Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Well, I've been looking and looking on Commodore's blog for the post discussing whether triathlon is a sport for the well-to-do, and I can't find it. Help me out here, Comm. Where is it?

I've been thinking about this ever since he posted it.

Is triathlon expensive? Definitely.
Is it a sport of the affluent? Not necessarily.

I'm anything but affluent but I hang in there in triathlon. I admit I'm a cheapskate. Not by choice but by necessity. We retired on not really enough of a nest egg, lost my nurse's income, and went from salary to pension for my husband. We get along. Sometimes we have to work, not so much to make ends meet as to have stuff. Satellite TV and computer, for instance. And so that I can pursue triathlon.

I wear DeSoto Sports tri suits, shorts and jerseys I've gotten on eBay. $25 for a $125 tri suit. $20 for a $60 pair of shorts. $11 for a $50 jersey.

My 70-oz Camelbak was $14.95 on eBay (a discontinued no-frills-no-bulk-and-no-external-fill model that used to retail for about $40.) I made pockets out of a calico bandana and sewed them on.

Bento Box, $10 on eBay. Gel-flask holder with flask, $4.95 on eBay. Set of 4 gel-flask replacement caps, $1.99 on eBay (no one else apparently needed any.)

I got a $400 X-Terra triathlon wetsuit on eBay for $150. Never worn.

I had to budget around all these items. Each of them meant a choice between having that and having or doing something else (except the small-change items like the flask caps and holder.) I saved for the wetsuit and then waited until one I wanted was up for auction, and crossed my fingers that I'd get it.

I get polyester/nylon/cotton (not much cotton) socks at Wal-Mart, something like $5 for 3 pairs. I get my bike gloves at Wal-Mart ($6.95 Bell's.) I get my sunglasses at Wal-Mart ($8.95 Panama Jack). I get my sport bras at Wal-Mart ($6.95 FOTL.) I get my swimsuits at Wal-Mart, or did, until my favorite Catalina one-piece came out this year with tacky molded-foam bra-cups. So I didn't get a new swimsuit this year. Oops, yes I did.... a zip-back Zoot trisuit/swimsuit with quick-dry fleece pad. $12 on eBay. Half the price of the Wal-Mart Catalina suit at that. Except for the ones I bought half-price at the end of the summer a couple years ago that I'm tossing one at a time as they wear out.

And of course my 100-lap Timex Ironman watch came from Wal-Mart, like everyone else's.

I do have retail Cat-1 road shoes. $99 from Performance Bike, on sale from $149. Big budget item. And a Giro helmet. And I do have a nice Trek 2100 Womens' Special Design road bike. That cost nearly what we saved last summer by working for our campsite.

And I do pay a coach. She gives me a senior discount. But I'm still a month behind.

There are things I want. Like, to do more tri's, probably Oly distance, but at $65-85 per event plus getting there, I don't do much of it. I used my whole last gym paycheck to register for the ChesapeakeMan AquaVelo that Nancy and I are doing Sept. 30 as training for IMFL. Steve commented that $185 was a lot to shell out for a training ride. But it's the only event I've done since the Arizona Senior Olympics tri in March. Oops, no, forgot the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon in June. That wasn't awfully expensive, $35, and the room cost $89 for the one night, and I had 2 roommates who shared the cost with me, and the pasta dinner was INCLUDED in the registration cost, so I had no food costs, took hand-to-mouth food with me in the car which I borrowed from our son to save the cost of driving 300 miles each way with our Ford 250 diesel truck. I didn't spend much on that marathon.

Twice this summer, most recently this past weekend, my bike has needed adjustment and/or parts plus labor that came to nearly $100. That meant doing without something else. Like a new red $50 Camelbak with a wide-mouth external-fill feature, quicker refill on the bike course at IMFL. Like a new pair of red Trek bike gloves ($24.95). Like an Ironman helmet ($50) and red Michelin Ironman triathlon tires ($50 each.) I will probably get new tires before IMFL and maybe I can find red ones, but they'll probably be $30 each and they won't say Ironman on them. I now have a shiny new rear cassette that doesn't cause my chain to skip in the outer gears, but I don't have some of the other things I was hoping to get. They'll have to wait.

And do I want all these new red accessories for IMFL, or do I want to save on the cost and have money to buy stuff at the humongous expo when I'm there?

Quite possibly everyone else has the same budget issues but doesn't dwell on them or post about them. But I've been thinking about it ever since Commodore's post, how much I'd like to spend on triathlon vs. how much I can spend and how much I actually spend.

Triathlon is definitely expensive.

But you don't have to spend a lot of money to do it. You just look for where you can cut a deal, and spread your deals out over time. And in between, you save for them.


nancytoby said...

My tires are Continental Grand Prix 4000s from Coloradocyclist.com for $49. They have bright red.

I don't look at triathlon as more expensive than any other major lifestyle-type hobby. Sailing, horses, travel, skiing, etc., all can be done for top dollar or on the cheap too.

Flo said...

It's true. Tri can be expensive or reasonable if you're willing to work at it.

I too have to balance my tri stuff with life stuff. I always look for sales when looking for tri stuff. I got 2 great trisuits at Tri-Zone in their clearance section for around $35.00.

What I do hate is having to pick which tris to enter. Here in Hawaii most tris will cost you $100 and there's one almost every weekend. That can get crazy.

Bolder said...

i'm with Nancy, compared to boating, triathlon is cheap.

plus, what price can you put on your health.

now, if you want to defray the cost of triathlons, then stick to the local within driving distance ones -- it costs more to ship your bike than you to most TRIs!

runr53 said...

You oughta teach some of us neophites how to "do" EBay! That thig scares me, and there ain't a lot that does! Run Good!

Downhillnut said...

Nancy's got it that triathlon is not just an activity, it's a lifestyle. If you really want to do it, there's an affordable way.

I admire frugality and thank you for sharing about how do it without spending a fortune.

Of course, on that note, I don't really want to do it enough yet. I think I'll just stick to choosing my next pair of running shoes for now :)

jessie_tri_mn said...

Thanks for this post. In a time of trying to figure out how to fit my lifestyle into a new budget (ugh, babies are expensive!)... I'm certainly not wealthy, I work for Government ;)

I need to work on this ebay thing. Looks like you've got it down!

Cliff said...

Compare to other activities (as Nancy said), tri ain't necessarily expensive.

It is, however, can be a time consuming sport (especially if u go for the longer distance like Ironman).

I have in my budget did during the tough times cut back on social going out and fancy gadget for tri gears...

i realize that i don't need a lot to just survive. :0)

Geek Girl said...

Actually, I forget where Husband got this info, but apparently triathlon is disporportionaly represented by those who are well-educated and those with incomes above the median.
However, as I've found, there are no shortcuts. It's nice to have good equipment, but there's no substitute for busting my ass and training.
Just some FYI trivia.

Ellie said...

Hmmm. I guess I'm above the median in eduction (Associate's Degree,nursing) as is my husband (Bachelor's Degree, forestry.) And I will stick my neck out and say I'm quite sure my intelligence is above the median. Income... well, I guess we used to be, when we were double-income-no-more-kids, but that didn't last long... now we're back to making do, but NO ONE is going to stop me from doing my triathlons and marathons. I just won't have Oakley sunglasses.