How to Register for a Triathlon

Triathlon participation is booming. The number of racers grew to 1.2 million U.S. triathletes in 2009, an 11% jump from 2008 and a 50% jump from 2007.
The Wall Street Journal

Anne Clelland in her first sprint triathlon pool swim Handshake 2.0 is a fan of triathlon.  We've written extensively about the business of triathlon.

I'm getting ready to join the over one million in the U.S. – possibly two million when the final count is in – who will do triathlons in 2011.  I'll attempt to register for 5 sprint triathlons near Handshake 2.0's headquarters in Blacksburg, Virginia.

This will be my 5th season to register for triathlons and I have developed a process that I'm glad to share.  While my systen has evolved primarily from registering for triathlons produced by Set Up Events, it may prove of general value to others as well.  A portion of this post is excerpted from the previous piece I wrote on having triathlon fever.

Registration for the Virginia Triathlon Series from Set Up Events is currently scheduled to open the first week of January, 2011.  Set Up Events produces races throughout the southeast United States.  Races in different locales and states may have different opening dates from the ones described here, and registration dates may change, so for the latest information, please see the Set Up Events site.

To qualify for a Virginia Triathlon Series award, a triathlete must complete 5 races.  Residents of Blacksburg, Virginia and the surrounding New River Valley of Virginia now have 5 sprint triathlons within a 3-hour drive. 

Here are the 5 sprint triathlons in Virginia closest to the New River Valley in order by date:

Angels Race, 5/1 – Lynchburg, VA
Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake, 5/7 – Smith Mountain Lake, VA
Salem YMCA Sprint, 6/5 – Salem, VA
Bath County Triathlon, 6/18 – Warm Springs, VA (near the The Homestead)
TriAdventure Summer Sprint, 6/26 – Christiansburg, VA

Registration for the races listed above is currently scheduled to open Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 7:00 AM Eastern time.  The registration fee for each of these races is $60 for individuals and $110 for relay teams.  Handling fees are added to this total before payment.

Since triathlon is a booming sport, demand can exceed supply, and other triathletes will have their fingers poised over their keyboards, competing for coveted spots in the most valued races, here are suggestions on how to increase the chances you'll get in the race – or races! – of your choice.

Take care of business well before registration day.

  • Consider becoming a member of USA Triathlon to receive a discount on handling fees.  The current membership fee is $39 for one year.
  • Register with Set Up Events now to create a Member Profile.  Entering a USA Triathlon Membership number is optional.  
  • Create a PayPal account or update your current account.  Set Up Events uses PayPal to accept registration fees and does not accept mail-in registration with cash or checks. or payment in other forms.  Added 1/5/2011:  Set Up Events also accepts credit and debit cards, uses PayPal to process them, but this does not require a PayPal account.  (Set Up's policies are here.) If you already use PayPal, log in to make sure you have the right user name and password, and check to make sure your payment information is current.

Plan for registration day.

  • Make a list of the races you want to enter in the order of priority to you.
  • If you want to register for a race with a pool swim, as compared to one with an open water swim, you'll be asked for your swim time.  Here's how to estimate your 100-yard swim time so you'll be ready to enter that number quickly. 

Before registration opens, have these items ready.

  • Your list of races.
  • Your 100-year swim time, if needed.
  • Your Set Up Events Member profile login information.
  • Your PayPal login information, or the credit card of debit card you plan to use.

Ready, set, register!

  • Be at your computer and log in to Set Up Events well before registration opens.  For those who want to register for the nearest sprint triathlon in the New River Valley, here's the link for the Triadventure Summer Sprint Triathlon
  • Go to the link of the race you most want to enter.  In the upper right-hand corner, you'll see a black button that says "Closed Event." 
  • Just before 7:00 AM on registration morning, start clicking refresh.  When registration opens, that button will turn from "Closed Event" to "Register."
  • Click "Register"! 
  • Follow the directions.  Done! 
  • Go to the link for the next race on your priority list.  

Repeat until you've registered for all your races!  Good luck!


Handshake 2.0 is a sponsor of the much-anticipated New River Valley Triathlon and supports the economic and charitable benefits that will ensue.  We believe the New River Valley will be a destination site for triathlons and multisport events.

Who's in FRONT? Gilda Garraton
Handshake Highlights of 2010


  1. This rocks Anne! Our area is blessed with a growing number of multi-sport events and no doubt the folks that will be competing for the first time this year will appreciate your step-by-step help here. Those of us that have raced in the past appreciate the reminder. Happy training!

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