Welcome new and veteran athletes alike to Tri To Finish. We are excited about raising the caliber of events in Michigan and creating races that truly give back to their participants. We believe in the utmost safety of our athletes and the experience they receive, regardless of their finishing place. In order to ensure your needs are met look for answers to your questions here, but do not hesitate to contact us with further questions or clarification. Happy training and racing!

Why Tri To Finish?

Tri To Finish was founded when its staff recognized a significant void between Ironman and the current short course events available in Michigan. On one end of the spectrum lies Ironman: well run events, the community is involved, cash prizes awarded to winners, great swag, over-the-top finish lines, well marked courses and a sense of accomplishment from first to last place. On the other end of the spectrum lies several local events. Although the proximity of these races are advantageous they lack the Ironman feel (i.e. rewarding cotton t-shirts, no cash prizes, tearing down before all participants are through the finish line, poorly marked courses, and a lack of community among athletes). Thus, Tri To Finish will put short course events in Michgian's backyard while bringing the Ironman feel home. Although unveiled recently, Tri To Finish has been several years in the making to ensure the highest quality at all their events and the utmost satisfaction from their participants.

Does Tri To Finish host anything other than triathlons?

Although Tri To Finish focuses primarily on triathlons we do offer duathlon and run events. Expect the same Tri To Finish “flair” at these events as well!

What is the difference between a triathlon and duathlon?

A triathlon consist of a swim, bike and run in that order. A duathlon consists of a run, bike, run format.

I just signed up for an event, now what?

First, let us congratulate you in taking the plunge into the world of endurance sports. We welcome you! Training for any endurance sport is strenuous. If you are new to the sport or if you haven’t had a routine physical in awhile, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your doctor to ensure you are ready to take on a triathlon, duathlon or run event. Next, train well so you enter the race confident in your ability to complete the course. Make sure you read through the rest of our Q&A page to information on our events and our rules. And most importantly, enjoy every moment of your training and racing. You will be crossing the finish line before you know it.

I heard there are cash prizes, is this true?

Yes you are absolutely correct! We believe our athletes have trained hard and deserve a reward for their hard work. Check out our events page for more information on finish prizes.

What equipment do I need for race day?

Everyone has a slightly different checklist to meet their needs. I would encourage you to start forming a checklist of equipment during your training. The night before the race organize your equipment based on that checklist and double check it in the morning. Below is an example of a checklist:

  • Goggles
  • Swim Cap (provided by race company)
  • Triathlon Suit (Although a triathlon suit saves time in the transition area, it is not necessary. You may opt to wear your swimsuit during the swim discipline and place a shirt/shorts over your swimsuit for the bike and run)
  • Triathlon Wetsuit (Wetsuits are not required and sometimes not legal depending on the temperature of the water that day.)
  • Bike
  • Helmet (Must have and must be worn on the bike at all times)
  • Waterbottles X2 (filled prior to coming to event)
  • Bike Pump
  • Spare Tire and Tubes
  • Electrical Tape (Not needed for any particular reason but there always seems to be a reason for electrical tape on race day)
  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling Shoes (if you have a bike with clipless pedals)
  • Socks
  • Allen Wrench Set (For any last minute bike repairs)
  • Socks
  • Running Shoes
  • Race Number Belt (Your number must be secured to you during the bike and run portion of the race. A race belt allows you to do this without pinning it to your clothes. Click here to see one.)
  • Extra pair of shoes/sandals (You will be placing your running shoes in the transition area in the morning and may want an extra pair of shoes or sandals to walk around in)
  • Nutrition (Powerbars and gels. During training figure out what works best for you and stick with it during the race)
  • Sweatshirt/Sweatpants (It may be chilly when you first arrive at the race)
  • ID
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera (For that great finishing shot!)

What is Packet Pickup?

Packet pickup is your opportunity to check in, receive your race information (race number, swim cap, etc), and any extra goodies from our sponsors. The location will be decided on an event to event basis and will be held ONE DAY BEFORE the event. If you cannot make packet pickup the day before the event you must let us know and arrive early on the day of the event to proceed through the check in process.

When should I arrive on race morning?

Arrive one to two hours before the start of the event. Allow extra time if it is your first race or you need to pick up your packet race morning.

What if I am a spectator, can I arrive right before the start?

Spectators we encourage you to arrive with your athletes, help them with their belongings and ensure the roads are clear once the race begins.

I’ve arrived on race morning, now what do I do?

If you have already received your race day packet, proceed to body marking and the transition area. Receive your body marking and place your equipment in your designated transition slot.

What is body marking?

Volunteers will be placed near the transition area to offer body marking. You will be marked based on your race number, age, and event. Body markings help us identify all athletes and increase safety throughout the event.

How do I set up the transition area?

Everyone sets up their transition area differently. Place your bike seat over your designated slot and allow the back wheel to hang while the front wheel rests on the ground. Place your other accessories below your bike and be respectful of those athletes around you. Do not leave your bike pump in the transition area and leave the access ways clear of your belongings.

I’m nervous about leaving my stuff in the transition area, is it secure?

We will secure the transition areas with fencing and event staff. Only athletes will be allowed in the transition area.

I’ve set up my transition area, now what?

We encourage all of our athletes (and spectators) to locate the swim in, bike out, bike in, run out and finish line. This will help you during the event and ease your transition from each discipline.

How do you time your events?

All athletes will receive a chip to wear around their ankle throughout the event. The chip will be activated when the racer begins and will be checked throughout the event as racers cross over timing mats. The chip will be turned off when the racer crosses the finishing timing mat. After the event you MUST return the chip.

What if I cannot finish and pull out of the race?

YOU MUST LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY. If you decide to stop racing, for whatever reason, immediately return your chip to the event management tent and inform staff of your reason for exiting the event. It is imperative you let us know for the safety of all our athletes.

Where do you hold the swim portion of your triathlons?

Our swims take place in open water. We provide lifeguards and rescue boats at all our swims and take every precaution on the swim course. However, for those new to the sport, open water swimming is significantly different than a pool swim. No, there will not be a black line on the bottom of the lake to lead you to the next buoys. We encourage you to practice open water swimming with a group. Your local triathlon club may have open water swim practice throughout the swimmer. Give them a call!

What are wave starts?

Athletes will be put in “waves” based on age and gender. Waves will start one at a time to keep swimmers as safe as possible. Listen to pre-race announcements for wave start order.

In the event that I need help in the water, what do I do?

If you need assistance in the water raise your arm above your head and call for a lifeguard.

Can I rest on a lifeguard boat?

You may hold onto a lifeguard boat as long as you do not make forward progress.

Can I use a wetsuit?

Wetsuits are not required but can be used if water temperatures allow. See USAT rules below for temperature thresholds.

Do I have to wear a swim cap?

You MUST wear the swim cap provided, it helps us identify all athletes in the water and keep you safe.

What happens in the event of inclement weather?

Tri To Finish reserves the right to delay, modify, or cancel the event to ensure the safety of our athletes. If inclement weather does ensue we will consider delaying or modifying the event before canceling it. If the swim course is deemed unsafe we will change the triathlon into a duathlon.

What type of bike can I use for your event?

For on-road events you may use a road, triathlon or mountain bike. For off-road events you may use a mountain bike. Recumbent bikes are NOT allowed at any of our events. No fairings either!

Are the bike and run course closed to traffic?

Unless otherwise stated, the course will be open to traffic. We work with local authorities to make sure heavily trafficked corners are attended. However, use caution when approaching a turn, corner or at any other point on the course. Nonetheless we can not account for the actions of drivers on the course so be aware and alert at all times.

Do I need to wear a helmet?

Yes, you must wear a helmet at all times on the bike. See USAT rules for specifics.

Can I wear headphones and listen to music?

No. We want you to be fully aware of your surroundings at all times during the event and thus have prohibited headphones.

Can I receive outside assistance from a family member of friend?

You may NOT receive outside assistance from a family member or friend. This includes “pacing” or running/biking alongside of during the event. We will staff our course with volunteers and aid stations to help guide and assist you through the course.

What is a bike mount/dismount line?

Outside the transition area will be a bike mount/dismount line. After finishing the swim and gather your cycling belongings walk/run your bike out of the transition and mount the bike past the mount/dismount line. When returning from the bike you must dismount the bike before the mount/dismount line. Proceed to walk/run the bike into the transition area and return the bike to your designated slot.

Will the course be marked?

The course will be marked with signs, cones, flags, arches and banners. Although it is the primary responsibility of each athlete to know the course in advance, the largest complaint we hear about other race companies in the state is their lack of directions on the course. We will have trained volunteers to assist you throughout the course and make your race experience easier.

What is an aid station?

We position aid stations strategically throughout the course to supply our racers with the nutrition they may need during the event. The aid stations will be well marked and staffed.

Who is USAT and why are they important?

USA Triathlon is the sanctioning authority for more than 3,500 diverse events. With 2 USAT certified race directors, Tri To Finish adheres to their sanctioning process and their rules to ensure the safety of all athletes.

What are the most common rule violations at your USAT sanctioned events?

  1. Helmets: Only helmets approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may be used in USAT sanctioned events. Helmets must be worn at all times while on your bike. This means before, during, and after the event.
    Penalty: Disqualification
  2. Chin Straps: Chin straps must be buckled at all times when on a bicycle. DO NOT unbuckle your chin strap unless you are off your bicycle.
    Penalty: Disqualification on the course; Variable time penalty in transition area only.
  3. Outside Assistance: No assistance other than that offered by race and medical officials may be used. Triathlons and duathlons are individual tests of fitness.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty
  4. Transition Area: All equipment must be placed in the properly designated and individually assigned bike corral. The wheel of the bicycle must be down on the side of the assigned space. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle corral. No person shall interfere with another participant’s equipment or impede the progress of another participant. All bar ends must be solidly plugged. No participant shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty
  5. Drafting: Drafting--keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds. Position-- keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing. Blocking--riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass. Overtaken--once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty
  6. Course: All competitors are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue. Cyclists shall not cross a solid yellow center line for ANY reason. Cyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws at all times.
    Penalty: Referee's discretion
  7. Unsportsmanlike-Like Conduct: Foul, harsh, argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers, spectators or fellow athletes is forbidden.
    Penalty: Disqualification
  8. Headphones: Headphones, headsets, walkmans, ipods, mp3 players, or personal audio devices, etc. are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty
  9. Race numbers: All athletes are required to wear race numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number to any other athlete or take a number from an athlete that is not competing.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty for missing or altered number, Disqualification and one year suspension from membership in USAT for transferring a number without race director permission.
  10. Wetsuits: Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wears a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited.
  11. Abandonment: All personal equipment and belongings taken out onto the course must stay on the athlete the entire time. No garbage, clothing, etc. shall be thrown on the course.
    Penalty: Variable time penalty
Distance Category First offense Second Offense Third Offense
Sprint 2 minutes 4 minutes Disqualification
Intermediate 2 minutes 4 minutes Disqualification
Long 4 minutes 8 minutes Disqualification
Intermediate 6 minutes 12 minutes Disqualification

Where can I find a complete list of USAT rules?


"Great event, great course, and amenities. Looking forward to next year. Thanks!"
- Kathy P.