Welcome, Parents and Guardians!

Thank you for supporting the youth triathletes in your life by continuing to provide the necessary tools and guidance needed for them to succeed. It is a sport that encompasses three disciplines, so your children have the opportunity to explore their options and not be bound to one activity. Participating in swimming, cycling, and running will provide many valuable skills for young athletes, some of which are: coordination, balance, discipline, focus, participation, cooperation, and leadership.


There are many important aspects to the sport that are important for both you and your children to know. This guide has been developed to assist new and experienced parents and guardians to continue to support the growth and development of youth athletes in the sport of triathlon.


Although there is information specific to triathlon in this guide, not all of the information you will read is specific to triathlon exclusively; there is information in this guide that can be carried through to other sports such as sportsmanlike conduct. We encourage you to go through the contents of this guide with your children.


We look forward to seeing you throughout the racing season! We are more than happy to address any questions or concerns that you may have so please feel free to contact the Triathlon  Alberta office at: coordinator@triathlonalberta.ca, or 780-427-8616.

How does a triathlon work?


There are three disciplines in a triathlon: a swim, a bike, and a run. In between the swim and the bike portion there is a section of the event called a “transition” (known as T1) and in between the bike and the run there is another transition (known as T2). The transition zone is an area for athletes to move from one sport into the next.


Inside the transition zone for T1, the athletes’ bikes are stored on bike racks (take note of where you take your bike from, as it will need to be returned to this spot in T2). After completing the swim, individuals make their way into the transition zone where they must put on their helmets (make sure that chin straps are fastened before beginning the bike section of the event) and walk/run their bike out of the transition zone so that it can be mounted at the MOUNT/DISMOUNT line. If athletes mount their bikes before the indicated MOUNT/DISMOUNT line, they will receive a penalty.


In T2, individuals must dismount their bicycle at the DISMOUNT line and return their bike to the same place on the bike rack where they originally got it from in T1. Then they can continue on with their run to complete the event!

What are the distances of a triathlon?


The distance of each event varies, however there are limitations for event distances depending on the age of participants. In Alberta, the rules and regulations are in place under the Kids of Steel (KOS) program, Triathlon Canada, and Triathlon Alberta . For a complete set of KOS Rules and Guidelines, please visit KOS Rules and Guidelines. See the maximum event distances for children (varying by age) according to KOS Guidelines.

Other forms of multisport events

Not everyone is a fan of all three disciplines of a triathlon; however, there are other multisport events available that only encompass two of the three activities in a triathlon.

Run, Bike, Run

Run, Swim, Run

The swim can take place indoors or outdoors, depending on the venue that the event is being held at. The run and the bike traditionally take place in an outdoor setting. 

Good to know before entering an event


No forward movement can be conducted using the bottom, walls, or lane ropes. Athletes can stop to rest by standing up, however they cannot make any forward progress during this resting period. Flippers and/or any propulsion devices are prohibited.


All athletes are required to wear helmets. Athletes are not allowed to draft (unless the event is explicitly titled “draft-legal”). Drafting is the action of riding directly beside or behind another athlete and it can cause a competitive advantage (hence why it is not allowed)!


Walking, jogging, and running are permitted – but no crawling!

What to wear

Athletes must have their chest and stomach covered for the bike and run portions of the event. 

What equipment should you bring to a race?

  • Swimsuit
  • Swim goggles
  • Swim cap
  • Wetsuit (the use of wetsuits is up to the Race Director – you should ask before the race)
  • Bicycle or Tricycle (in accordance with the appropriate guidelines)
  • Bicycle helmet
  • Racing shirt (for the bike and run – keep that torso covered!)
  • Shorts
  • Competitor’s Bib/Number
  • Running shoes
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen

Events normally provide

  • Competitor’s Bib/Number
  • Swim Cap
  • Basic rules
  • Course map/outline

Key individuals at events

Race Director (RD)

The Race Director (RD) is the individual who designs and organizes the entire event. The RD is one of the busiest individuals on race day.


Technical Officials

Officials are responsible for ensuring the safety and fairness of the event by enforcing the rules and guidelines of KOS, Triathlon Canada, Triathlon Alberta, and International Triathlon Union (ITU). Officials are also very busy on race day.

Sportsmanlike Conduct

It is important to emphasize some of the etiquette and key aspects of participating in the sport of triathlon. All events are designed to be safe, fun, and fair and it is important that athletes help to maintain this standard by following rules and regulations. It is of utmost importance to be respectful to athletes, officials, volunteers, spectators, and anyone else. Abusive language and foul play can result in disqualification from an event. Athletes should also be supportive and encouraging to their peers at all times!

Please be kind, courteous, gracious athletes and remember to have fun!

Tips for Supporters

We encourage you to walk your children through the race course the night before the event. It is important for your children to be familiarized with the course so that they are able to participate comfortably.

Show that you are proud by being loud! Cowbells, noisemakers, and signs are encouraged at all events! The louder you are, the more motivated the athletes will be. Just ensure that you are being appropriate and mindful of the other spectators and event participants.

Be at the finish line to greet the triathlete(s) you are supporting! A vital component to the races that take place each year is the support systems that exist. Cheering athletes on, and urging them to take that one more stride can help them cross the finish line!

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