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