If you are new to the sport of triathlon and thinking perhaps of taking on the Ironman, here are three tips for a low budget first Ironman Triathlon.
There is a misconception out there that the Ironman is only for those who have lots of money.
When you walk into bike or triathlon stores, or look through triathlon magazines you will most likely be a bit overwhelmed by all the expensive gear and equipment there is to choose from and you might automatically think it’s beyond your budget.
Yes, there are plenty of expensive options when it comes to gearing up for your first Ironman Triathlon, but it doesn’t mean you have to go that route.
If money is no object, than by all means treat yourself to the very best, but on the other hand don’t let yourself be discouraged because you’re on a tight budget.
There is always a way to make it to the start line of the Ironman.
BUY BASIC GEAR
There are some things that you just have to have and there is really no way to get around it, but there are inexpensive options.
You need swim goggles, swim suit, running shoes, running top, running shorts, cycling jacket, cycling shoes, cycling helmet, cycling shorts, cycling jersey, and sunglasses.
Even at today’s prices I really believe you could buy all this for $400 or less and that’s not bad considering the wealthy triathlete will spend $200 just on sunglasses alone. On top of that they might spend $180 on a pair of running shoes.
The main reason you need sun-glasses is to protect your eyes from dirt and flying insects out on the bike course. Other than that it’s all about looking cool.
A $15 pair of sunglasses will deflect that bee just as well as a $200 pair.
I always bought good running shoes, but I always asked to see the models from the previous year. Pretty much every store has some in the back room so don’t be shy about asking.
Expensive or cheap, you are going to be one hurtin’ triathlete on the Ironman marathon course, so don’t worry about what model year your running shoes are or whether or not they are neon pink or blue. It won’t matter.
Swim goggles are priced anywhere from $10 to $50. It’s all about fit. There’s no reason you can’t find a pair of swim goggles for $12-$20 that will fit you just fine. If they don’t leak, they’re gold. That’s all you have to remember.
You can always find swimsuits, running gear and cycling gear on sale.
A good quality tri-suit might be the best option of all because you can wear it in the swim, bike, and run.
The three best options is to do your shopping in the Winter, right after Christmas, or online. If you walk into a bike shop in the Spring or early Summer, I can guarantee you will be paying top dollar. Buy your bike stuff when there’s three feet of snow on the ground.
It took me about 30 seconds to do a Google search for inexpensive tri gear. Here’s one for you……Try visiting TYR.com.
I’m not at all affiliated with them, but I just went to their site as I was writing this because I remembered wearing TYR swimsuits for most of Ironman career because they were cost effective……..and that was before there was in Internet.
Yeah, yeah. You think I forgot about a wetsuit. No I didn’t. I would really recommend you rent a wetsuit for your first Ironman. Sure people will say you should train in one all year, but that’s not necessary.
Just be sure you are fitted properly and then swim in it a few times at the Ironman venue and you’ll be good to go. Wearing a wetsuit sucks at the best of times and that’s not going to change no matter how many times you wear it.
WHAT ABOUT A BIKE?
If you don’t get yourself an $8000 bike that’s been tested in a wind tunnel you’ll never be an Ironman…
Chances are if you’re on a bike like that in your first Ironman Triathlon about 500 people will pass you on their beaters and say nice bike!..as they leave you in their dust.
First of all, before I say anything about what bike to choose, remember this…
Fit is the key!
Make sure someone who knows that they’re doing fits that bike to you no matter how much you spend on it, because the fit of the bike will have a huge impact on how your Ironman day turns out.
If it’s your first and perhaps only Ironman, there’s no need to be buying a tricked out triathlon bike.
Regardless of cost, a triathlon bike is not your best choice if you’re new to cycling long distances simply because it’s harder to handle.
A standard road bike is much more forgiving when it comes to cornering and overall handling and also comes out far ahead in the comfort category.
As a rule, a tri bike is configured lower for the sake or aerodynamics and straight ahead speed and not necessarily for ease of handling.
The customary drop handlebars of a road bike allow for many different hand positions and you will be glad you have them when you’re out on that 112-mile bike course.
There’s a very good chance you’ll be able to find a used rode bike for well under $1000 in good enough condition to get you through the training and the race itself.
It’s a simple matter to have water-bottle holders, quick release pedals, and aero-bars attached.
You may even find a used road bike with all the accessories attached if you happen to find a triathlete who is moving up to a triathlon bike from a road bike.
Once you have crossed the Ironman finish line for the first time you may decide it’s the only Ironman you’ll be doing.
Some people just want to check it off their bucket list or perhaps they are not able to commit to training year after year because of work or family obligations.
That’s one very good reason for not spending tons of money on gear you will only race with once.
On the other hand, if you decide to make a career out of triathlon you can always upgrade to a triathlon bike at a later date.
IRONMAN TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION
With so many Ironman races to choose from these days, one of the smartest things you can do if you are trying to cut costs is pick a race within driving distance of your home.
There are just so many advantages.
For instance you can take along as many people as the car will hold at no added cost. Take your significant other, parents, friends, or whoever. The cost to drive there and back stays the same.
That’s not the case if you decide to fly. Your $150 in gas can quickly become thousands of dollars in airfare.
You are also saving because there will be no need to rent a car when you get to the venue.
PLUS……if you book a kitchenette with stove and refrigerator you can purchase much of your food at home to take to the race.
Many Ironman races are at resorts like Lake Placid, Lake Tahoe, Whistler, or Mont Tremblant and you will usually pay top dollar for groceries.
You have the distinct advantage of eating the same type of food that fueled you through all your training.
A motel kitchenette is not just way more practical than a hotel room it’s often far less expensive.
Tricked out tri bike….$3000-$4000 Wetsuit….$300-$1000 Top end sunglasses, bike gear, running shoes, and clothing….$500-$700 Airfare, Hotel, Car rental, restaurants–another $1500-$3000 (depending how far and how many people are traveling with you). Race entry about $600.
You first Ironman Triathlon could well cost $5000-$8000.
If you use these Three tips for a low budget first Ironman Triathlon you will not only save thousands of dollars, you will probably have a better race.
You will have a more comfortable bike that is more forgiving and easier to handle than a tri bike, plus you will be eating smarter and not taking the risk of eating food you’re not used to.
Best of all, more people can come along and experience the Ironman with you without increasing the cost of travel.