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Race Day Secret: No Underwear

Not undies! Neither men nor women should sport anything but their speedy race kits on race day

If you spectate any triathlon

you’ll see many colorful kits swim, ride, and run past you. Athletes of all stripes love looking their best, teammates love to match each other, and professionals need to feature their sponsor logos. Those speedsuits, tri tops, and tri shorts are designed for maximum comfort, style, and aerodynamics, but a question haunts every beginner: what’s everyone wearing under their race kits?

Not undies!

Neither men nor women should sport anything but their speedy race kits on race day, although women will wear a sports bra throughout the event. Since you’ll be swimming, biking, and running in the same outfit, you need to be as simple and quick-drying as possible. You don’t want anything soaking up water or sweat and bunching up under your tri shorts, or the bottom half of your speedsuit. Most race shorts and speed suits feature a minimal chamois, and their aerodynamics make them tight and compressive. You’ll be soaked from the swim, so anything underneath your suit would not only compromise the benefits of the garment, but would also generate horrendous chafing.

There is one exception:

when someone is doing her or his first full iron-distance event and is focused simply on finishing (which should be the goal of every debut ironman/woman), that athlete might want to conduct a full wardrobe change in the changing tent. It can be a comfort to get out of that chamois after 112 miles in the saddle, in which case you can wear whatever you like, though we do recommend keeping it simple and not dumping out a yard sale of new clothes and gear from your transition bag. Going from your speedsuit or cycling kit on the bike to a fresh top and bottom can make a huge difference as you head out on the hardest portion of the day. If you do perform a full change, this is the one place you may add undies to your day, as you’re probably used to wearing them in your normal run training. But remember! Don’t put them under your tri shorts! Those are still “no unders.”

As for bras, women will obviously have to wear a sports bra the whole race.

You might not be used to swimming in anything but a one-piece or sports bikini, so pick out something that will work during all three sports, and swim in it ahead of time. You should also consider if you might be stripping off your jersey or rolling down your speedsuit on the run, which some find necessary in hot or humid races. Are you ready to show the world what bra you’re wearing? If it’s a Wattie Ink. sports bra, we’re sure you’ll be stoked to show off the design but (as with all things racing), make sure you think this through before race day!


“Many people wear a bra under a tri suit. Some people with smaller breasts may not need or want to. However, I’d say most do. Wattie Ink. bras provide great support, a good snug fit, and quick drying properties that wick sweat away from the skin. Underwear is not meant to be worn under a tri suit or cycling chamois. Those garments are designed to be worn next to the skin to provide comfort and prevent chafing while cycling. If you do find some chafing, it helps to use a high quality chamois cream like Zealios Betwixt, or it may even mean you need a different bike saddle or bike fit”.

• Rachel McBride. 2X Canadian National Long Distance Champion, 3X Ironman 70.3 Champion

When we train,

most of us wear swimsuits in the pool, cycling bibs and jerseys on our bikes, and pretty much anything comfortable (including undies) for running. Race day demands you to wear one thing across all three sports, so whatever you do, never wear anything new on race day. Pick something out and try it in your training. If you’re used to cycling only in thick bibs, you need to ensure you’ve spent relevant mileage cycling in tri shorts or your speedsuit. The same goes for running—get some miles in that kit, so you know how it responds to movement. If you’re used to wearing a swimsuit even in open water training, try out your race kit under your wetsuit or swimskin. But you’ll notice a theme, here: no underwear! Becoming a triathlete means joining a tribe that sometimes exhibits odd behavior. Triathletes don’t wear undies—at least not on race day.


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