High Fives: A Guide For Spectators and Racers

High fives are a big part of triathlons. Some people love to give them — and others view them as a distraction. As a veteran Iron-spectator, I have become an expert on the art of the “High five” (Not to brag, but I even high fived Craig Alexander as he was running towards his victory at the 2008 Kona Ironman Championship).

The most important part about high fiving athletes during the race is knowing which ones want it and which ones will get annoyed. The athletes that are smiling usually will chuck you a high-five, and the ones that are staring at their feet or sprinting past you will usually ignore you. It’s not your fault that they ignored you — because they were just in the zone.


Guide to high fives: the run is the safest option

The best part of the race to find people that are willing to high five is the beginning and the ending of the run. The racers are understandably happiest at the end of the race and will demonstrate this through their high fives to the crowd.

I have had the least luck during the middle of the run in longer races. It is also a bad idea to high-five racers on the bike because they might fall or something bad could happen. And if you can get a high five during the swim that would be cool but I don’t know how you could pull that off…


High fivin’ it up in Lake Placid

The same rules apply to athletes. Try to avoid high fives on the bike and anytime on the run when these friendly gestures would distract you. It is vital to remember that going out of your way (even a step) can slow you down. If you high five fifty people, then that is fifty steps out of your way!

A bonus is to high five spectators and cheer them on. They are probably having a rough day (being an Iron spectator can be brutal and they could use a high five). I like to spice things up and give fun high fives or “Awkward High fives”. We did this last year for a few hours in Lake Placid during Ironman (and even made a sign).



our “awkward high five” signs

Remember to have fun with it… and keep on high-fiving.

Stay classy out there,
TJ Begg