How to do a triathlon on a budget

Triathlon on a budget

It’s fair to say that triathlon is an expensive sport. The three different disciplines come with their own costs and when combined the expense really racks up. However, cost shouldn’t be a barrier to entry as it’s definitely possible to do a triathlon on a budget.

When starting out in triathlon, you don’t need top of the range equipment. It’s best to start out with the basics and gradually upgrade over time if you find that you enjoy the sport.

I’d say the three biggest expenses are a wetsuit, a bike and race entries- here are some ways to save money:

Swim

For a triathlon swim, the wetsuit will be your biggest investment. Wetsuits can range in price up to £500+ so this can be a huge expense unless you shop around to find a good deal. Make sure you choose a wetsuit which is for triathlon/swimming, rather than surfing or other watersports as it won’t have the right buoyancy and flexibility.

Several companies offer wetsuits for hire for the season or even just for a two week period, so this is worth considering for your first triathlon.

The Lomo Challenger was my first wetsuit- at £79 this is at the more affordable end of the market. It served me well for the first 3 years of triathlon racing. Also, check out Decathlon’s wetsuit range which starts at £69.99.

Bike

A bike can easily be the biggest expense, but there is no need to splash out on a top of the range tri bike when you are starting out. There is nothing to stop you using a mountain bike or hybrid in a triathlon, but if you do want to invest in a road bike look out for a second-hand bargain.

Check out eBay, Facebook groups or try your local triathlon club to see if anyone is selling a bike. When searching online, look out for warning signs that the bike could be stolen- if the price is too cheap then there usually is a reason. Thoroughly inspect the bike, particuarly the frame for any cracks.

My first races were on a second-hand Barracuda road bike, bought from my swim instructor. I’ve since donated that to another newbie to help her get started in triathlon.

Decathlon has a range of affordable entry-level road bikes. If your employer offers the Cycle to Work Scheme, you can make huge savings on a brand-new bike as it will be tax free.

Race Entries

Now you’ve got your kit, it’s time to enter your first race! Entry fees can come as a bit of a shock as they range from £40 for a local sprint triathlon up to £450+ for a long-distance Ironman. However, there are ways to save money on race entries.

Several race organisers offer reduced entry fees in exchange for volunteering at their events. Some that I’m aware of are:

Castle Series- a free race place, up to and including Olympic Distance Triathlon, is rewarded in return for a day’s volunteering.
113 Events- marshall at an event and receive £20 cash or a £40 113 Events discount voucher.
Dengie Events- receive 20% off race entry in exchange for volunteering at an event.
Tri Project-  volunteers will receive a free race voucher that can be reclaimed against any Tri Project race.
Island Races- marshalls receive a £25 voucher to use to register for another event.

Volunteering at a triathlon is also a great way for beginners to experience a triathlon and understand how race day works.

For my first triathlon, I was lucky enough to win my entry through a Twitter competition- that certainly saved me some money and gave me the push I needed to get started. I’m returning the favour and giving away an entry to the London Duathlon for you and a friend on my Instagram- entries close on 2nd February 2019.h

Other tips for doing a triathlon on a budget

  • Learn how to maintain your own bike to save money on labour charges from a bike shop.
  • Cancel your gym membership and set up a home gym for strength training.
  • Join a triathlon club- usually as a membership perk you will receive discounts on products/services such as sports massage and triathlon kit, as well as access to coaching.
  • Make your own sports nutrition rather than spending out on bars and shakes.
  • Buy last season’s model of trainers- they’re exactly the same only in a different colour.

Do you have any other trips for doing a triathlon on a budget?

2 Comments

  1. February 11, 2019 / 9:13 pm

    Hi Lucy, several years ago I bought my first wetsuit secondhand from a hire company. It was one season old and appeared to have been barely used – a half-price bargain.

    Also, it’s worth considering an event’s location. Distant events can incur travel costs and may require an overnight stay.

  2. February 1, 2019 / 10:06 am

    Great post Lucy. That’s so useful about the race entry – I was looking into volunteering! Another one to add is if you volunteer at The Bridge triathlon, you can get free entry into Midnight Man I think.

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