This is the oldest tip in the book. Everybody knows this one, and everybody talks about it. In fact, this one should be #1, first.

But so many times I see athletes using new equipment on the day of the race. Ever been to a 10k and noticed how many participants are wearing the official race shirt?

I’ve seen it in half marathons and even marathons. I wouldn’t want a brand-new, unwashed and untested shirt chafing me in a full marathon. (See tip #29, Protect against chafing).

But I’ve made this mistake myself. Cebu, Philippines comes to mine. It was my fourth half Ironman, and I was excited as ever. I was racing in one of the region’s biggest. Certainly the biggest in terms of spectators.

The year before, they said there were 100,000 people watching the bike. So in my eagerness to race, I used the race belt included in the race pack.

(By the way, the Cebu race packs are some of the biggest and best I’ve ever seen.)

After the swim, in T1, as I was running out, I noticed my race belt fall off. I picked it up and to my surprise saw that the elastic band had unwound itself from the black plastic clip!

So, I just restrung it, and clipped it back on. Then I cinched it down to make sure it was tight. And I was off.

But It couldn’t have been more than 10k into the bike when I physically felt the edge of the belt slide around my body, bib and all.

I watched it slither off my hip, narrowly missing my chain and rear wheel, and fall to the ground. Once again, it had uncoiled itself from the clip and fallen.

“Don’t try anything new on race day,” echoed through my head. I had known this yet I thought just a little race belt couldn’t do any harm.

This is about as minor as it gets. I was able to finish the race with no issues, bib-less. But if it had been with my nutrition, shoes, or critical bike equipment, it could have meant disaster.

Don’t try anything new on race day.