Breaking Into the Sport – A Look at the Expense of Triathlon

Ask any triathlete and they will tell you unhesitatingly that their sport can be an expensive undertaking. Before the starting gun goes off for even the most novice triathlete, they have purchased (or at least rented) a bike, helmet, running shoes, shorts, top, swim goggles and depending on the water temperature of their chosen event, maybe even a wet suit. Not to mention the race entry fee and transportation to the event. As with any sport or hobby, the variables affecting expenditures are many, just a couple of which include quality of equipment purchased and number of races entered. All of which got me thinking – how big of a hit has my wallet taken over the past two years since delving into this sport? I decided to add it all up – from the equipment purchases to the cost of the gels I’ve consumed and everything in between. The figures that follow are guesstimates and more than likely would not pass an IRS audit, but they do give a ballpark glimpse into the financial bloodletting of one poor SOB (me) over the course of two years as he goes from complete beginner to Iron Man-ready. (I, in all likelihood have just jinxed myself into a DNF in Cozumel this November).

I post these figures not to discourage the potential triathlete from entering the sport – far from it – but rather to satisfy my own morbid curiosity regarding the monetary cost of the sport since nearly drowning during my first swim in 2008 (see prior post). These figures don’t begin to capture the undeniably positive results from two years spent swimming, cycling and running. From the obvious health benefits to the camaraderie of doing all of this sweating and grunting with other crazy people to the often underestimated perk of wearing skin-tight lycra shorts in public in a socially acceptable way (unlike the other times I wear skin-tight lycra shorts in public), triathlon training is a life-altering and wonderful endeavor.

For ease of recollection, I’ve broken the expenses down by equipment, race dues and travel/miscellaneous expenses. I was surprised at the grand total. The bright spot is that as expensive as it is to break into the sport, the front end is where the lion’s share of the expenses are incurred. Once the requisite equipment is purchased, the only continuing expenses are race fees, travel and maintaining and/or replacing equipment. As such, years three and four should be substantially less expensive for me than years one and two. Further, when compared to some other hobbies over the course of two years – let’s say golf for example – the expenses of triathlon are likely not substantially higher, and possibly much lower. Whatever the case, in my estimation, it has all been money well spent and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

At any rate, without further delay, here is my completely unscientific and non-accountant-certified look back at my triathlon expenses to date.

Equipment Cost        Race Entry Fees Cost           Travel/Misc Cost

Used Felt Bike $800    White Lake Sprint ’09 $55            KBS** hotel (2 nights) $220
Fugi Bike $1,500           Kure Beach Sprint ’09 $55           LLO% hotel (1 night)* $50
Used Mountain Bike $250  Lake Logan Olympic ’09 $65  B2B hotel (3 nights) $195
Road petals/clips $125  B2B 1/2 Iron Man ’09 $170      WLS^ campground* $10
Mtn petals/clips $60    White Lake Sprint ’10 $55          KLO# cabin* $75
Jerseys (four) $350       Kerr Lake Olympic ’10 $65        KBS** hotel (2 nights) $220
Bike shorts (four) $300  Kure Beach Sprint ’10 $55         LLO% hotel (1 night)* $55
Bike socks (four) $50      Lake Logan Olympic ’10 $65      AHIM~ hotel (1 night) $100
Helmet $100                     Augusta 1/2 Iron Man ’10 $350   B2B hotel (3 nights) $195
Sweat gutter $12.50       B2B Relay* $100                             IMC! Hotel (7 nights) $1,687
Gloves (two pair) $50    Iron Man Cozumel $550             USAT Membership $40
Garmin $225                                                                                     FreeHouba dues $150
Cat Eye computer $80                                                                  Gels/food (WAG) $1,000
Road bike shoes $75                                                              Gas (WAG) $750
Mtn bike shoes $50                                                                IMC! Airfare $500
Fitting for road bike $150
Bottle holders $100
Tools $75
Tubes, Tires, C2O $200
Water bottles (4) $80
Sunglasses (two) $130
Swim trunks (two) $100
Goggles (three pair) $105
Running shoes (x 5) $570
Running clothes $190
Pool bouy $25
Wet suit $200
Bike rack/hitch $400
Home bike storage $150
Wind jacket $75

Totals:            $6,577.50                      $1,585                         $5,247

Grand Total:   $13,409.50

* designates my portion of a shared expense
** designates Kure Beach Sprint
~ designates Augusta Half Iron Man
! Designates Iron Man Cozumel
% designates Lake Logan Olympic
WAG = Wild Assed Guess

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