Triathlon Financial Planning 101

So last night Bruce & I did a financial planning exercise where we looked at our current state, where we want to be in five years, all the things we want to do, how much they will cost, and how we will pay for them. Let’s just say that several glasses of wine later, he looked at me and said – you should blog about how much this sport costs!

I’ve written a couple of posts about some of the costs of running/triathlon before. And while there are definitely ways to cut costs, getting started in this sport is expensive.

As a rough estimate, the initial capital outlay included:

Road bike/accessories: ~$2500 per person
Wetsuit/accessories: ~$600 per person

We already had running gear, so thankfully there were no major additional costs here. Were there ways we could have saved money here? Yes. Second hand items would have saved us money. The issue? We live in a relatively small city, and although we scoured the triathlon association website, in 4 months I saw 1 used wetsuit for sale, and it was the wrong size. As for a bike, there were a couple, but not knowing anything about what we needed, we both wanted a professional fitting, and bought locally.

So once you have all the gear, your expenses drop, right? Well, kind of. We currently budget $200 a month to cover sporting expenses, plus another $75 for our family gym membership (I count this separately as it also covers our kids swimming lessons). $2400 a year sounds like a lot, right? Let’s do the math:

Good running shoes cost $160-$200 a pair in Canada, and need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. We go through about 3 pairs a year. We try to find sales, buy older models on clearance, etc. to save money, and sometimes we get lucky – we got two high end pairs in Florida for $197 total. A great price!

So figure easily $600 of that money for shoes. Then there are race fees. We just registered for our first Half marathon of the season – $75 each. That’s a pretty average race cost – some are more, some less. Last year, we ran 5 races together, and Bruce ran at least one by himself. That is over $800 in race fees.

That still leaves almost $1000 left, right? Well, sure, but then there are all the little things you need. GU for nutrition while running. Socks. Goggles. Swimsuits (I paid $22 each for two last year, they lasted 1 year. I just paid $35 each for 2 more, I hope these ones last a little longer). Bike maintenance – an annual check up, plus any parts that need to be repaired/replaced like tires. Plus as you use them more and more, some clothes just need replacing. It does not matter how well you treat them, some fabrics get hard and crusty after being worn too often, and that leads to nasty chafing!

This does not factor in any additional costs that we incur, such as extra fuel required to drive out to a lake to practice open water swimming 1-2 times a week all summer long (I think we figured about $20 a trip in gas), travel costs for getting to races if they are not local, hotel and meal costs… it all adds up. A lot.

Add to that the desire to do a destination race (or two, or three….). And the fact that Ironman race entry fees start at ~$275 for and Ironman 70.3, and $550 for a full! (Rev3 races are less expensive, but there are fewer of them and most of them are farther away for us too – more travel costs). It gets crazy!

Bruce did have a point though – if we are going to train this hard to do this distance, we want to make sure we get to do an interesting race. This year, simply due to other costs we will be incurring (a 40th birthday trip to Las Vegas!), we have decided we cannot do a destination Ironman 70.3. There is a non-branded half Iron distance race held locally (about 2 hours from here), we will do that race instead. Same distance, way less cost. Then we will do a branded Half Iron race next year, and push the full distance back to 2014.

If we plan for it, we can have everything we want… we just can’t have it all right now! 🙂

Daily goals: Yesterday went pretty well! I ran, we did budget planning, and I wrote 1 blog post. Not bad. Plus I had lunch with a friend, got some set up work done for a new website, and made two fantastic batches of chilli (beef for Bruce, 3 bean & turkey for me). Today I want to get a lot of house stuff done.

1. Write 2 blog posts (I keep trying!)
2. Clean fridge
3. Clean freezer
4. Pack clothes to donate
5. Write text for new website

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5 Responses to Triathlon Financial Planning 101

  1. auntiekim says:

    Wow. Prior to this past week I would have had no idea that you spent that much money on this stuff. Not sure if you saw my post but we’re reconsidering doing the Disney half this year because of the expense. There’s a local one on the same day for 1/10 of the cost. You start adding everything up and BAM! It’s expensive!!

    I really appreciate you laying out the expenses like this. As we’ve been researching races for this year and seeing the costs…wow. 🙁

    • Kris says:

      Yes, it adds up fast! Especially when two of you are participating! I mean, you spend so much time training, you want to really enjoy the race experience, but do you do one really expensive race, or multiple (cheaper) local races? Tough call!

  2. Crissie says:

    You’re not kidding that the Tri sport isn’t cheap! I started a year ago, and haven’t had to buy a wetsuit yet (only have done pool swims, but that ends this May). I was lucky to buy a nice used bike through a local bike shop for $400 (the woman I bought it for’s husband. The trainer was $200, and my helmet was $100. And the shoes and pedal were another $80, plus another $30 for a tune up and having it fitted for me. So while I got my biking gear for $810, that’s still scary when you’re not sure if you’re going to love the multi-sport life.

    • Kris says:

      You got good deals! We also had the added issue of living in a fairly small city, and no where close to anything larger, so not a lot of competition means slightly higher prices too! But fortunately, we love the multi-sport life! And we bought gear that will last us for years, so no major expenses in the near future.

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