate. I might skip this one if I’ll feel sick of all the sugar.
  • Energy bar – just in case I’m hungry and it takes too long to get back to the hotel or find a restaurant.
  • Recovery food – For me it’s a green smoothie with antioxidants to minimize inflammation. Otherwise, I’ll eat everything I see on my way after the finish. After the smoothie I’ll focus on what there is in the athlete garden.

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