How to organise a triathlon

Want to organise a triathlon but not sure where to start? Here's experienced event organiser and triathlete Georgie Rutherford with some key advice

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The UK triathlon scene has a thriving calendar of triathlon events. All these events range in distance, size, purpose and locations but what they will have in common is that behind them will be a team of people organising everything for the competitors to be able to take part.


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Event organisers usually start planning a year, to 9 months out from the chosen date. Planning will come in stages and from my experience organisers will create a timeline or checklist broken in to the different phases; pre, during, post. An example of some of the key things that might be included in each of these is shown in the table below.

There is ONE key thing every event has in common and that is team work. No one person can do everything and in order to be successful you must draw on skills from a range of people. Event work requires long, exhausting hours but this can be made fun and productive if you all ‘muck in’. My moto was to lead by example and I would ensure that when I could, I would not just walk around delegating on the radio but get stuck in doing the menial event jobs that no one wants to do such as emptying the bins, re stocking the smelly portable loos with toilet roll, rolling up wet swim buoys…the list goes on!

Alan Rose, owner of Just Racing and event director for this summer’s Ironman Weymouth events  offers some wise words and says it is all about the 3 P’s; preparation, preparation and preparation. Alan goes on to say his number 1 priority that underpins EVERYTHING is athlete safety, “It is normally the things that can’t be seen that cost the most in terms of money and time invested.”

Organising events is very rewarding but it is certainly not an easy, problem free job. I would say all event directors require a few key traits;

1 Resilience – things will go wrong. The key thing is managing them in a calm and controlled manner as possible. Some things can be rectified and this is where detailed risk assessments and contingency planning will help. For example, bad weather – will you need to cancel a section of your event or delay starts, an incident on your course – re routing competitors

2 Patience

3 Good communication

4 Endurance and energy

5 Delegation – as good as you might be, you can not do everything and you will need to gain outside help from others, usually just as keen and enthusiastic as you.

Oh and something 99% of event organisers will agree on, a go to for all event sites is good coffee – often the anticipation takes away the hunger!


As well as being an experienced triathlete Georgie has worked as a volunteer at club events, organised some junior triathlons in the North East, and worked on large scale events including the ITU Hyde Park triathlons from 2009 up to & including the London Olympics, and more recently as Event Director for Windsor Triathlon and the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon