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Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified

Davey and I have some friends who are going to train for their first triathlon with us this year! We’re so excited! (Getting your friends and family to train with you is great for your accountability and motivation, by the way!)

So, my friend went to the race website to register, but she had a few questions about the form and it made me realize how confusing triathlon registration forms can be.

If “Do a triathlon” is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, then you’re in luck because today, we’re gonna walk you through the registration process, and before you know it, you’ll be signed up for your first triathlon! Woohoo!

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

1. Go to the race website and find the button that says register or sign up. Sometimes there will be a Sprint and Olympic triathlon on the same day, so just make sure you’re registering for right one. For this example, I’m signing up for the Sprint, so I have to make sure I click the Sprint link.

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

2. When you click the race you want, you’ll most likely be redirected to another site like or to complete your registration.

3. Once you’re there, you’ll have to select whether you’re an individual (doing the whole race by yourself) or doing it as a relay (having a “team” of 2-3 other people and each doing one of the 3 sports).

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

4.  At some point, you’ll have to select your category. What this means is that you’re selecting who to compete against. Davey and I usually always choose age group and so for me, that means I’m competing against the females age 30-35. Now, I don’t usually take the competition seriously and I race to beat my own goal time, but if you finish with one of the top 3 times in your category, you’ll get an award (and sometimes it’s $$$!). You can only pick ONE, so choose wisely!

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

You can select beginner (1st triathlon), age group (your age on Dec 31 of the year of your race), Athena (ladies over 165 lbs), Clydesdale (men over 220 lbs), or fat tire (if you’re using a bike that has larger tires than the typical thin road bike tires). The aquabike category eliminates the run part of the triathlon so that triathletes with hip and knee problems can still race. So if you REALLY hate running but still want to do a triathlon, you can always enter the aquabike category!

(*Your particular triathlon may have fewer or more category options as it can vary from race to race.)

5.  The next part of the registration form that can be confusing is the part where you have to enter your estimated finish time. But how do you know your finish time if it’s your first triathlon? Good question.

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified | TwoTri.comThere are a few reasons why they want to know your expected finish time. It could be what they use to assign you your race number, it could be what they use to assign you your start time/swim wave, or

You have a few options:

  1.  You can estimate your time by using this triathlon race calculator or you can look at the previous year’s race results, which are usually on the race website, and find your age group and then estimate an average time,
  2. You can pick a time based on what your goal finish time is,
  3. Or you can just take a wild guess.

The swim time is a little more important than your finish time, especially if your triathlon is a rolling start where you line up and jump in the water one by one instead of a mass swim start where everyone in your age group starts at the same time. Your estimated swim time is used to assign you your bib number and that determines when you’ll start the race. They usually line you up, faster swimmer at the front of the line and slower swimmers towards the back.

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

Mass swim start

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

Rolling swim start

Tip: If your triathlon swim is a rolling start and you’re a slower swimmer or are nervous about swimming close to other people but you enter a fast time (ie: 6 min for 400 yards) then there’s a higher chance that the faster swimmers will swim over you or bump into you. So just stick to more conservative time, like 9-10 min for 400 yards and you’ll most likely be swimming with other triathletes who swim at the same pace as you and probably won’t be swimming over you to pass you.

6. Sometimes your form will ask if you’re a part of a triathlon club or team. Joining a triathlon club is a great idea and you’ll meet lots of other triathletes who will help support, encourage and cheer you on as you train. Triathlon clubs also usually do a lot of group swims, group bike rides and group runs, so if you want the camaraderie, or competition, then try to find a triathlon club in your area. 

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |

7. Depending on if your race is a USAT sanctioned race, you’ll have to buy a one-day USAT membership for $12. Unless you’re doing more than 4 triathlons this year, a one-day pass is the best deal.

USAT is the governing body for all things triathlon and if your race is a USAT race, then that means you have to abide by the USAT rules.

Triathlon Registration Forms Demystified |


8. The rest of the form is pretty self explanatory… you’ll have to click that you read the waiver and then all you have to do is pay and you’ll be registered for your first triathlon!

We’re so excited for you to do your first triathlon! If you need help with your registration form, or with anything else, don’t hesitate to email us: or!

If you are already registered for your triathlon and don’t know what to do next, read this.


About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →