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Help I’m Racing an IRONMAN – Registration & Racking Guide

ByJoanne Murphy |

Racing your first IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 this year?  Trying to get your head around the pre race logistics from registration and bike racking to filling those red, white and blue bags pre race. We have compiled some top tips and insider information to help answer some of those niggling questions that can set your heart racing before you ever hear the first note of Thunderstruck belt out across the swim start on race morning.

So let’s start with the basics before you ever set foot in the registration tent

Read the athlete guide and watch online or turn up to the in person race briefing. The IRONMAN team take a lot of time to compile these guides and briefings for the athletes and 90% of your questions can be answered by simply taking the time to read the guide and watch/ attend the briefing.

In advance of race week, get yourself organised, make a list of everything you need for race day and will need for registration. Start gathering the bits and pieces you need well in advance of having to pack your bags and your kit, this includes the bits you need for registration outlined below, this will reduce your stress levels by at least 90%!

At an IRONMAN event, you pick up your race number, race wristband, commemorative race bag, race stickers and those all important, red, blue and white transition bags at registration, packs are not posted out. You must have your QR code from race entry confirmation, your race licence and a form of ID to ‘ check in’ at the race village.   Plan your logistics around race registration, there may be queues if you arrive at a busy time, plan ahead for your parking and leave plenty of time to check out the merch tent and expo and soak up the pre race atmosphere. Chill, chat and enjoy the time taking in the buzz of the big race.

Ok so whats next, you’ve got the bags, what goes where..  It’s easy to remember

BLUE BAG – B for Blue, B for Bike. – Literally everything you need for the bike leg of the race, with the exception of your bike, YES your helmet goes into the blue bag and if you are racing in the UK or Ireland this year your race number (we recommend fixing to a race belt) goes into your blue bag, you are not permitted to wear under your wetsuit in the swim.  Your blue bag and bike get racked in T1 the day before your race, and no you are not permitted to rock up on race morning and rack your bike and bag! Be warned!


RED BAG: R for Red, R for Run. – Everything you need for the run course, trainers/ runners, visor
and anything you think you will need for the run section of your race. Don’t forget your sunscreen if we get a mini heatwave across race day, it has happened,  you don’t want a tri suit tan line!  Your red bag gets racked in T2 in advance of race day

WHITE BAG  – This should contain everything you plan to wear post race.  In this bag include appropriate clothing for the expected weather, plus some nice treats that you will want to enjoy once you cross the line.  You’ll savour the thoughts of your favourite treats waiting for you as you go into the final stages of the run course. Yes crisps, malteesers and a can of fanta have never tasted so good together and never will again after your race.

You bring your white bag with you on race day to T1, where you drop it off with the volunteers. IRONMAN bring this bag to the athlete village at the finish line for you while you are racing.

All the bags, how do I pack them?

Easiest way is to lay your bags on the floor/ bed, place the items you need for each section ( head to toe) on the bed / floor with the corresponding coloured bag, use the white bag for your swim gear.

Once you have gone through your personal checklist of what you need and have it laid out, take a photograph of it and send to a club mate, coach, family member or friend to have them double check you are not missing anything. You can also use this photo to calm yourself when you wake up in a panic the night before the race thinking you forgot to pack an essential piece of kit!  Once you are happy you have everything gathered, place the stickers on your bags and then pack the bags.

If you are travelling for your race it is worth packing those bags ( make your own red, blue and white bag) at home in advance of travelling to your hotel/ accommodation so you are not panicking after forgetting something. Having the bags packed leaving home means you can easily transfer your items into the official IRONMAN Red, Blue and White bags which MUST be used on race day. (You don’t have to use your white bag, but must use the red and blue bags).


Ok so now our bags are packed.. What’s next? 

It’s time to rack your bike, blue and red bags, heart rate is gone through the roof at the thought of it, but take a deep breath… and..

In an IRONMAN race your bike and bags get racked in transition before race day. Usually the day before (In some cases you can rack your red bag two days before, this differs from race to race so be sure to check the athlete guide!)

Rack your bike and blue bag in transition one (T1), your red bag gets racked in transition two (T2).  Everything is racked according to your race number, so there is space for everyone.


You do have access to your bike in T1 on race morning and for the first time this year in the UK/ IRL you also have access to your blue bag on race morning, taking some of the pre race packing freak out issues out of the equation. You generally don’t get access to your red bag on race morning unless the blue and red bags are racked together in a single transition location. (This differs from race to race be sure you know the situation for your race – check the athlete guide. )

In some races T1 & T2 are located in the same area, other times they are in what’s called a ‘split transition’ where swim and T1 are in one location, T2 is somewhere else, usually within walking distance of the finish line.

Once you have racked your bike and blue bag in T1 you will collect your timing chip, don’t forget this on race morning! It goes on your left ankle!

If T2 is in the same location then it’s logistically easier than a split transition. If it’s a split transition you need to plan to drop your red bag off at a different location to your bike and blue bag so be sure you know how to get to and from the race venues for racking. Check the athlete guide for transport options, parking and  logistics for the racking day. 

Once your bike and bag are racked, it’s time to chill, put the feet up, have some food and try to get a good night’s sleep.

But you wonder, how you get your bags after the race?

Simples… IRONMAN bring the bags to T2, your bike, blue and red bag will be available for collection from T2, so after your race stroll back there to collect them.  Your white bag will be at the finish line for you directly after your race so change into your ‘ streetwear’  enjoy your snacks and celebrate your success with family, friends and club mates before heading to collect your bike and bags. Note the opening and closing times of transition for bike and bag collection on race day in the athlete guide.

So there you have it a comprehensive guide to ensuring your race registration, bike and bag racking is as smooth and hassle free as it can be! If in doubt on any of the above refer to your specific race briefing or athlete guide! If you found this article useful, please feel free to share it!





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Meet the Author

Joanne Murphy