Cost of triathlon: What you may not have considered

On January 1, 2017, we launched our “13 Miles Champions” campaign to raise funds for triathletes who are true ambassadors for the sport. Why did we feel a need to do this? The subject of our movie, “triathlon”, is one of the most inclusive sports available. Meaning, anybody can train for a triathlon. If you can swim, bike and run, or if you can find a way to learn to do these three activities within your ability, then you can be a triathlete!

But there are some who take the sport of triathlon and turn it into not just a hobby, but a passion. And because almost anybody can participate, triathletes are some of the most inspiring and supportive folks around.

Behind the scenes, triathletes know… it’s not easy.

Truth be told, training for long distance triathlon, also called "Ironman Triathlon”, is gruelling and intense. It needs your commitment in terms of time, money, strength and courage. You need to be passionate to complete the training successfully. You need long hours of training and preparation to finish.

Triathlon needs one to commit himself/herself completely.

This is not a sport for financially crippled individuals or those who love their money too much. Registration alone goes for about $500-700. Nevertheless, thousands of individuals still take it on. While there is no age limit - anyone over the age of 18 may participate; and there are shorter distances now available for youth between 3-17 years of age (yes, you read that correctly, AGE THREE!).

With proper planning, even those with less dough can still give it a shot. Most participants actually don’t come up with all the required money at once. They start saving as early as they can and buy the equipment needed several days before the race. Some make use of local shops, eBay, swap meets, Craigslist and friends to get used equipment at a lower price. All in the hopes to avoid leaving a hole in their bank account.

But How Much Does It Actually Cost?

Most triathlon registration takes place online. The triathlete will be expected to make their payment using a credit card and provide some identification documents before they can earn a slot.

To give you an idea of what the race will cost, let's break down some of the basic essentials a triathlete will need for each activity - Swim. Bike. Run.

The total expenditure is classified into two groups:
1. The Average/Budget Spender, and
2. The Big Spender

Swim

Every Ironman triathlete is expected to complete a 2.4 miles swim. This is a pretty long distance, and some swimming essentials to help finish successfully will, no doubt, be required.

A Budget Spender is expected to spend around $1,200
A Big Spender can go as high as $3,000

To get better at swimming, a triathlete will need to train harder and register themselves as a member in several pools around the city. A 12-month pool membership can cost around $120-$200. The fee can also go a bit higher if a personal trainer is hired.

  • Wetsuit $200-$800
  • Bathing suit (at least two) $65-$120 each
  • Goggles $15-$50
  • Pull buoys $20-$60
  • Flippers $20-$75
  • Swim caps (at least four) $3-$25 each
  • Body glide $15
  • Pool pass $100-$500 per year
  • Master's Swim $60 per month for budget spenders and $100 for big spenders

Bike

Ironman triathlon requires a participant to complete a 180km bike ride over varied terrain. To successfully finish that distance, a bike that fits the triathlete's body is a must; something that’s not too big or too small. There are two options when looking for a good bike - Buy a second-hand product or go for a brand new one. 

While purchasing a used bike is more cost efficient, the triathlete still must be ready to shell out a few extra bucks to get it to a better condition. The most important bike maintenance activities include tube replacement, handlebar wrap, new clips and two tune-ups.

Many people spend a lot when buying a bike and its accessories.

A Budget Spender is likely to spend around $2,600
A Big Spender’s budget will amount to around $12,000

  • Bike $1500-$8000
  • Bike shorts $5
  • Helmet $80-$200
  • Cycling shoes $90-$350
  • Pedals $55-$400
  • Bike clothing $500-$1000
  • Sunglasses $25-$250
  • Gloves $25-$100
  • Pump $30-$125
  • Tools $50-$300
  • Tubes $2.50-$10 each - you'll need about 10-20 of them
  • Tires $40-$200 and you'll need about four of them
  • Chain lube $5-$10 a bottle
  • Water Bottle $3-$25 and you'll need about six of them
  • Club rides membership $60-$250

The items listed above are crucial to making it to the finishing line. Minor cuts to the above can be made to minimize the budget, such as the club rides, but almost all items listed above are crucial to a safe and successful ride.

Run

The Ironman triathlon run is a full marathon race, and it covers a distance of 42.2 km. This is the cheapest segment of a triathlon. If the triathlete selected their bike gear carefully, particularly the clothing, they will realize it can be used during running as well. So, running costs can be minimized by re-using some items from other activities. The essentials needed for this activity include running shoes, clothing and club memberships.

  • Running shoes $80-$200 and you'll need at least four pairs
  • Run clothing $300-$1000
  • Run club membership $20 per month for budget spenders and $100 for big spenders

A Budget Spender will cash out around $860
A Big Spender will part with around $3,000

Nutrition

A triathlete can’t possibly expect to finish Ironman training successfully while feeding poorly. Plenty of energy drinks, bars, water, and gels are needed. If on a budget, eating sandwiches or bananas while running will help to cut down the costs.

A Budget Spender needs about $400
A Big Spender needs around $800

  • Sports drink (powder) $50-$120 - need at least four
  • Bars $2 - need approximately 50 of them
  • Gels $2 - need about 50 of them

These are only the items needed while in the field, but when it comes down to real meals, this can be costly. While in the training field, the triathlete's body takes a beating and devouring three times their normal intake is fairly typical!

Medical

Long-distance/Ironman triathlon training is very hard, and as a result, the joints, muscles and other parts of a triathlete's body will ache. Frequent massaging and physical therapy sessions to keep their body healthy is crucial. Generally, the complexity of this training means the triathlete can’t avoid getting injured. While it’s hard to put together a list of medical essentials, it’s mandatory that an athlete has one. Nevertheless, medical costs should include physiotherapy, massage therapy, and orthotics.

  • Physiotherapy $50 once a month - big spenders prefer once or several times per week
  • Massage therapy $75 once a month - like physiotherapy. Big spenders prefer weekly sessions.
  • Orthotics cost about $500 for big spenders while budget spenders can do away with it hence zero expenditure.

A Budget Spender will shell out about $1200
A big spenders’ expense can go as high as $5700

Race Event Costs

Want to play? Be ready to pay.

First, racing can require an athlete to travel. Secondly, accommodations will also need to be considered. The race fee is about $700. Here is the breakdown of the cost likely to be incurred during the race day:

  • Registration fee is around $700
  • Hotel fee - around $100 for average spenders and $250 for big spenders. You will need accomodation for about five days/nights, so that translates to $500 for budget spenders and $2500 for big spenders.*
  • Flights and/or Gas?

A Budget Spender should expect to part with $1500
A Big Spender will shell out about $4700

*Obviously, if the event is held within the triathlete's local area, this cost goes down to $0.

Other Expenses

Some triathletes are used to having trainers and attending gyms. So, they might find it hard without these services. As an athlete, a heart rate monitor and a race belt will be needed.

A Budget Spender can only spend about $60
A Big Spender will shell out approximately $5,400

Here is a breakdown of the items in this category:

  • Heart rate monitor $50-$400
  • Yoga classes - $0 for Budget Spenders and $500 for Big Spenders
  • Trainer/coach - $0 for Budget Spenders and $2000 for Big Spenders
  • Gym membership - $0 for Budget Spenders and $2500 per year for Big Spenders

It is important to note that the costs in this article are merely approximations, but all the items listed are very important. Some triathletes spend half of the total figure for budget spenders while others fly high above the average figure for big spenders. It all boils down to personal preferences. Some people are as lucky as to land used gears from friends, partners, and family members and hence they end up spending a significantly lower amount.

In addition, triathlon takes place in different places. You can’t expect the prices of triathlon equipment to be the same. 

Budget Spender Total: About $8,000
Big Spender Total: About $34,800

Basically, a triathlete would need about $10k to finish their training successfully. But to be on the safe side and probably get back home with some bucks, the average of the two figures above ([34,800+8,000] ÷2=$21,400) should be enough to see a triathlete through their training.

As you can see, triathlon can be pretty expensive! Nevertheless, the triathletes who participate do it for the love and passion, and not for the money. Because we love this sport, and love the community that this sport represents, we have decided to support four triathletes through the 13 Miles Champions program.

What is the 13 Miles Champions Program?

It’s a way for our movie to support a few triathletes as they write their own story in 2017. These triathletes, two professionals and two amateurs, are to be chosen at the end of January. 50% of all funds we raise through the 13 Miles Champions program (along with a junior triathlete development program in BC) will be distributed to the four triathletes throughout the year.

Break down of funds are as follows:
Male Pro: 15%
Female Pro: 15%
Male Amateur: 7.5%
Female Amateur: 7.5%
Triathlon B.C.'s Pool to Podium Program: 5%

Starting at $1, you can join the 13 Miles Champion sponsorship team. More details at this link here.

Are you a triathlete who wants to be considered for sponsorship? Then click here for more info.

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