Triathlon is an Expensive Hobby: The Cost of Triathlon Swimming, Cycling and Running

Many people choose running as their fitness hobby because it is relatively inexpensive. All it takes is a couple of pairs of shoes each year and some bargain running gear. Cycling as a recreational endeavour is also inexpensive. Anyone can pick up a used bike and head out on the road. Swimming alone is also a fairly cheap form of recreation.

All you have to do is put on a suit and head to the local pool, or lake. It would only follow logically that if these three disciplines were combined into one sport, it would be an inexpensive one in which to participate. Do not be fooled! This is not necessarily the case. Triathlon, the one sport that combines these three can be quite costly.

To just finish a triathlon of short distance, without any concern for performance or completion time, is probably still a cheap competitive option. Some sprint distance triathlons have entry fees of less than $100.00 and any cheap bike that can cover the distance will suffice, but if an athlete wants to improve in triathlon and perform well at longer distances, then the sport can become quite expensive.

Training for a long distance triathlon will take at least 6 months and probably closer to a year or more. The entry fees for half Ironman races start at around $200.00 and for full Ironman races it will cost at least $500.00. Then there is the travelling expense and accomodation, unless the atlete happens to live in an Ironman town. To train properly and compete in a recognized Ironman or half-Ironman distance race, the following purchases will be necessary.

  • Several pairs of good quality running shoes
  • Running rain gear
  • A reasonably good racing bike
  • An extra set of wheels
  • Extra tires and tubes
  • Water bottles and cages
  • Helmet
  • Cycling shoes and cleats
  • Bike light
  • Wetsuit
  • Goggles(several pairs)
  • Weights or gymnasium costs
  • Various other small expenses (bandaids, fluid replacement drinks, nutrition bars, vitamin supplements etc.)


Triathlon Swimming

Many triathlons recommend the purchase of a wetsuits for participation. These suits are necessary for swimming in water from 10 to about 24 degrees. A good wetsuit will cost between $150-$400! There is also the cost of a swimming facility or gym(unless one lives in warm weather all year round, with an open water venue nearby). $300-$500 a year. There is the expense of goggles. A reasonably good pair will set you back about $15-$20 and an athlete will probably need 3 or 4 pairs at least. A couple of swim suits will cost about $80-$100. This will bring the swimming expenses to somewhere between $600-$1000!

Triathlon Cycling and Running

This is where the sport really gets expensive! A cheap bike, one that will get you to the finish line and is legal for the sport, can be purchased for about $400 new or $200 used. Add about $250 for a helmet, tires, tubes, water bottles, light etc. and a cheap bike could be purchased for between $500-$700. Remember that this is the minimum. A mid-level bike and supplies will probably run about $1500-$2000, and a top level bike, about $2500-$4000. At this point, the athlete might already be feeling the financial pinch ID88. To train for a year for the running leg will probably require at least 4 pairs of running shoes, various running gear and fluid replacement gear. This will probably cost the participant at least $500. This figure can rise quickly if the athlete needs special shoes, or orthotic devices.

Triathlon Money Saving Tips

It quickly becomes apparent that training for and participating in a long distance triathlon is not for those with very limited financial resources. It is something that requires long term financial planning, excellent shopping skills and a great deal of dedication. Many first time triathletes are surprised by the costs. Some possible money saving tips include combining the triathlon with the family vacation. Many triathlons are set up in good vacation spots. Entrance fees and travel fees are also usually cheaper if booked well in advance. Registering in a race closer to home can also have huge cost benefits. Some bike stores also rent bicycles for participation, so shop around!Remember, the training and dedication required to train for the race is immense. It is important not to let financial shortcomings stand in the way. Think through the finances. Plan your expenses carefully. There are more to these races than throwing on a swimsuit, hopping on an old bike, and lacing up a well worn pair of runners.

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