Skip to main content


Frequently Asked Event Questions

YWCA Women’s Triathlon is better organized and more enjoyable when participants know as many details as possible.

If you don’t see an answer to your question, please email us.

What is triathlon?
Triathlon is an endurance sport that typically involves three disciplines: swimming, biking and running. There is usually a central transition area where you keep your bike and gear, and can switch between the sports. The swim-to-bike transition is often called T1 and the bike-to-run T2. Your total time, including the transitions, determines your finish place.

How does the triathlon work?
In the days before the race, you will be required to pick up your race packet, which will include your swim cap and race numbers for your bib, helmet and bike. To save time and reduce race-day stress, you may wish to put your race numbers on before you come to the race.

After parking or getting dropped off, bring your bike and race gear to the transition area. Find the bike rack that includes your race number and set up your bike and gear on that rack. Make sure your bike alternates with your neighbor (faces the opposite direction) to fit more bikes on a rack and give you the appropriate amount of space. You will then need to proceed to the timing chip tent to pick up your timing chip and get body-marked. Have your race number available. Your race number will be marked in pen on your arm, leg and hand, and your age will be marked on the back of your calf.

The transition area is where you will keep your bike and gear and “change sports.” Set up your gear in a small area next to your bike. Space in the transition area is limited; please be courteous of other athletes and don’t infringe on another person’s space. Only athletes and race officials will be allowed in the transition area. The transition area will be open from 5:45 to 7:45 am before the race. A mandatory pre-race meeting will take place on the beach at 8:00 am. During the meeting, the timing mats will be activated, so you will not be allowed back into the transition area.

There will be lifeguards on the swim course, and if you get tired, disoriented or scared, you can hang onto a boat, buoy or noodle for as long as you want without being disqualified, as long as you aren’t making forward progress. You can use any swim stroke, but swimming aids like flippers and “floaties” (unless deflated) are not permitted.

After exiting the water at the “Swim Finish,” you will return to the transition area and locate your bike. Strap on your helmet, walk or run your bike to the “Bike Out” — riding is not permitted inside the transition area — and head out on the bike course. Helmets must be worn whenever your bike is off the rack! Be sure you have a full bottle of water or sports drink on your bike.

After completing the bike course, you will return to the transition area and rack your bike in the SAME place it was before. Make sure that your race number is clearly showing on the FRONT of your body, and head out on the run at the “Run Out” exit.

When you have finished, you will be given your Finisher award. Take the time to stretch and partake of the free food and water! Join in cheering for the other participants as they finish. Finishers will not be allowed back into the transition area until the final biker has returned from the bike course and left the transition area on the run, ensuring a fair and safe event for all participants. This will take place at approximately 11:00 am.

Stay for awards and prizes! Our sponsors are providing many great raffle prizes! The awards ceremony will begin shortly after the Final Finisher crosses the finish line, and awards are scheduled for approximately 11:30 am.

What should I wear?
The primary rule is to practice in it! Do you swim well in it, does it dry quickly, is it comfortable for the bike and the run? There are a couple primary options. You may choose to wear a quick-drying sports bra under your swimsuit. You may decide to pull on shorts or a shirt after the swim. A second option is to buy a tri suit. They come as one-piece and two-piece options. They swim reasonably well but dry quickly, and have a small pad in the crotch for some comfort on the bike. If you prefer more support, you might try a tri top underneath a one-piece tri suit. Regular bike shorts are generally not recommended as they are uncomfortable for the run.

What should I wear if I normally cover my ankles, wrists and hair as part of my culture or religion?

We recommend sport-specific hijabs and swimwear that is close-fitting enough to be safe and loose enough to adhere to religious observations (like a burkini). The athlete must also wear a race-issued swim cap OVER the head covering during the swim portion per USAT rules due to safety considerations.

Is there medical support?
If you require medical assistance during the race, visit the medical tent by the finish line. It is staffed by volunteer doctors and staff from the Allina Health, the official medical team of the YWCA Women’s Triathlon. In addition, medical staff will be on the course and emergency services on notice.

Do I need to inform you if I have a health concern or medical condition that may present an issue while on the course?
We do not require that you disclose any private health information to race. However, if there is something that may be of concern to you or our medical team, we ask that you contact us or share that information in the “Medical Information” section of the registration. For example, a heart condition or previous heart incident, or pregnancy may warrant a little extra attention.

What accommodations do you provide for athletes with cognitive, sensory, physical or learning disabilities?
We are a USAT-designated para-friendly course and are eager to bring more adaptive athletes into the sport. We ask that any athlete with a designated disability or a specific health concern to contact our team as soon as possible so that we may work together on accommodations.

USAT Triathlon offers resources and guidance for adaptive athletes (also known as paratriathletes) who are just getting into the sport.

How can I contact YWCA Minneapolis?
YWCA Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon
2121 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55407


Is there a wait list?
There is no wait list available in 2023. Please join our Facebook page. Participants can post if they would like to transfer before August 3, 2023.

Can I get a refund? What if the race is canceled?

Our race does not offer deferrals or refunds. We cannot offer refunds if the race is canceled due to situations beyond the control of YWCA Minneapolis.

We know unforeseen medical circumstances occur. Please purchase race insurance if you would like to protect your race. You may also opt to transfer your bib to another racer on or before August 3, 2023.  Transfers not completed by this date will not be valid.

Can I transfer my race registration or change my distance?
All registration changes are due by August 3, 2023 at 11:59 pm. No exceptions. These include:

  • Category changes: Click here for a tutorial. You may change your category in your race registration (i.e. individual to a buddy group). It is $5 per change, and you may change as many times as you prefer. This applies for distance changes as well.
  • Transfers to another athlete: Click here for a tutorial. You may transfer your race to another participant at any time in your race registration. It is $5 per transfer. The transfer must be complete by August 3, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.  Transfers initiated but not completed will not be valid after August 3, 2023.

When is packet pickup?
Packet pickup is Saturday, August 12, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at 5001 Lake Nokomis Pkwy, Minneapolis MN 55417.

If you cannot pick up your packet in the Saturday time window, please add on “Day of Packet Pick Up” to your registration. Click here for a simple tutorial. If you choose this option, we will make sure your packet and bib are assigned and ready on race day.  Packet pickup on the morning of race day (August 13, 2023) is 6:00 – 7:00 am. If you did not choose this option prior to August 12, you may have to wait longer and will also be charged $20 on the day of. If you arrive later than 7:00 am, you risk not receiving your race number and chip.

You cannot pick up packets for other racers.  Relays will be assigned a designated captain. This is typical for triathlon, and we will not bend the rules.

To streamline participant experience, most bibs will be assigned at packet pickup on August 12, 2023. We will assign numbers upon check-in. If you have friends in your age group, there is a high likelihood you may be able to rack your bikes together if you check in together. Buddy Groups will be pre-assigned in order to race together.

What are the age restrictions?

There are no upper age limit restrictions. For the sprint category the minimum age is 14. For the SuperSprint the minimum age is 11. All participants’ ages are calculated as of Dec 31, 2023.

What is a Buddy Group?
A “Buddy Group” is a two or more people who would like to race together. After the initial registrant creates a team, everyone who would like to race together can join the team upon registration. Buddies will start the race together and be allowed to rack their bikes together in transition. Athletes in this category will be eligible for individual prizes, but no prizes will be given to the buddy group. All participants will do the full distance they registered for. This category is good for people who want to experience the race together.

Note: Buddy Groups will be placed in transition next to each other and will start the race together (you will not be in your age group). Staying together for the rest of the race is up to you – but make sure to follow all biking rules and do NOT ride in a group, side-by-side or draft off one another.

What is a Family Team?
A Family Team is two people who want to compete as a team together such as sisters, mothers, nieces, aunts, wives and partners. Prizes will be given out to the top three family teams.

What is a Relay?
Two or three people will divide and conquer the three legs of the triathlon race. One person can complete 1 or 2 legs or split the distance between three separate racers. This option is available in the sprint distance category only.

Can I create a corporate team or group?
Yes, please reach out to us at to help you get started.

What is a YWCA Triathlon Scholarship?
YWCA Minneapolis offers scholarships to first-time YWCA triathlon athletes who want to participate but may not have the money in their budget for extra event expenses. The scholarship includes one race entry and a class of the participants choice to learn skills needed to participate in the race.

Who is considered? What are the qualifications?
We will consider athletes who have never participated in our race before. We do not ask for financial documents, but we would like you to tell us your story about why you are inspired to try our race.

How do I apply?
Click HERE to apply. Submissions are reviewed on a rolling basis for a limited number of scholarships, and the deadline to apply is June 15. Please direct any questions to We will notify you if you are selected.

What kind of timing will you use?
We will be using chip timing, professionally managed by MTEC.

What is chip timing?
An RFID chip encoded with the athlete’s name and race number is attached to a strap that the athlete must wear securely around her ankle. A “scanner,” located under mats and positioned at each transition (swim finish, bike start, bike finish, run start and run finish), “reads” the chip and records the time as each athlete steps on the mat. Each timing chip is very valuable. Replacement cost in case of loss is the athlete’s responsibility and is $30.

For this reason, athletes must be careful to always cross the mats at each transition and the finish. In addition, an athlete who starts in any wave after the first swim wave begins must take care not to step on a mat in or around the transition area accidentally as she waits for her wave to begin. For this reason, athletes are not allowed back in the transition area after the pre-race meeting, as the mats are activated.

Can I wear the chip wherever I want as long as I have it with me?
No. The strap with the timing chip should be worn on the left ankle. Wearing it on an ankle helps ensure that its signal is properly read when you cross a timing mat. The left ankle is important because if it is on the right ankle, it may rub or get caught on your bike’s chain ring.

If I lose my chip, will I be timed for the race?
If you lose your chip before the race starts, see race personnel to see if a replacement chip is available. You will be billed for the $30 replacement cost of the chip. There are backup manual timers; however, it is impossible for them to always catch every participant. Thus, if you do not have a chip during the race, please do not expect to be timed.

I’m a first-timer. Can I really do this race?
We encourage all potential athletes to have a complete physical examination prior to beginning training for a triathlon. Provided that your physician has approved your participation, most amateur women will be able to complete this race in 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Most women — even inexperienced athletes — should be able to prepare adequately with a minimum of 12 weeks of training.

What is the best way to train for my first triathlon?
There is not a “best” way to train because everyone has different levels of experience, schedules to accommodate, strengths, weaknesses and goals. We provide a beginner, 12-week training plan each year that you may wish to modify to meet your needs. This training plan is designed to be a solid, beginner program that, if followed, will help you arrive to the start line confident and prepared. We also encourage you to incorporate other training support.

Can I be placed in the same wave as my friend/mom/sister/training partner?
Yes. You may request to be placed in the Buddy Wave, which will be the last wave to start. The deadline to do this is August 3, 2023 at 11:59 pm. If you are in the same age group, it is possible that you will be in the same age group wave, and can request this.

How is my wave assigned?
There are three wave categories; Elite, Age Group and Buddy. The Elite wave starts first and is generally for athletes vying for overall awards. The age group waves are organized by the participants’ ages. Larger age groups may be split into more than one wave. Smaller age groups may be combined with other age groups. The Buddy wave is for participants who want to start with a friend. The buddy waves will go last.

How many people will be in my wave?
Wave numbers are approximate and are assigned to facilitate timing and ensure accuracy and safety. Athletes will enter the water via a time-trial start, meaning that only 3-4 athletes will go into the water at five-second intervals. Waves with more athletes will take longer to enter the water.

When will the wave assignments be finalized?
Waves will be finalized at packet pickup. The wave schedule will also be available at packet pickup. If last-minute adjustments and fine-tuning are necessary, we reserve the right to make changes.

What time does my wave start?
Wave estimated timelines will be posted in the race guide. The race begins at 8:10 am, and it will take up to 75 minutes for everyone to enter the water.

What is the water temperature?
The average water temperature of Lake Nokomis in mid-August is approximately 77-78 degrees.

Do I need a wetsuit?
No. But if you are a novice swimmer, you will find that a wetsuit can provide you a great deal of buoyancy, thus potentially enhancing your comfort in the water. Wetsuits are legal and allowed for all athletes when the water is below 78 degrees. USAT rules also state that if the water temperature is between 78.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards. We will take the temperature race morning.

Can I rent a wetsuit?
Yes, Gear West Bike & Triathlon rents wetsuits from Wednesday to the following Tuesday. The wetsuits are first-come, first-serve!

Can I use any stroke in the swim portion?

How deep is the water?
The water is between 10 and 25 feet deep in most areas of the swim.

What additional equipment will be permitted in the swim?
Aqua socks, masks and goggles are allowed. (Most triathletes wear goggles). However, flippers and flotation devices are strictly prohibited.

Can I rest on something during the swim?
Yes. You may hold on to a lifeguard’s board,  or a Noodle Swimmer’s noodle. You will not be disqualified as long as they do not provide you forward motion. We offer a white “novice” swim cap if you feel you may need extra lifeguard eyes or feel anxiety surrounding the swim.

Do you have any tips for a successful swim?
Practice early and often. Start your swim journey with lessons or practicing in a pool at your own speed. We have over 40 volunteers and staff on the swim course with noodles and kayaks to help support our swimmers. Aquatic safety is a key element of this race. Try open water at the beginning of the season. Practice first where you can touch and abide by all posted signs. Always swim with a buddy or in a guarded area. If swimming in deep water use an open water swim buoy for safety and visibility. Please swim in a lake before the race. It is a very different experience than swimming in a pool, even for former competitive swimmers. Take classes or sign up for a lake race! YWCA Minneapolis offers lessons and open water clinics, Minnesota Masters hosts lake races and Minneapolis Park Board hosts open swim club.

What if I have a flat tire on the bike course?
Learn how to fix a flat tire by yourself before the race. If you don’t have a friend who can teach you, watch for free flat tire clinics at our bike partner, The Hub Bike Co-op. If you are unable to fix it yourself, walk to a volunteer at an intersection. They will contact one of our vehicles, which can try to help you fix the flat or transport you and your bike back.

Is the bike course hilly?
The course has only a few short and moderate hills. We still strongly recommend that you are familiar with your bike’s gearing to be prepared for the hills, wind and your energy level.

Can I use a tandem or recumbent bike in the race?
Yes, but only with a documented medical condition. Please contact us if you plan to use a tandem or recumbent bike. All other athletes may use use any regular upright road, triathlon, hybrid or mountain bike. A road or tri bike is much faster and saves a lot of energy. However, many first-time triathletes use a mountain bike because that is what is available to them. If you ride a mountain bike, we recommend you replace the knobby tires with smooth and skinnier tires (sometimes called slicks).

Do I have to get my bike inspected?
No, but we strongly urge you to be familiar with how to care for your bike or have it tuned up regularly. Many people experience technical problems on race day that could have been easily avoided. You are responsible for your bike’s safety and maintenance. Our partners at The Hub Bike Co-op offer a pre-race tune-up based on availability.

Are there specifications for the bike helmets?
Yes, the bike helmet must be ANSI-, CPSC- or SNELL-certified. Please confirm this by checking for a sticker indicating its certification on the inside of the helmet.

Can I rent a bike?
Not many local shops rent bikes, but Gear West Bike & Triathlon has a bike rental program. Check their website for more information and make reservations early. If you are a novice, we would caution you from using equipment that you have not used in training.

Do I need cycling shoes? And clipless pedals?
Many participants will choose to wear their running shoes for the bike with platform pedals. They may use toe clips to help hold their foot on the pedal and gain some power from pulling up, especially helpful on a hilly course. It also makes for a fast transition from bike to run because you don’t have to change shoes, and our T2 (the bike-to-run transition) has a long section where you have to run your bike. Running your bike can be challenging in slippery cycling shoes.

However, cycling shoes can dramatically improve power transfer to the pedals. One of the main differences is that they have a stiff sole. The purpose of this is so the shoe doesn’t flex when you push down. A running shoe will flex, causing you to lose power with every stroke and causing your foot muscles to tire for the run. It is common for triathletes who wear running shoes on the bike to get foot cramps or have sore feet for the run or after the race.

It is possible to buy a flatter cycling shoe with a recessed cleat that makes it easier to walk or run your bike in the transition area. These tend to be touring shoes and are usually heavier. If you didn’t want to get clipless pedals, however, a shoe like this could work on a platform pedal with toe clips. You would get the benefit of a stiff sole shoe and be able to negotiate both transitions more easily. These shoes usually have laces rather than Velcro closures, so you might want to consider elastic laces for a quicker transition.

Consider attending the YWCA’s Tri Race Skills clinic to help you figure out the best technique and gear for you.

Can we draft in the Buddy Wave?
No. Drafting on the bike is against USA Triathlon rules for both safety and fairness. Most buddies just want to be together in the transition area and be in the same wave for camaraderie and support, but do most of the race by themselves. Some buddies try to stay together and will wait for each other after the swim. They may stay together during the bike, but must stay far enough apart to not be drafting (three bike lengths between), and may not ride side by side (as this blocks other riders).

Is the run hilly?
The run uses the paths around Lake Nokomis and in the park, and is very flat.

Are there water stations?
Yes. There is a water station right out of the transition area and on the course.

When will I be able to access the transition area?
The transition area is located in the south parking lot, near the south beach swim start. It will be open from 5:45 to 7:45 am and from approximately 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Can my friend help set up my transition area?
Only participants and race officials will be allowed in the transition area. So, yes, they may if they are also competing.

When does the transition area close?
Before the race starts, the transition area closes at 7:45 am, regardless of what wave you are in. All equipment must be in by 7:45 am. All participants will be required to be at the swim start for a pre-race meeting at 8:00 am. You will not be allowed to return to the transition area after the pre-race meeting because the timing mats will be activated. Swimmers in the early waves will also soon be coming through.

What time will the transition area re-open?
The transition area will re-open when the final biker has completed the bike course and has set out on the run. You will need to show your bib number in order to re-enter the transition area. We will estimate this time in pre-race materials. Transition area closes at 1:00 pm, when we will begin to break down the transition area. We are not responsible for any equipment left after this time.

Why do I have to wait to claim my gear from the transition area after I finish racing?
The transition area is closed to all but racers-in-progress until the final athlete has headed out on the run course. This is in fairness and safety to all participants. It is not safe, respectful or encouraging to participants in later heats who are still racing to have others blocking their path in the transition area. If you are an early finisher, we invite you to spend your time cheering on your fellow athletes, having good eats by the lake, relaxing with a massage and generally enjoying your accomplishment and the post-race festivities.

Can I use decorations, such as balloons, to mark my spot in the transition area?
Yes, we love it! But they should not interfere with anyone else being able to easily and safely access their equipment. We reserve the right to remove any materials that will interfere with the safety and security of our competitors and their equipment.

YWCA Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon complies with USA Triathlon rules. All racers are required to know and abide by USA Triathlon Rules. View the most frequently violated rules here. Consider checking out YWCA Minneapolis’ Rules, Regulations, Race Ettiquette free class.