Had someone told me last June when I was contemplating whether or not to not only sign up for my first sprint triathlon, but also my first Ironman, that the cost of the adventure would be enough to go on an all expense paid two month European vacation or pay off my car loan, I might have chosen the vacation. Now that I’ve accomplished my goal of becoming an Ironman, I don’t regret the sacrifices I made to get there, but I am quite shocked at how much money I forked over to do it. I use Mint.com for my finances and therefore it was fairly easy for me to track my spending on triathlon over the course of the last year. I think it will be helpful for others considering entering triathlon and/or training for their first Ironman to see what the costs add up to.
Disclaimer: These are the actual costs that I spent for my personal journey to becoming and Ironman and they will vary from person to person depending on your individual needs and preferences. In some areas I spent more than the average person (expensive Garmin, Lululemon running clothes, VO2 Max test, nice bike) and in some I spent less (not that nice of a bike, didn’t buy power for my bike, didn’t get a coach). If talking about money makes you uncomfortable, then don’t read on!
Costs – June – August: Entering the World of Triathlon
When I started triathlon, all I had to my name related to the sport was a pair of running shoes. And even those had to be replaced. Luckily my Dad let me borrow his road bike and Mike bought me some new tires and tubes for it, but I still needed gear to be successful in the sport. At first I tried to buy the bare minimum – I didn’t even buy a cycling jersey for the first three months and instead I wore running tanks on the bike. Despite that, here’s how much I spent on triathlon those first few months:
- Bathing Suit, Swim Cap and Goggles: $29.99 (Had an Active Schwaggle Deal for TYR – expect to pay more than I did).
- Tri Suit: $99.65 (I also had a $50 gift certificate so this was less than the actual price)
- Cycling Helmet, Cycling Shorts, Cleats and Cycling Shoes: $200 (rounded)
- Triathlon Club Membership: $55
- XTerra Wetsuit (Long sleeve): $200
- Supplements & Nutrition (Gu, Cytomax, Recovery): $91.13
- JCC Master’s Swim Card (10 swims): $20
- Other (Running shoes, 1 massage, etc): 217.65
- Total Spent June-August (Excluding Race Fees) for Triathlon Gear: $913.42
Race Entry Fees:
- USAT Membership – 1 Year: $39
- Sprint Triathlon: $88
- Olympic Distance Triathlon: $188.06
- Surf City Marathon: $112.83
- Ironman California 70.3: $321.51
- Ironman Coeur D’Alene: $630
- Total Race Entry Fees: $1,379.40
Buying a New Bike & Becoming a “Real Cyclist”
In the Fall I realized that I needed to stop looking like a “Fred” (Thank you Page for the reference) and should probably buy some real cycling gear instead of sporting running tank tops and designer sunglasses on every ride and wearing the same pair of shorts over and over (Febreeze is my friend). I dropped another $175 at a local female bike shop on cycling jerseys and things like Ho-Ha ride glide. Next up was a spiffy jacket to keep me warm during the winter rides as well as some long cycling pants. Add another $83.38 to that (I had a gift card from Christmas for REI so really this should have been more!). Eventually, I broke down and stopped wearing my designer sunglasses on the bike and swapped them out for a pair of Oakleys, setting me back another $100 (scored a great deal on these too!). Cycling gloves added another $10 (I had a Living Social Deal again!).
As for the bike itself, I was fortunate enough to get a pretty amazing deal on my 2012 Cervelo P2, which is normally $2,800. Cervelo ran a deal around December-January where they offered $1,000 offer per bike if two people purchased bikes together. I worked my magic at our local bike shop to find a random person to split the deal with me and we both walked away with Cervelo’s, mine only costing $1,992.74 (including tax). The P2 is a quality, carbon-fiber bike and is a steal at $2,800, let alone $2k.
Mike actually bought my pedals for me, which were another $100 and then I had to buy myself a woman’s seat since the one that came standard really hurt my hoo-ha. That was another $94.24 (which is inexpensive as far as seats go).
After Oceanside, I bought a new cassette to make hills easier as well as a new chain, adding another $96.63 to the total.
Last, but certainly not least, was a professional bike fitting from a very reputable fitter here in San Diego. I believe everyone should get a good fitting (not a 15 minute one from your local bike shop) and I really regret not getting mine sooner. That set me back $250 but it was well worth it!
Total Bike Expenses: 2,801.99 (not including pedals)
Ironman Training, Travel & Apparel Costs
Here’s where things get crazy! Here are some of my regular costs associated with Ironman that I would expect anyone to also have:
Workout Fuel and Recovery Costs Add Up Fast
- Gym Membership ($10/month) for swimming and treadmill running if raining: $120
- Master’s Swim Classes ($6/class, about 2x a week for 3 months): $114
- 2 more pairs of running shoes: $196.52
- 9 Months of Nutrition (Gu, CarboPro, Glutamine, BCAAs, Stinger Waffles, Nuun): $966.41 (~107.38/month)
- Bike Trainer& Computer for Indoor Riding: $367.74
- Neoprene Cap and Booties: $86.66
- Extra food purchases due to increased hunger and calorie burnage: unable to track, but my monthly food allowance did go up about $100-200/month (this isn’t include in the total below, however).
- Total Necessities: $1,851.33
Here are some of the optional costs that I decided to partake in, that you may or may not want to:
- Vo2 Max & Heart Rate Zone Testing (Holiday Special – Regularly $200) $95
- 1 Video Swim Stroke Analysis & Swim Lesson: $120
- 5 Massages, including tip (1 post Marathon, 4 during Ironman Training – I got a deal for buying a package): $348
- New Garmin Watch: $479.38
- Lululemon Apparel (ie expensive running clothes): $273.69
- Total Extras: $1,116.07
- TriBike Transport for Bike Shipping $300
- Hotel for 6 Nights (6 night minimum stay at nearly all hotels in CdA – this is my half of the room I shared with Mike): $650
- Flight to/from CdA (For me this was free because I opened a Southwest Credit Card and used points to book a flight. However, since I could have used this flight for another trip, I added it to my cost of Ironman): $300
- Ironman Apparel: $281.61 (I went pretty crazy at IM CdA but didn’t buy much at Oceanside 70.3. However I did refrain from buying the Finisher’s Jacket which is I believe $160. I got a finisher’s sweatshirt for $70 instead).
- FinisherPix Photos: $30 (for one download- expect to pay about $170 if you want all the photos)
- Total Ironman Travel/Apparel: $1,561.61
I can’t believe you only have to spend $10 a month on gym membership!! That is amazing.
Also, great post as I am *thinking* about signing up for an Ironman next year….
My family signed up for a group membership to 24 hour fitness when I was 13 years old! My membership is $3 but I pay $10 for the upgrade to the sport clubs that have pools.
I LOVE that you are such a coupon-a-holic!! This scares the crap out of me though and I’m still not sure I should share it with the husband. But thanks for adding this all up, really insightful.
Haha I’m more of a Groupon-a-holic. Mike calls them “anti-money” because although you are getting a deal, you end up spending more money because you have a coupon. Like when you pay $15 for $30 at a restaurant and then end up getting an appetizer, wine and dessert you wouldn’t have gotten because it all seems “free” and then end up with an additional $50 tab on top of your “Free” stuff.
See Becca Try to Tri
That is incredible!
See Becca Try to Tri
And I did get the jacket (thanks to my BF 🙂 )
See Becca Try to Tri
Reblogged this on See Becca Try to Tri and commented:
Interesting summary of what it costs to do an Ironman (money-wise that is)
I do not even want to begin adding up what I spend monthly or yearly…OMG, I really don’t want my husband to ever really figure it out either!! I knew it was a lot, but….WOW! 😉
My guess is that I spent around the same amount! And now I’m doing another one! YIKES! Then maybe I can start saving money? Sigh. The cost to achieve our goals.
ha, i was just working on a post like this! and ironically, i came in around $10k as well…ridiculous, but so worth it!
Great re-cap of expenses. I really enjoyed it…makes me wonder how much I have forked out since 2005…but, I am hooked. I try to do the races I love, races that are new and others that are challenging. It’s never been about winning for me…it’s the pride of accomplishment. Kudos to you!
Wow, I knew triathlon is expensive but I’ve never stopped to think about this in the level of detail you’ve presented it. Amazinbg what you can afford when you want something and incorporate it into your life.
omg…that is crazy!! I guess there is no price for a dream though right?! Loved this post because I’ve always wondered how much all the costs would add up to myself. My cheap self is sticking to running 😉
AMEN! I added up all of my stuff, and I was around 11k, so right in the same ball park! You and I have similar priorities for sure- I love triathlon but I cant afford to do another Ironman while I am in PT school. I need to use the little money I have for other things.
Granted the next ironman will be less expensive since we wont have to buy bikes and all that jazz…but its still a lot of money!
For 2011 I tagged all of my expenses in Mint for running: shoes, clothes, travel, etc.and holy crap – eye opening. Certainly not 10k, but good lord I spent a lot of money!! I guess some of it probably wasn’t necessary (3 pairs of Brooks Adrenalines in different colors?) but spread out over the year it was ridiculous. This year I reigned in the spending quite a bit.
Kelly @ My love affair with running
Who would have thought fitness would be so expensive??!?!
I just got a Garmin as well, LOVE it! Definitely a great luxury 😉
UGH. I started keeping a spreadsheet after I signed up but ditched it last fall. UGH.
That’s pretty amazing. I’m just doing a half-IM in August, and got into tri’s last year. So I thought that this year would be relatively (key word) economical, but that’s a laugh!
Wow. I’ve always wanted to do an ironman but after seeing the cost I might have to rethink it. Definitely wont be happening anytime soon
That’s coming from literally NOTHING – if you already have gear (a bike especially) you can shave $3-4k off.
In Europe (France in particular), it is quite a lot cheaper to race triathlons (even if 1€ is worth more than a $ these days!).
Fees are around 30€ for a sprint/OD, and even if M-dot races are as expensive as in the US, you can find many (MANY!) 226 or 113 races for reasonable fees (less than 100€ for half-distance, less than 150 € for full-D). Plus, we can drive to most of the races since distances are shorter round here =)
A bike (and all the gear associated with it) is the most expensive to buy, but since you already own one (and a good one!), you only have to buy tyres and tubes for it: 150€ per year max.
You can also chose to buy a second-hand bike – I bargained an almost new (less than 2k miles rode on it by its previous owner) S-Works Transition for 3k€ last year…
Glad to see you’re back on the saddle and racing triathlons again since it looks like you’re a gifted young lady!
Keep up the good work!