After reading a recent blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Sweaty Emily, about a $50 10K entrance fee being too steep to justify paying, I got to thinking about the $600 that I paid to inflict 13-17 hours of pain upon myself on June 24, 2012 at Ironman CDA. Since a marathon lasts about 3-5 hours on average and mine cost about $130, I’d expect an Ironman to cost more since it takes longer to complete. My marathon was actually on the more expensive side since it was one of the Rock n Roll series that includes course music and a beer garden. So let’s say the average marathon costs $100 – an Ironman couldn’t cost more than 3x/ that could it? Yes – try 6x.
Ironman Entry Fee Breakdown
After doing some research, this is what I gather is included in your $600 Ironman race fee (this is Ironman Australia but I’d guess they are all similar):
- Organization of the IRONMAN (race director and staff salaries, volunteer training, office supplies, etc)
- Race day nutrition at the aid stations (Ironman CDA offers Ironman Perform, Powerbars, Powerbar Gels, bananas, pretzels, soda, and more)
- The chance to grab one of 50 slots for Hawaii
- A Welcome gift (for example, a race top)
- Entry to the PastaParty on Friday
- Finisher T-Shirt
- Free 10 Minute Massage after the race (Woo! And perhaps a rehydrating IV?)
- Whirlpools after the Finishline (I’m guessing this is a jacuzzi in Aussie talk?)
- Entry to the Awards Ceremony on Monday (if you don’t sleep through it)
Based on my estimated costs of each of the items above, I’d say the majority goes toward organization of the race because the rest of the perks certainly don’t add up to more than $150, unless they are hosting an 8 course meal with wine pairings for the pasta party and the medals are encrusted with diamonds. And of course, the race needs to make a profit. Ironman is run by the World Triathlon Corporation which is a for-profit organization owned by Providence Equity Partners. I’d love to see their financial statements (that’s the accountant in me speaking).
Honestly, since Ironman will be one of the biggest challenges and therefore biggest accomplishments of my life, I didn’t get too upset about the $600 price tag. However, this fee certainly would deter me from registering for many more 140.6s, given that I survive the first one (if I don’t make it through the first one, I will certainly be signing up for a 2nd). Although the price seems like a lot for me, a 20 something still renting an apartment at the beach, it may not be significant to the average triathlon age grouper who takes home 120k per year from his or her office job. Therefore, I don’t think that the Ironman organization has any reason to lower it’s prices. Not to mention, most Ironman races sell out the day that registration opens and once they sell out, more entries are available for $1,200, half of which goes to a designated charity. All of these double priced entries are usually snatched up as well. It’s supply and demand ladies and gentleman.
Beyond The Entry Fee
The race entry fee is just the beginning of the costs associated with an Ironman. For a half marathon, costs other than the entrance fee probably include a new pair of running shoes ($75-125), a box of Gu ($25) and a shirt with a pocket to hold your Gu ($20). An Ironman is another story. Below is a rough estimate of the additional costs I’ll be incurring in order to call myself an Ironman:
- Supplements – Gu, Cytomax, Protein Bars, Recovery Drinks, Glutamine: $75-100/month
- Extra Food (to fuel 14-20 hours a week of workouts)- $50-100/month
- Bike Tubes/Tires/Etc – $10/month
- (High Quality) Bike Trainer (so that I can train indoors in the Winter): $375
- Indoor Bike Workout DVDs: $29.99 each
- Warm Running and Biking Clothing: $100-300
- 6 nights in a hotel that is walking distance to the start: $550
- Flight: $300
- Rental Car: $75 (my share)
- Bike Shipping: $250
- Dining Out: $300
Possible Savings During Training:
- Alcohol – won’t be much drinking going on!
- Gas – won’t be driving many places other than to train and to work
- Weekend Trips – don’t even think abotu taking a weekend getaway during Ironman training. Weekends are nearly half of a working Ironman’s training volume.
- Food – although I may intend to eat more, I’ve been warned by a 2011 CDA finisher that I may “fall asleep in my spaghetti” out of pure exhuastion (hopefully I can save the spaghetti for the next day!)
Yowza! I didn’t even really realize how much dough I’d be putting down until I wrote it all out. And this doesn’t include all the money I’ve spent so far getting set up for shorter distance triathlons (wet suit, bike tune up, bike fitting, tri suit, bathing suit, goggles, etc). All I have to say is that I better finish this race and hear Mike Reilly call my name and tell me I’m an Ironman! I will remind myself of this blog post if I ever even consider giving up during the race!
In the end, I enjoy triathlon and I enjoy the challenge that the Ironman presents. Although obviously I’d rather not have to spend this money, since I’m spending it on something I love, it’s not so bad. At least I don’t play golf! Now that’s an expensive sport! 😉