Frequent Questions

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Questions About Triathlons

How does a triathlon work?

A triathlon consists of three events in the following order – swim, bike, run. There are various distances of triathlon, but all events consist of these three disciplines.

 Between each event athletes pass through a transition area, which is used for your swim-to-bike transition (T1) and the bike-to-run transition (T2).

Within the transition area, participants have a space where they place their bike and other items that they will need in order to move on to the next event.

See below for recommendations on what items to bring with you on the day of your race, and visit our YouTube channel to view videos of athletes in action at our triathlons.

What if my child has special needs?

We strive to make our events safe and accessible for children of all abilities. Some of our athletes complete our events with adjustments such as specialized equipment, running the course with a buddy or aide, or completing a modified course, for example run/bike/run. If your child is interested in participating in one of our events, we will work with you to plan a way to make their race day a successful, positive experience! Please contact with any questions or for further information.  You can learn more by reading this overview.

View this short video on our YouTube channel to hear about one of our adaptive athlete’s experience with triathlon.

Are triathlons safe? My child is young.

Triathlons are safe for children of all ages and skill levels. We adjust course distances depending on the age and have trained volunteers spread through the course, ready to assist any child that needs help. 

If you think triathlon may be a good fit for your child, but still have some hesitations, we encourage you and your child to come watch one of our events or volunteer at an event before signing up to participate.

Questions About Tri 4 Schools

What does this have to do with schools?

 Tri 4 Schools is a 501c3 non-profit, and in addition to hosting our events and programs, we also provide funds to schools to support health and fitness there.  Since 2011, we’ve donated over $375,000 to Wisconsin schools – the majority in our home base of Dane County.

Does my child's school have to sign up to participate in a Tri 4 Schools event?

No. Simply by entering the name of your child’s school in their registration, your school has been “signed up.”  At the end of the year, we use this information when contributing to school wellness programs.

Is Tri 4 Schools a national organization?

Our Founder (and current Dane County Executive Director), Katie Hensel, started Tri 4 Schools after learning about the childhood obesity epidemic and shrinking school budgets.  Triathlon was the sport that inspired Katie to change her own lifestyle in college, and she wanted to share this transformative sport with the next generation of kids.  The very first Tri 4 Schools event in Middleton had over 400 attendees, and organization has grown throughout Dane County since 2011.

Questions About Events & Race Day

What do I do if my child isn't a strong swimmer?

Any child who is registered in our Short or Intermediate course can use a water noodle (that we provide at the event) to complete their swim portion. If your child is registered in the Medium or Long course, they must be able to complete the swim distance without assistance. We will have lifeguards in the pool for all course distances and they can help temporarily assist children if needed. We cannot allow personal flotation devices per pool rules – items such as water wings, puddle jumpers, or inner tubes. We do suggest that you work with your child to make sure they are comfortable swimming the distance in the pool in advance of the event. If they are not comfortable with the swim portion, consider registering them for a shorter distance course that your child will be able to complete successfully.

What time do I arrive on race day?

For triathlons, we recommend arriving 45-60 minutes prior to the start of your event to allow for parking, body marking, and preparing your gear in the transition area. When you get to the event, head to the Registration area and we’ll guide you through this process.

If you’re coming for a mud run, we recommend showing up 30 minutes prior to the wave start time that you select when registering for the event.

Please note that start times are an estimate. While we work to remain on the posted schedule, we may adjust start times slightly as needed to make sure all participants are able to safely complete their course.

We need help with a bike, helmet, or race equipment. What do we do?

We are dedicated to changing the face of triathlon, and its perception as a privileged sport, by reducing barriers to participation and providing access to all who wish to “tri.”

We are happy to help with equipment needs, and our partnerships with donors and local organizations allow us to provide bikes, shoes, and helmets to children who need it.

If your child needs something to help them succeed on race day, please email at least 4 weeks prior to your race, and we’ll work together on a solution.

My child cannot ride a two-wheeler by themselves. What types of bikes are children able to use in the events?

If your child is not yet comfortable riding a two-wheeler bike, they can participate on a bike with training wheels, a balance (glider) bike, a tricycle, or even a big wheeler. We do not allow stand-up scooters or any type of roller skates or inline skates. Please contact us if you have a question about a specific type of “bike” you are considering using for the triathlon. We recommend that if your child is using a balance bike or training wheels that they register for the Short course option.

Do I need to have my gear loaded in transition by a specific time? How does the transition load in and load out process work on the event day?

Unlike many adult triathlons, we do a rolling load-in/load-out for our transition area. This means that throughout the event morning, our transition captain and volunteers in the transition area will let you know when you can set up your gear and when you can enter transition to remove your gear. They will also provide guidance as to where to set up your items based on which course you are completing. Since some athletes may be actively racing while you are there to load in or out, you may have a short wait before you can enter the transition area.

The earliest that the transition area opens is 7am on the morning of the event. We recommend that you arrive 45-60 minutes prior to the start time of your specific course to allow time to complete body marking and prepare your items in transition before heading to the swim staging area to start your race. If you have multiple children participating in different courses, you may load in all of their gear at the same time; just communicate with our transition area volunteers and they will assist you.

What if it is raining on the morning of the event? Will the event be cancelled?

We race rain or shine, so plan on coming to your race unless you hear otherwise from us via social media, event emails, or our website. We work closely with local law enforcement and the pool managers to follow their safety policies to determine if an event will need to be delayed or cancelled due to unsafe weather conditions.

What is the wait list process? What does it mean if it says wait list on my registration receipt?

If it says “Wait List” in your registration details on your registration receipt, the event is sold out and you have been added to a wait list. As we receive cancellations, we will move individuals off the wait list. If you are moved off the wait list to a registered status, you will see the charge come through for your event fees, and you will receive an email from Tri 4 Schools confirming your registration status.

If you should decide that you would no longer like to be on the wait list for an event, please email so that we can remove you from the wait list. If you are registering multiple participants and only want to be moved off the wait list if all your athletes can be moved off the wait list, please email

We will finish processing the wait list after online registration closes on the Wednesday before the event, and we will confirm if you were able to be moved off the wait list to a registered status at that point.

Please note that course changes can only be made up until online registration closes on the Wednesday before the event. Contact us if you need to make a change to your course. We cannot accommodate any course changes at packet pickup or on the day of the race.


What do I bring on race day?

Required items:

  • Swimsuit
  • Helmet (make sure that it fits properly)
  • Bike
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Your race bib and safety pins (can be picked up at Friday packet pickup or on the morning of the race) or a race belt
  • Shirt or other top (All athletes must have a top on for the bike and run portions of the event. This could be a swim shirt, swimsuit, or other top.)

Other items that you may want to bring:

  • Flip flops or sandals to wear prior to the swim (must hand off to your adult when you enter swim staging area)
  • Goggles and a swim cap
  • Towel to dry off in transition (or two, if you would like one to stand on in transition as well)
  • Socks (some kids wear their shoes without socks, but beware of blisters!)
  • Water bottle filled with water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • A jacket or long sleeve (for inclement weather – we race rain or shine!)
  • Dry clothes for after the race
  • Snack for just before the race
  • A small amount of cash on hand
  • Your phone or camera with lots of storage space for pictures!
Which course should I register my child for?

Review the course distances for each event to help you determine which course will be the right fit for your child. We list recommended ages for each course, but your child will be most successful with their event, and happiest about their experience, if you choose the distance that matches their abilities, regardless of age.

My child's school isn't participating. Can my child still come?

Absolutely! Even if your child is the only one from their school, they can come to any Tri 4 Schools event. 

Do you offer any type of financial assistance?

We believe that nothing should stand in the way of your child’s health.  Because of this, we offer financial assistance for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch at their school.  Simply follow the prompts in the registration process, and we will find an appropriate fee that works for your family.

Am I able to assist my child in transition during their race?

Children six and under are allowed to have one adult helper join them in transition to assist with their transition process. If you are assisting a child in transition, we recommend that you wait for them by their gear in transition, as that is the fastest and easiest way for your child to find you, and their gear, in transition.

Children seven and older can ask any of our transition volunteers if they need help during transition. As part of your preparation for the triathlon, you may want to practice transition with your child to help them feel confident with what transition is like on race day.

Regardless of age, if your child needs additional assistance for any reason, please let our transition volunteers know, and they will allow you into the transition area to help your child as needed.

My child is registered for an event, but we are now unable to attend. Can we get a refund?

While it is our policy to not offer refunds, we work with families who provide advanced notice to offer a credit towards a future race.  If you can no longer attend the race you are signed up for, please contact

After my child is registered for an event, am I able to change which course they are registered for?

Course changes can only be made up until online registration closes on the Wednesday before the event. Contact us if you need to make a change to your course. We cannot accommodate any course changes at packet pickup or on the day of the race.

Questions About Training Teams

How do I know if my school has a Training Team?

Please visit our Training Teams page to see if your school is listed. 

How do I start a team?

Please visit the Start a Training Team page and fill out the interest form and we’ll be in touch soon. 

If I join a team, do I also need to register for the triathlon?

No! Your program fee includes the registration fee for the triathlon. Tri 4 Schools staff will make sure all members of a training team are appropriately registered for their goal event.

How do I know which course distance to select when registering for a team?

Because all team members are automatically registered for the triathlon, we ask which course you would like to participate in when you register for the team. Select what you are most comfortable with at the time. Your coach will review all distances and work with each student to make appropriate course changes prior to participating in the triathlon.

Is there a fee for a site to host the program?

There is no fee for a site to start a training team. There is a program fee for each individual student to participate. The fee includes their entry to the triathlon they are training for.

Do you offer any type of financial assistance to join a team?

We believe that nothing should stand in the way of your child’s health.  Because of this, we offer financial assistance to join a team.  Simply follow the prompts in the registration process, and we will find an appropriate fee that works for your family.

What happens if I join a team, but then cannot attend the triathlon?

Team members can use their entry fee included in the program for another event if they cannot attend the event the team is training for. The event must be in the same calendar year as the team event.

Are you ready to have a happy, healthy, and confident kid?

Register for an event today!