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Guide to Triathlon

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Everyone can take part in a triathlon. You don’t need to be super-fast – it is a very inclusive sport, and people are always willing to help new participants set up their transition area. Triathlons always follow a swim, bike, run pattern. All you need is a bike and be able to swim.

If you want to try out a triathlon later this year, I suggest joining a club favourite race the HSV tri on 12 September. It is a pool-based triathlon, which is held at Hatfield Sports Village, a short drive up the A1. Several club members will be there and can help with setting up your transition are etc. Details:


Triathlon lengths

The are a range of different lengths for triathlon. Most people start out with a short distance one such as a pool-based sprint: 400m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run. An open water sprint typically has a 750m swim.


Many triathletes wear a trisuit, which can be used in the swim, cycle and run without having to change. However, it is possible to swim in a swim costume and then change into a top for cycling and running. A road-worthy bike is essential, and a helmet must be worn at all times you are touching the bike. For running, many triathletes use elastic laces to speed up transitions. Here are some more ideas of what you need to bring with you: https://humanrace.co.uk/article/what-to-bring-triathlon/


Triathlons can either start with a pool or open water swim. Breaststroke is fine for swimming, if you can’t swim front crawl. In open water wetsuits are usually required (unless the water is too hot). Open water swims go around a series of buoys, which means you need to practice sighting – ie to see where you are going. Pool triathlons usually go up and down lanes ducking under the lane rope to work your way from one end of the pool to the other.

Transition 1

At the end of the swim, you will need to remove your wet suit (if worn), put on your helmet and cycle shoes and head off with your bike. There will be a line where you mount your bike once you leave the transition area. Always wear your helmet even when pushing the bike. The wetness from the swim will dry very quickly once you are on the bike, so no real need to towel yourself dry. But you might just want to stand on a towel to dry your feet.


The most important thing to watch out for in the cycle leg is to try and avoid drafting behind other cyclists. There will often be marshals on the course to make sure you are not. Essentially you need to stay 10-12m behind another cyclist unless you are overtaking them. This is a useful visual guide: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/britain/documents/events/competition-rules/british-triathlon—drafting-rules-explained-2018.pdf

Transition 2

This is where you change into your run gear for the final leg. Elastic laces are a good way to get your trainers on without having to tie your laces! Watch out when you are dismounting your bike at the dismount line before transition. This is a common area for accidents.

Run leg

You may find that when you start your run, you have jelly legs from the bike leg. This is quite normal and will dissipate over the first km or so. Doing so-called brick sessions in training can help you get used to that feeling. It can sometimes be difficult to judge your run pace after the cycle leg, but just settle into your pace gradually.

Contact [email protected] for more info.