The Ultimate Multisport Bucket List

By Sarah Wassner Flynn | Jan. 17, 2019, 5:20 p.m. (ET)

Find your tribe

Ask the average triathlete what’s at the top of his or her multisport bucket list, and you’ll likely hear the K word.

Yes, that would be Kona.

As in the IRONMAN World Championship held every October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Which is admirable and all, if you are among the tiny percentage of triathletes around the world who can qualify to get there.

Indeed, this is a sport where we do dream big. But big doesn’t always have to equate to world championship berths. Here, we offer a more attainable — and perhaps even more meaningful — list of triathlon to-do’s. 

Race Local (And Often) 

At the same time, there is probably a race or two right in your hometown — or at least an easy drive away. Not only are local competitions convenient (think no extra time off work … no hotel … no bike fees!), but they also support local businesses and can foster a deeper sense of community. And it’s a heck of a lot easier for your family and friends to come cheer you on in a nearby triathlon as opposed to somewhere a plane ride away. 

Encourage a Newbie

We’ve all been a clueless rookie at one point. At one of my very first triathlons, a stranger kindly offered me her extra gels after noticing I hadn’t packed any fuel. That simple but generous gesture still resonates with me years later. So chat up your rack mate who looks lost setting up his transition area. Offer an extra hand to someone struggling to get into her wetsuit, or a hug to that person standing at the water’s edge with fear written across his face. You can even take it a step further and become a mentor for beginners in your tri club. Find a way to pay it forward. It’s an investment you’ll never regret. 

Set a PR in Every Age Group 

There’s no hard and fast rule that your personal records have to reflect the fastest you’ve ever gone ... ever. I know I will never be as speedy as I was 10 years and three kids ago. But at 39, I can probably beat my 37-year-old self. The beautiful thing about triathlon is that we almost always compete against others in our age group. So why should our PRs reflect our much younger selves? Toss the notion of “older is slower” out the window and aim to beat your best from whatever age group you’re in. And when you bump up to a new division? Totally clean slate. Bonus!

Race Cation

Plan An Epic Race-Cation 

Always dreamed of visiting Dubai? Why not do a triathlon while you’re at it? The beauty of this sport is that there are competitions virtually everywhere in the world, save for a few cities. Whether you’re itching to explore the Middle East, pedal your way up Alpe d’Huez, or run through a rainforest, there’s a destination race out there for you. Besides, a race T-shirt and finisher medal are the kind of travel keepsakes you’d actually, well, keep. 

Mix Up the Format (or the Distance) 

Don’t get me wrong: I love triathlon and everything about it. But last year, I raced the aquathlon (that’s a fancier name for a swim-run race) and instantly found a new niche. While I missed my bike, I definitely did not lose any sleep worrying about my tires losing air in transition overnight. Playing around in new-to-you distances and formats is super fun and keeps the motivation fresh. And now I know I can always fall back on swim-runs if this whole triathlon thing doesn’t work out. 

Nail That Race Photo

It’s a few days after your triathlon, you excitedly log on to the race photographer’s website expecting to see a gallery of glamorous pics. Instead, you’re welcomed with images that you’d prefer to be scrubbed off the internet immediately. Sound familiar? Yeah, been there. That’s why, if only once in your lifetime, you should aim to absolutely nail that race photo. Stand up straighter and smile as soon as that photographer is in your purview. Throw your hands up at the finish line and celebrate like you’ve won the whole thing. And when you do get that one perfect photo? Buy it. Frame it. Make it your profile pic for all eternity … at least until you take another amazing one. 

Find Your Tribe

From the outset, multisport is an individual pursuit. But it doesn’t have to be a completely solo venture. Joining a club or team (check out usatriathlon.org/findaclub for groups local to you) or creating your own triathlon tribe can make everything from workouts to races to post-race celebrations that much better. Because ultimately, the relationships formed through triathlon transcend training and racing. They become your people, not just your swim, bike and run buddies.

Volunteer this year

Give Back 

No race is possible without a crew of volunteers. As much as we love to race, it can be just as satisfying to support the event from the sidelines. Flip the script of your typical race weekend and sign up to check in, body mark, or hand out orange slices. Yes, you may feel a twinge of FOMO as racers go streaming by. But think about it:  When you’re making someone else’s race experience more enjoyable, are you really missing out? 

Race For a Greater Purpose 

Give a race a greater sense of purpose by using it as a vehicle to fundraise for a charity — or simply dedicate your race to a loved one. Not only can you create awareness for a cause close to your heart, but you’ll have extra motivation to fight even harder to the finish line. Need somewhere to start? Check out Team in Training (www.teamintraining.org), Team Challenge (crohnscolitisfoundation.org/get-involved/team-challenge.html) and the USA Triathlon Foundation (usatriathlonfoundation.org).

Stay for the Final Finisher 

We’ve all got places to go and things to do after a race. But at least once, plan to stick around the finisher’s chute until the bitter end. No matter if it’s an IRONMAN or a sprint, every person who completes the event should be welcomed with fanfare. So stay and cheer in that final competitor like he or she is the absolute rockstar champion. Because in so many ways, they are.