Berlin Triathlon 2023

My Triathlon debut in my city of living

Published: 05.07.2023

Last modified: 05.07.2023


  1. Motivation
  2. Preparation
  3. Race day
  4. The results
  5. Things I learned
  6. What’s next?


“Why on earth would you want to do a Triathlon?”

One gear is all it takes

When I moved to Berlin, I figured that my preferred way to get around the inner city ring is to use the bike. It’s the fastest, eco-friendliest, and cheapest. However, it’s certainly not the safest. Berlin is flat. According to Komoot, the Müggelberg is the highest natural elevation in Berlin (114,7m above sea level). Thus, berlin people tend to ride single-speed or fixed gear and single-speed bikes. There’s certainly a huge scene around it. So I started getting into that and loved riding fixed-gear bikes. Presumably, my Aventon Cordoba will always be one of the top ten bikes I ever owned.

Need for Speed

During the covid pandemic riding my bike and going for a run (or even just going for a walk) were one of my favorite things to do, when I was not attending a virtual classroom at uni. It meant I could be outside and move my body. Hence, I started planning longer bike tours through the surrounding areas of Berlin. These tours wouldn’t have been anywhere as good as they were without my pals Lukas and Markus and their race bikes. Well, who would’ve thought that trying to keep up with race bikes is tough on a fixed-gear bike. This eventually led me to the thought of selling my beloved Aventon Cordoba and buying a second-hand race bike.

Just cycling is not enough

From talking to people who like endurance sports I always heard the same 3 things:

  1. *“Running and cycling will only work out your lower body, what about your upper body?”.
  2. “Running will hurt your knees sustainably”
  3. “Cycling is bad for your back”

So I asked myself, what other sport could I do that trains my endurance, goes easy on my joints, and trains my upper body? The answer I gave myself was: swimming. I used to be a member of a swimming club as a child, so I wanted to keep up from where I left off.

Seeking a challenge

I love to challenge myself. I like setting goals, planning accordingly, and tracking progress. Now that I assured myself that the combination of these three sports was right for me, I was looking for a challenge to face. After some research, I found out about the Berlin Triathlon and when I watched the Aftermovie of the 2022 event, I was immediately hooked.

Also, as Berlin is the city I live in, it’s close and I don’t have to travel for an event if I’m not sure I will like it. I looked at the offered distances and without knowing much about them, I chose the Sprint distance because it is not too long but also a bit more serious than the Fitness distance. The Sprint distance entails:

  • 750m swim (1 loop around the Insel der Jugend)
  • 20km bike ride (3 loops around the cycling track)
  • 5km run (along the Uferpromenade in the Treptower Park) So I paid the fee and signed up on the 22nd of November, 2022.


From this day on I knew that I had to prepare to manage this. I was especially concerned with the swimming part. It later turned out that most of the first-timer athletes had the same concern.

The plan

I didn’t want to join a club with fixed training hours, and neither could I afford a personal trainer. So I looked on the web and found out about the Time2Tri App “Athlete”. It comes with ready-to-use training plans for Triathlon newbies ([“Rookie Projekt 2023”])( and advanced athletes. Most of the plans are free and some of the plans are approved by DTU, which gave me trust that the plans were good. All in all, I can highly recommend this app. Especially the calendar export feature made it easy to integrate the training sessions into my daily business. Also, as part of my prepartion I planned to race the Berliner Halbmarathon. It greatly helped me to improve my running performance. I finished at 2:21:05 with an average pace of 6’36”/KM, which was slower than in my debut in 2019, but I was still happy with the whole experience of the event.

Getting ready for Race Day

During my preparation and research into Triathlon, I sensed that this sport is highly regulated. To make sure that I would not be disqualified in my first race, I attended the Dry run offered by the triathlon club Triathlon Verein Berlin 09 that is partly organizing the Berlin Triathlon. This greatly helped me to understand the rules on racing day. They also offered weekly supervised free water swims from mid-May until the race day. Somehow I didn’t manage to attend any of these but I’m sure they would’ve helped me to get familiar with swimming in open water. As I didn’t attend these, the race day was my first time swimming in open water and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone…

Race day

The final day has come. Let’s see if the preparation was sufficient.


Surprisingly, the water was not as cold as I expected. I tried to swim as close to the shore of the island as possible to reduce the length of the swim. However, the main challenge was to not get kicked by one of the other 300 athletes and remain swimming in the correct direction. This is very challenging when swimming freestyle with a bad sight in the water.


Windshadow riding was allowed for this event. Nonetheless, it took me quite some time to find a group that matched my pace. Once I found that group we were able to pick up speed and switch the leading work. I was really happy with the average pace of 33,3 KM/H. However, it felt dangerous to ride in a group at such a fast pace. Additionally, I didn’t feel comfortable with the motorcycles on the biking track. I know that they need to carry the judges and media personnel but especially with the terrible accident that happened the same day at Ironman Hamburg, this needs to improve at Berlin Triathlon. In my opinion, the athlete’s safety should be the number one priority. My condolences to the relatives.


My strategy for the run was to keep the pace at 6’00”/KM, which is a tad faster than my pace during the Berliner Halbmarathon. However, when I started the run, I realized that I can go faster. Once a fellow athlete passed, I picked up his speed and tried to keep up with him. This helped me to get going. Sadly, I had to let it rip close to the finish line. I went all out on the run. In the end, it felt like I was sprinting.

The results

Finally, I placed 17th in my age group TM25 and 119th out of 316 athletes overall. My finish time was 1:23:06 with a lag of 0:22:58 to the winner. My swim split was 19:40, and I took 0:43:56 on the bike. Swimming and biking together took me 1:03:36. At this point, the winner in my age group already crossed the finish line. Mad respect! I finished off with a 19:30 run. I’m really happy with my effort and hope to be back stronger and faster next year. Thanks to Berlin Timing for providing the result data.

Startnr Name Position AG Position AG Finish time Swim Bike Swim + Bike Run Lag
/ / 1 TM25 1 1:00:08 11:51(3) 0:33:20(1) 0:45:11(1) 14:57(1) 0:00:00
1377 Felix Jan Schneider 119 TM25 17 1:23:06 19:40(177) 0:43:56(156) 1:03:36(157) 19:30(51) 0:22:58
Crossing the finish line at Berlin Triathlon 2023.

Things I learned

For swimming, the main challenge was to keep the right direction, mind the currents, remain calm, and try not to get kicked by other athletes. This is why I will practice open-water swimming next time. Also, in 19°C water temperature deciding against a wetsuit was the correct decision for me. The Spree River felt way nicer than I imagined. This might be a no-brainer but biking in the wind shadow made a huge difference. During the run, it made a huge difference for me to run with someone else. This way I could push myself to a faster pace. Finally, I have to admit that I think I’m not a sprinter. I guess a longer distance with less tension would’ve suited me better.

What’s next?

I loved the racing experience. So it will not have been my last triathlon race. I plan to start at Berlin Triathlon in 2024. Hopefully, there will be no more motorcycles on the racing track. I’d also like to try out another Triathlon apart from Berlin. I’m tempted to try the Allgäu Triathlon to experience the “Kult” factor in the superb surrounding mountain panorama. Most importantly, I’ll not start again in the Sprint distance. For my next Triathlon, I will start at the Olympic distance, which is roughly double the distance.