Long-course triathlete Sam Betten shares his tips for racing overseas and how best to prepare for the journey.
One of the more unique things about the sport of triathlon is the opportunity it gives us to travel to races around the world and experience other countries. These experiences on race day for triathletes are something so unique to our sport in that we see a place from below the water in the swim leg, on land at speed from our bikes, and then on foot during the run leg.
With these opportunities of travelling to events all over the world you want to ensure that it is as stress free as possible by making sure you are well prepared prior to leaving. The worst situation that I have heard of is a triathlete arriving in a foreign country without a pre-approved visitor’s Visa and then being put back onto the next plane home to Australia. This all could have been avoided by a simple search on smarttraveller.com.au and a bit of pre-planning. Apart from the obvious Visa applications, which are required for entry into countries such as China, USA and Vietnam, there are also some more specific travel advice that is relevant to triathletes. In the last issue of TMSM, I broke down the specifics of travelling with a bike and how best to avoid oversize baggage, which can often be the biggest hurdle.
One big point to consider when travelling is your nutritional needs and making sure that you are prepared for race day. When travelling overseas, you need to ensure that you take with you all of your race nutrition needs such as energy gels, bars, sports drink powder, etc. Often these specialised nutritional products are not readily available in other countries. This may also extend to additional snacks to help keep you fuelled in the lead-up to race day. Whenever I travel I also take with me the Musashi Immune nutrition product to help boost my immune system, which can often become depleted during long haul travel. This ensures that my immune system stays strong. Typically you will be travelling to races when you are in a ‘tapering off’ training period getting ready to race and this is when your immune system is often at its weakest. This is why it is even more important to stay on top of this, as the last thing you want when travelling overseas for an event is to get sick in the lead-up to race day.
It is also important to stay well hydrated during longer flights as you can quite easily become dehydrated. This will in turn set your race day performance back before you have even started the race. In many countries the water quality is not up to the same standard as Australia and therefore I always believe that it is a good idea to only drink bottled water – even when brushing your teeth – to avoid even the smallest chance of getting sick. In regards to this, it is also important to remember that the ice given out at the aid stations on the run course is often just frozen tap water and ingesting this could potentially cause some post-race stomach issues.
Travelling overseas to a triathlon event and getting the opportunity to race in a different country is something that is an amazing experience. However, a certain level of extra preparation is required to get the most out of your experience. Preparation is the key and the difference between a positive experience of a good race and a negative one, which can often be avoided even before you get onto the plane.