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Hack a Triathlon: Get started under $100

Do you want to race a triathlon, but you are on a tight budget? There’s no doubt about it. Racing triathlons can get very expensive. Super light carbon fiber bikes, and high tech training tools add up quickly. You don’t have to be tech millionaire to get started. In this post, we will show you how to get started with the right equipment, without emptying your wallet.

swim goggles

Swim – $25

Swimming should be cheap right? All I should need is myself and a swim suit. You’re pretty close. You need a swimsuit and a pair of goggles. Women typically have a one piece suit they can wear. For men, I suggest training in trunks, but racing in your bike shorts.

A decent pair of goggles should cost around $25. Here’ a link to some Aqua Spheres for $20.

Mountain bike in garage

Bike – $65

A bike is the mostly costly piece of equipment for Triathlon. Triathlon bikes can get crazy expensive.  A full carbon race bike with aero wheels will easily take a couple months of your salary. I recommend using the bike you already have. If you have a geared bike of any type, that will be great for your first race. This includes mountain bikes, road bike, or a hybrid. I don’t recommend beach cruisers, as they don’t have hand brakes, and can be dangerous at speed.

What if I don’t have a bike? Ask someone to borrow one. Many people buy great bikes, and the bike sit in the garage unridden. After you tell them of your plan to race your first triathlon, they will be happy to help out.

Besides the bike, you need a couple more items. First, you need a helmet. Triathlon rules state you wear a helmet at all times when you are on a bike. If you are racing in warm conditions, you want a helmet with good ventilation. Here’s a link to a Giro helmet for $30.

Also, I recommend buying bicycle shorts. Bicycle shorts have padding in the seat, and make riding much more comfortable. Also you can wear them as your race bottoms for the whole event. Here’s a link to some Canari shorts, that will work nicely:


Hit the Road, Runner


Run – Maybe $50 or $0

Here’s where the cheap skates can rejoice. We’re going to assume you are still clothed from the bike leg, so all you need is a pair of running shoes. You probably already have some running shoes. If not, check some deal sites to get some really great deals on running shoes. If you are not sure  what running shoe is best for you, go to your local running store for a consult. They will happy to help you out, even if you don’t buy there right now.

Here’s some sites with great deals on running shoes:

Joe’s New Balance Outlet

Running Warehouse

Now go and scrounge up $100

There you have it. If you have a bike to use, and some running shoes sitting in the back of your closet, you can be training and racing for under $100. The expense of triathlon shouldn’t hold you back from trying something new and exciting. Once you get hooked on triathlon, then you will need that second job. Happy Training!

For tips on choosing your first race. Click Here

First Race Esstentials

August Photos (26 of 29)

Triathlon can be an expensive sport, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of the gear required to complete your first race, you probably already have.  You may need to purchase a couple of  items, but can make due with some things you already have.

Here’s a bare bones list of the must have items by discipline:


Swim Suit – If your first race is in a pool or in warm water all you need is a swim suit. For ladies,  I would recommend a one piece for comfort. For guys, you can swim in your bike shorts, or your favorite board shorts.

Goggles – You may need to buy a good pair of goggles, if you don’t already have them. A decent pair of goggles cost $20-40. Be sure to try them on before buying. Everyone’s face is shaped differently, and you want them to fit comfortably.

Swim Cap – Most races will provide you with a swim cap for the race.


Bicycle – I guess this is kind of obvious, but think of what you can already use. There’s no need to drop a whole paycheck on a new bike. If you have a bike that fits you, and has gears, you are good to go. I have seen people use beach cruisers. I would not recommend a cruiser, because they are heavy, don’t have gears, or hand brakes.

Also, ask around to borrow a bike. Many people have a perfectly good bike collecting dust in the garage.

Helmet – All races will require you to wear a helmet any time you are on the bike. The helmet must have a CPSC sticker inside. Don’t worry all helmets sold legally in the US are required to have the sticker. Helmets can be had for a reasonable price online.

Bike/Tri Shorts – Bike/Tri shorts are made of lycra and have padding in the seat. This is one item I highly recommend purchasing. You can use them during training, and racing. The tight fit and extra padding will help prevent the discomfort of the bike seat. If you use regular gym shorts, chaffing will occur when you get sweaty.

Toe Clips/Bike Shoes/Clipless Pedals (Optional) – Some older road bikes have toe clips on the pedals. The clips go around the toe of the shoe, and help you pull the pedal up. Same with clipless pedals, where you shoes clip into the pedal. With toe clips, you can use your running shoes during the bike. Toe clips would be best for new bike riders or first time triathletes.

If you borrow a bike with clipless pedals and chose to use them, you will also need shoes with cleats to go into the pedals. There are many different pedal and cleat types, so be sure to get the right match. The most common is the SPD cleat. These are the same cleats used on Spin bikes. So you can use your shoes for Spin classes as well.


Running Shoes – This is the only real need for the run. This is the most important piece of equipment. Spend some time to research which shoes are best  fit for you. The wrong shoes can cause discomfort or worse, injury. Most running stores can assess your form and fit, and get you into the right shoe.