Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a triathlon?
Swim, Bike, Run! A triathlon consists of those three events in that order. Between each leg of the race is a quick "transition" where you change any clothing and equipment if necessary. Traditionally, the swim portion takes place in open water, such as in a bay or lake, but in our collegiate races, it often is in a swimming pool.

I don't have a decent bike. Can I still be on the team?
Absolutely! At the beginning of the season, don't worry about it. Any bike will do. Many of the triathletes currently on the team started on campus or mountain bikes. As you start training, you may decide that you want to upgrade to a better road bike. If you are going to use your campus bike, we ask that you make sure your bike is in safe operating condition (particularly the wheels and brakes). And, no matter what bike you use, you must wear a helmet on all rides.

How do I find a new bike?
You'll be keeping up with the pack a lot easier on a road bike: road bikes are much lighter and have thin tires that are inflated to high pressures to reduce rolling resistance. The Stanford Triathlon Team is sponsored by Specialized Bicycles, who make good bikes of all varieties and price ranges. They offer team members high quality bikes at a generous discount. All that is required of you is that you pay dues and complete your club jobs. The best way to find a bike for you is to talk to a lot of people and take advantage of the knowledge at the bike shops. Start with a visit to the team sponsor, Menlo Velo. If you aren't ready to take the plunge and buy a new road bike, the campus bike shop rents good bikes out at reasonable prices.

What other equipment do I need?
For swimming, you need your swimsuit and a pair of goggles. (If you're a guy, don't worry; speedos aren't required.) For running, you just need a decent pair of running shoes. You can find all this equipment at Sports Basement- discounts apply for team members.

I can't really swim. Can I still be on the team?
No problem. At the beginning of the year, we spend time during swim practices focusing on basic technique and form. There is always a wide range of swimming abilities on the team, so, no matter what your skill level is, you won't feel out of place.

I'm pretty good at two of the sports, but I struggle in the third. Is that ok?
Yes, that's what we're here for! We'll teach you the basics of swimming, biking, and running and we'll help you improve if you already have a strong background in these events. All athletes, including those on our team, have both strengths and weaknesses - we don't expect you to be any different.

When are practices?
During the academic year, we generally have 1 or 2 team practices per day, with one recommended off day per week. On most days, we practice only 1 of the 3 sports, but once or twice per week we combine 2 of the 3 sports, typically biking and running. In general, the swim practices will be in the morning before class, and the bike rides and runs will be in the afternoon and on weekends. The up-to-date practice schedule is the first place to look for the workout schedule.

How much of a time commitment is it?
However much you want it to be! Although we encourage you to come to as many practices as you can (since it's so fun and we like seeing your face), nobody will give you an evil glare if you can't make it out.

The team seems kind of hard-core. What if I want to train and get in shape but not race?
That's totally fine. You won't be pressured to race, just practicing with the team is a great way to get in shape, have fun, and meet a bunch of cool people. Maybe later down the road you'll decide to take advantage of our discounted races (for team members) and try one out.

What are the club requirements?
We ask that you fill out a few forms, pay membership dues, and give your best effort at each practice. Since we are a club sport and do all of our own fundraising, we also ask that you do 1 or 2 team jobs per quarter. See our "Getting Started" page for more details on forms, dues, and jobs.

How long is each leg of a triathlon?
It varies... The collegiate National Championship race is Olympic distance, which means a 0.93-mile (1.5 km) swim, 24.8-mile (40 km) bike and 6.2 mile (10 km) run. Most of our races, though, are Sprint distance, which is approximately half of the Olympic distance. Those of you whose weakest event is swimming should note that the swim leg is almost always the shortest event in terms of time!

Does the team travel?
We are part of the new West Coast Collegiate Triathlon Conference, and winter quarter, we will travel around CA to go to races hosted by other teams in our conference. We also have our own race, the Stanford Treeathlon, which will be held in February or March. In April, the strongest racers will travel to the Collegiate National Championship race to compete against the best of the best from around the country.

Tell me a little about the people on the team.
We come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some of us swam, biked or ran at some earlier time in our lives. Some of us had no experience in any of the three sports. The team is approximately evenly divided between men and women. Also, there is a huge range of ages: we have many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as some employees of Stanford.

Who is allowed to join?
All members of the Stanford community are welcome - that includes students, alumni, faculty, staff, and their spouses.

Does the team hang out together outside of practice?
Definitely. We periodically have team parties and social functions, perfect for team bonding. We want to emphasize team coherence this year, since a team that has fun together is a team that races well together!

How do I get help if I need it?
Subscribe to the triathlon mailing list (send an e-mail to to get all the team announcements. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email the list and ask. You'll probably receive more advice than you could ever need! Or if you don't want to e-mail the whole list, you can e-mail our New Member Coordinator.