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How To Be a Good Triathlon Sherpa

Triathlon Training and racing can be difficult! Therefore, it helps when you have someone supportive that can help you during training and on race day itself. The person that helps us are often referred to as a triathlon sherpa. My wife is my triathlon sherpa, my number one fan, and is always there for me. Whether it be getting me hydration while I’m on the trainer for countless hours or helping me get my gear to the race.  I don’t know how I would do it without her. I’m going to share some tips on how to help support others that are training and racing.


Triathlon Training:

Being supportive of your athlete every day and not just race day can go a long way. First, I’m going to discuss what you can do while the athlete is training.

  1. 1. Allow your athlete time to train guilt-free. They already feel bad about using all this time training and missing out on other things.
  2. 2. Help them out by preparing nutritious meals that will help fuel them for all the training. This can help save more time for them and then they have more time with you.
  3. 3. Carry nutritious snacks for them. My wife has bought me a bar or something many times when on those long trainer sessions.
  4. 4. Remind them to hydrate. Athletes should be well-hydrated and a little reminder here and there goes a long way.
  5. 5. Your athlete will be greatly appreciative of any messages. All the training causes sore muscles. Not only can it help with the pain but can help aid in faster recovery.
  6. 6. When your athlete is out on a bike ride or run always have your phone near in case there is an emergency and they need help.
  7. 7. The most important is to always be supportive. They are working hard to achieve their dream and do what they love.


Leading into race day:

Leading up to a race there is a lot to be done. At this point, athletes can already feel extra stress from the upcoming race so any help is appreciated. Here are a few things you can do.

  1. 1. Help plan the logistics. If traveling to the race there is a lot that needs to be done. From planning how to get there or where to stay. Any input or help can be beneficial.
  2. 2. There is a lot of gear needed for a triathlon. Help them pack and remember everything. Not much is worse than showing up to a race and realizing you forgot something.
  3. 3. Make signs and/or t-shirts and research to find the best places on the course to cheer on your athlete.
  4. 4. Get athlete’s time estimates for each leg of the race so you have an idea of when and where you can see them.
  5. 5. After the race, there can be a lot of people at the finish line. It helps to pick a meeting spot for after the race in case you are having problems finding each other.


Race day:

On race day there is plenty that the triathlon sherpa can do to help support the athlete. The main thing is just being there for them.

  1. 1. There is a lot of gear to handle while racing. Help them get it to transition.
  2. 2. Carrying a small backpack can be very beneficial. Have some pre and post-race snacks there.
  3. 3. For yourself, carry some food and water. A battery pack phone charge can come in very handy vs trying to find a place to charge your phone on race day. If it’s a cold day carry some after-race warm clothing.
  4. 4. Be prepared to possibly have to carry a pair of shoes or flip-flops (thongs) if the athlete will require these to walk to the start.
  5. 5.  You already know the course and estimated times your athlete will be there. Cheer for them and takes lots of pictures to memorialize their achievement.


Post Race:

After the race, your athlete will probably need some attending. Especially if it was a rough day for one reason or another.

  1. 1. Attend to your athlete’s needs. It may be hard for them to move around or even communicate well. They could be dealing with pain, dehydration, or maybe sunstroke. Do whatever you can to help them start to recover.
  2. 2. Make sure they start to rehydrate and eat. This will help start the recovery process.
  3. 3. If race allows it, help them get their gear from transition. Be familiar with what they have to avoid grabbing someone else’s gear or leaving something behind.


Stuart has competed in triathlons from Sprint to Ironman distance. As a qualified Triathlon Australia, Australian Athletics Run Coach, and a certified Ironman coach, he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complementing other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments, etc.).

Contact Stuart at



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