First Timers

Thinking about doing your first triathlon but not sure where to start?

We have taken a moment to put together some information below about the what/how/why of Half distance triathlon races all in the aim to give you the details you need to know to succeed!

The Tauranga Half is the perfect first timers course for many reasons such as being a flat course, which is very forgiving. There are amazing supporters lining the course and stunning scenery! Not to mention a great athlete recovery lounge – which is well deserved! If you are thinking of doing your first long distance race – take a closer look at the Tauranga Half, New Zealand’s longest standing half, achieving 30 years in 2019!

Click a question below to read the answer

What is a triathlon?
A triathlon is a multisport event that involves a swim, a bike and a run, generally in that order.  There are other events that fall under the triathlon discipline such as duathlon which involves running and biking only; Aquabike which is swimming and running; and aquathon which is swimming and running.


Triathlon can be raced across many different distances from Try a Tri and sprint distances right up to full iron distance races.

What events can I race at the Mount Festival of Multisport?
The Tauranga Half is a long distance triathlon where athletes complete a 2km swim, 90km bike and a 21.1km run, a total of 113km. All three disciplines are completed in that order consecutively and can be done as an individual or team of two or three people.

The Enduro is also a long distance triathlon and is a step up in distance from the half where athletes complete a 3km swim, a 120km bike and a 25km run.  All three disciplines are competed in that order consecutively and can be done as an individual or team of two or three people.

The Hopt Soda AquaBike is a middle distance event where athletes complete a 1.3km swim and a 45km bike.  There is no run involved except for a very short run to the finish line.  The Mount Festival Hopt Soda AquaBike is an individual event only.

Who can enter?
Anyone over the age of 18 can race. You participate in your age group and gender. Ages are calculated as of 31 December in year of the race as per Triathlon New Zealand rules.

The breakdown of age groups for the Tauranga Half is as follows:

18-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80+

The breakdown of age groups for the Enduro and the AquaBike are as follows:

18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80+

The A – Z of common triathlon phrases...
Aid Station
Aids stations are areas on the course that contain various food and drink for athletes while participating. This means you do not need to carry all your own food as you compete if you do not wish to – however it is important to ensure that you have tried the food / drink on offer BEFORE race day so you know that you can process it. To see what is on offer at the Mount Festival of Multisport please refer to the Athlete Manual.

While we do try and cater for all participants, it is important to remember that aid station supplies are limited and may get low as the race progresses.  Please be prepared to have some of your own supplies.


Age Group Athletes
Athletes participating against those in their age group and gender.  Athletes participate as either Age Group Athletes or Professional Athletes.


Athlete Manual
This is a guide provided by event organisers with all event information you will need for pre-race, race day and post-race, it is important you read this information to ensure you have a good event. The Mount Festival of Multisport athlete manuals will be available a few weeks before the event.


Bag Drop
Most races will provide an area for you to leave all items not required during the race.  Volunteers will assist you with items you require to be looked after for you on event morning.  You will number your bag with the provided bag drop sticker.  Note – transition is a bag/box free zone; anything other than your shoes, towel and equipment needed to complete the event should be left at the bag drop area.  The Mount Festival bag drop will be available on race morning in the event village.


Bottle Drop
On the bike there will be a designated area where you can discard your empty bottles and collect new bottles for the bike leg. Volunteers will hand you a full drink bottle at the bottle pick up point.  It is expected that you slow down for them to safely hand it to you.  You are able to stop if you wish but please be aware of other cyclists around you when you are either slowing down or stopping. Loose bottles can be dangerous so please take care.


Drafting is the term used for when one cyclist sits closely behind another, gaining benefits from being in their “draft zone”. The POT half is a NON-Drafting race – meaning that drafting is illegal and anyone who is caught drafting will be penalised – if you are given a penalty you will be required to stop in a penalty box and await out your 3 minute penalty before being able to continue.  Three offences will result in disqualification from the event.


Draft Zone
To draft is to enter the bicycle or vehicle drafting zone. The Draft Zone will be a rectangle. The width will always be 3 metres wide. The center of the leading 3-metre edge will be measured from the leading edge of the front wheel. The length of the rectangle will measure 10 metres; for all race distances.

An athlete may enter the Draft Zone of another athlete but must be seen to be progressing through that zone. A maximum time of 20 seconds will be allowed to pass through the zone of another athlete.

The Vehicle Draft Zone will be a rectangle thirty-five (35) metres long by five (5) metres wide, which surrounds every vehicle on the bike segment. The front edge of the vehicle will define the center of the leading 5 metre edge of the rectangle.

An athlete may enter a bike Draft Zone in the following circumstances:

  • If the athlete enters the Draft Zone, and progresses through it within 20 seconds in the overtaking manoeuvre
  • For safety reasons
  • 100 metres before and after an aid station or transition area
  • At an acute turn
  • If the Technical Delegate excludes a section of the course because of narrow lanes, construction, detours, or for other safety reasons

An athlete is passed when another athlete’s front wheel is ahead of theirs. Once overtaken, an athlete must move out of the Draft Zone of the leading athlete within 20 seconds. Athletes must keep to the side of the course and not create a blocking incidence. Blocking is where an athlete who is behind cannot pass due to the leading athlete being poorly placed on the course. The penalty for blocking is the same as for drafting.

For Long Distance and Ultra Distance events the following rules will also apply

  • Side by side riding is not allowed unless the athlete on the right hand side is in the act of passing another bike or vehicle.
  • An athlete must not repeatedly enter and exit the draft zone of the same athlete in front of them to gain an advantage
  • If making a pass where more than one athlete is involved the athlete making the pass can only “drop in” between athletes where the distance between those athletes is more than the legal draft zone.

For more information on drafting please visit the Tri NZ website by clicking here.


Drop Zone
Dropping/discarding anything from your person outside the official drop zones may results in a penalty or disqualification. The zones are clearly marked before and after each support station (Bike and Run Course). Discards include food and clothing. Please note items discarded may not be returned to you.  This is monitored by Triathlon New Zealand officials who will be monitoring the course.


This is the term for fluid, which helps you to replenish the electrolytes the body loses through sweating and exercising. Electrolytes are important to help manage water availability and hydration in the body. Sports Drinks contain electrolytes and usually some carbohydrates for energy as well. There will be electrolytes and water available at all aid stations on the course.  You should be prepared to carry your own electrolytes as well.


Elite (Pro) Athletes
Professional/elite athletes are athletes competing in a separate category and racing for prize money. Athletes must meet time criteria in order to be eligible to race in the elite category.


Finish Gantry
This the finish arch that you will pass under when you cross the finish line.


Many athletes train and race using “gels” which are small packets of gel like substance which delivers fast carbohydrates to your body and are easy to absorb and digest on the go. There will be gels available at the aid stations on race day, check the athletes manual to see what kind will be on offer.  You should also be prepared to carry your own gels.


Mass Start
Most athletes will start in a mass swim start – where groups are set off occurring to their gender and age group. Elite men will start first, followed by elite women. Then Age Group Men, followed by Age Group Women, and finally teams. Age groupings may be divided into smaller groups depending on the number of people for example a wave of AG men under 40, then a wave of AG men 40 +.


Nutrition is the term used for food you consume on the race.  This may be power bars, gels, lollies, bananas or anything else in between – whatever works for you to provide your body with the fuel you need to get through the race. There will be nutrition provided on the aid stations located on the bike and run that you are welcome to use. You should also be prepared to provide and carry your own nutrition.  You are not allowed help from anyone outside of the race to provide you with nutrition – this is considered interference or outside help and can be grounds for a penalty or disqualification.


Pro Athletes
Professional/elite athletes racing for prize money – see elite athletes section.


Recovery Tent
This is the tent you are welcome to enter once you have finished the race, where you will find food, drink, massages, chairs, bean bags and a place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere with your friends and fellow triathletes.  This area is generally for athletes only.


All athletes are required to attend registration to collect their athlete race packs, containing all the items required for race day.  Registration is during specified times, see event schedule for details.  The Mount Festival registration is held on the Friday prior to the event.


Tri Suit
A tri suit is the name for the outfit many athletes wear when racing. It is generally made of lycra and include a small chamois in the crotch for comfort on the bike and pockets in the back to hold nutrition or other items. They come in many styles including one piece / two piece/ sleeves / no sleeves and really come down to personal preference and comfort. A tri suit is not a necessary piece of equipment – you are welcome to race in what ever you feel most comfortable in however remember that your race time includes all transitions  – so the time you take to change in between disciplines is included in your total time.  There is no private area for you to change in so be prepared to wear the same outfit for the full race.


Transition Area
The transition is a secure area for athletes and event crew only.  Your equipment is stored here during the event and where you change from swim to bike (known as T1) and then bike to run (known as T2). Please note boxes and bags are not allowed in transition during the race – once you have set up your transition you must remove all additional items. Your bikes are racked in this area during specified times – please refer to the athlete manual for Mount Festival of Mutlisport timings.


T1 – Transition 1
T1 is the transition between the swim and the bike. You will exit the swim course and enter transition via a clearly marked pathway, make your way to your bike and then change into your cycle gear. This may be a simple as peeling off your wetsuit and putting on your bike shoes and helmet – or you may wish to put other clothes over top of your togs. Please note nudity is not allowed in transition.

It is important that you fasten your helmet on before you un-rack your bike and then push your bike to the mount line (clearly marked).  This for safety reasons and will be monitored by technical officials.


T2 – Transition 2
T2 is the transition between the bike and the run. You will dismount your bike before the dismount line (clearly marked) and push your bike back to the same space in transition. Once your bike is racked you may remove your helmet and then change shoes and anything else you need to for the run before heading out on the run course.


Training Plan
A training plan is an exercise plan that maps out a schedule of swimming, biking and running in order to get you into the shape needed to complete the event. Everyone is different and will set their plan out differently depending on their goals for the race, time available for training and equipment they have access to.

The Mount Festival of Multiport has teamed up with 5 x World Champion Athlete Craig Alexander and his triathlon training company Sansego to offer all our athletes a 20% off discount for his triathlon training programmes – to find out more click here.


Timing Transponder
An electronic timing chip is worn on a Velcro strap around your ankle, this is used to provide your time to the timing team. Information will come with the timing chip as to which ankle it is to be worn on and it is important to adhere to this to ensue the timing mats can pick up your times.

Your time will be taken as you exit the swim, exit T1, finish the bike leg, exit T2 and your finish time at the end of the run.  You will be given individual splits for each leg of the race and an overall time for the race.  The athlete with the fastest time will win the race.


Timing Mat
Timing mats are placed around the course to pick up your time when you cross them wearing your timing transponder. Times are normally taken at the start and end of each discipline and may be taken at points during the run and bike.

The A – Z of what is needed to compete...
To complete the cycle leg of the race you will need a road worthy road bike. It is important that you ensure your bike is in full working order ahead of the race and that you have the spare parts, tools and knowledge to fix any small issues that may arise while you are racing i.e. a flat tyre. There will be a bike mechanic on the course should you encounter any major issues you cannot fix yourself.


Bicycle Helmet
You will need a bike helmet that fits you correctly and be wearing it at all times when riding or wheeling your bike. Triathlon New Zealand officials will check the condition and fit of your helmet when you enter transition to rack your bike.  Note – It is illegal to ride a bike without a helmet in New Zealand.


You do not have to wear goggles however they are highly recommended as they make it easier to see without getting water in your eyes. The POT Half swim takes place in Pilot Bay in salt water – which can irritate eyes if you are not used to it. There are many types of goggles available and the type you choose will be personal preference of what fits your face best. Ensure to try your goggles out before race day.


Running Shoes
As bare foot running is not permitted you must have a pair of running shoes. Professional advice on the best type of running shoe for your feet should be obtained to ensure your comfort – your local sports shoe stockist will be able to assist with fitting your shoes.


A swim specific wetsuit is recommended as they allow for natural range of movement when swimming. Wetsuits can have sleeves or be sleeveless and must not exceed 5mm thickness. Please note these are mandatory when the water temperature is below 16 degrees and are not allowed if the water temperature is above 22 degrees.


Other items you may wish to get could include cycle specific shoes, tri suits, a hat or specific race clothing and race watches however they are not necessary to complete your first race.

Planning your race weekend?
Event weekend is when all your hard work comes to fruition! Plan ahead to ensure you have accommodation booked (note Mount Maunganui is a holiday hotspot so get in early), and plan to arrive in time to review the course and settle in.

You may wish to arrive early to swim the course to practise sighting, drive the bike course and check the run course to ensure you know the course. There will be detailed course maps in the athlete manual, at registration and in the event village however it is your responsibility to know the course.

Event registration takes place on the Friday afternoon prior to the race. At registration you will collect your race pack, view the sponsors & retailers expo and then head to Pilot Bay to rack your bike in transition.

Ensure that you read the athlete manual from cover to cover and watch the athlete briefing video (compulsory) well ahead of time and come to registration prepared with any questions.

Take time to visualise your race – think about how long each leg will take you, plan your pace for each discipline – its easy to go out fast at the start and then realise you have run out of energy later – stick to your own race and don’t worry about what others around you are doing.

Saturday is all about the race, Sunday is all about relaxing!

Planning your race day?
Transition will open early on race day to enable you to access your bike and set up your race kit. Most athletes will use a small towel or race mat to place on the ground by their bike, and then place their race kit on top. This is the time to triple check you have everything for the race, check your bike tyres are pumped up, run through a visual of each transition. Transition will close at a certain time. Once it is closed you will not be allowed back in to change anything.

Ahead of the start of the race the swim course will be open for a warm up swim, which is a chance to get used to the water temperature and ensure you know the swim course.

Once the race is underway there will be event officials and volunteers positioned throughout the course, cheering you on and able to answer any questions if needed – however please note outside assistance is not able to be given as you are racing and may result in disqualification.

The Information Tent will be open early on race morning for any last-minute questions or issues and there will be volunteers and marshals on hand in transition to assist you.

When you cross the finish line you will be awarded your finishers medal and shown to the recovery tent for a well-earned rest!

There will also be a prizegiving at the end of the day where you can celebrate the race and maybe pick up an age group prize or spot prize.

How do you find out more information?
To find out more information on the Mount Festival of Multisport please read through the website  – should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us via or call the race office on 09 523 4212.
Top Tips...
Get your bike serviced in the month leading up to the race to ensure its working as it should be. Make sure you stock up on all race equipment / nutrition etc the week before and triple check you have it all.


Nothing new on race day
Its important to try everything before the race – nutrition / clothing / shoes / pacing / transitions. Tried and tested methods will get you through the race where new bits and bobs may through you off.


Prepare the day before
This includes checking all gear, packing your race kit, thinking through the event day and what you need to do when. Ensure you know the course, read the athletes manual, understand the rules.



Know the course – if you have the chance for a practice swim do so. Practice sighting of landmarks if possible that way if you lose sight of the buoys you still know what direction to head.

Think about where you want to start – at the front with the strong swimmers, or towards the back where there will be more space.

RELAX – you’ve done the swim training, now just relax and enjoy the swim. The swim is often the discipline people are most scared of. If you stay calm and breath it can become the most enjoyable.


Keep well hydrated and eat on the bike – this is a great time to refuel the body and ensure that you have enough energy to last the distance.

Work out for you in training how much food and fluid works best for you and stick to it on race day – even if it is an overcast day – don’t forget to drink!


Again hydration is key – small sips at each aid station will assist you to keep hydrated without feeling bloated or getting a stitch.

In training get used to listening to your body – know the signs when you need to refuel and practice refuelling on the go – remember nothing new on race day!

Pace yourself – it is easy to get excited when you head out on the run and start off too fast – check your pace and ask yourself if you are running to plan – within your limits.

The run is the final leg – you have already swum 1.9km and cycled 90km – there is only 21km to go so ENJOY IT!


Overall just enjoy race day – you have trained hard to get here and you deserve to enjoy the day! Soak up the crowds, listen to the cheers, wave to the spectators and pat encourage another athlete in passing – everyone is there with the same goal in mind – crossing the finish line!

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.