The Frugal Triathlete

author : chrisandniki
comments : 0

Let’s face it: triathlon can be expensive. However, there are many ways for the frugal triathlete to pay for equipment, training, travel, and race entry fees without going broke. Thus, in the tradition of Dave Letterman, here are the top ten ways for triathletes to pay for the 2005 season.

  1. Stick to local races! Let’s face it, travel adds new costs to this sport. There are airfare and hotel costs, the rental car costs, the cost to ship your bike there and back. If trying to race frugally, I’d recommend races near your hometown (or state). However, if you do travel, check out . This site seems to have the best deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals of all the travel web sites out there.
  2. Do races for charity! It’s easier to fundraise and get sponsorship if you’re racing for charity. Once you pick a race for charity, do the following:
    1. Hold a Bake Sale at work. Ask some friends to bake some goodies for you so you don't have to do all the baking yourself.
    2. Ask your church, synagogue, etc if you can make a short presentation at the next service. Be sure to prepare your presentation ahead of time.
    3. See if your apartment complex will donate one month's rent to sponsor you.
    4. Create a return address labels that state: "I'm entering the [enter name of charity race here]. Will you sponsor me?
    5. OK, so you got the Top Ten Hints on paying for Triathlons. But do they really work?

      Here’s a Q&A with Joe, a subscriber who had some success in getting special treatment through sponsors. While he didn’t make millions he did manage to make the triathlon bill a little lighter.

      Q: How much did you spend on triathlons this year - Entry fees, equipment, travel expense etc.
      A: I spent roughly $2500 - gym membership $360, MTB $300, Tri Bike $1200, wetsuit $180, entry fees for two tris $120, 4 5K races $50, training clothes $150, running shoes $200

      Q: Were you surprised you spent that much?
      A. OH YES!

      Q. What gave you the idea of getting sponsors?
      A. Knowing full well what I spent this year, and what I'm going to need to spend next year (remember, I've already got about 10 tris on my radar!), I decided that I needed to help offset either the cost, stress, or both. Getting sponsored will help alleviate some of these concerns.

      Q. What does getting a sponsor mean?
      A. My only sponsor right now is my local recreation center. Having them sponsor me means that I can pretty well do my swim training unencumbered by the normal swim lessons and other potential distractions when I'm in the pool, and I'll get a bit of a break when hiring a personal trainer. I also don't have to get special clearance to wear my wetsuit in the pool, and I can get a priority when waiting on a bike or treadmill.

      Q. What does a sponsor provide?
      A. My sponsor has graciously donated two t-shirts and a hat. The hat will come in handy when running on a cool/cold sunny day. The t-shirts won't be a particular help during a training session, but they'll be great for after on a cool day. Also, I have access to first aid/cpr and lifeguard classes, swim lessons, discounted personal training sessions and some other sundry items.

      Q. What are the benefits to the sponsor of sponsoring you?
      A. Word of mouth advertising, as well as wearing the shirts and hat provided. My rec center has been affected negatively by the current economy, and I'm helping to bring in new customers, which in turn will allow them to keep up with upkeep, new equipment, etc.

      Q. How did you sell them on the idea of sponsorship?
      A. Actually, I asked. Plain and simple. The only other athlete they assist is a powerlifter (who won a contest in Russia this past year). This gives them a little more visibility, as I'll participate in triathlons and running races. Because it's a governmental agency, they really can't advertise like a full blown gym (24-hour Fitness, Bally's).

      Q. Did you guys sign a contract?
      A. No. We did this completely through e-mail, although I did meet the manager after we agreed to this. A gentlemen's agreement, to be sure, but I believe that it will be beneficial to both of us.

      Q. How did your sponsor cement the relationship with you?
      A. I actually initiated the contact, and sent several emails to follow up. We briefly discussed the situations that both the rec center and I are in, and decided that this was a worthy experiment.

      Q. What did you expect from your sponsor?
      A. Actually, just the support from them, especially since the pool gets so crowded about 30 minutes after I start my swim training. Knowing that I can keep a lane, or get a lane if needed, is worth a lot in my book.

      Q. What did you actually get from your sponsor?
      A. Peace of mind: I'm less inclined to bag a workout, knowing that certain people will be watching to see if I come in. The lifeguards are helping to maintain a swim area for me, without having to fight off crowds of people. The discounted strength training will be great this winter! These 'little' things will go a long way to helping me reach my 2005 goals.

      Now, if I can just get New Balance, Felt, Quintana Roo, Nike and Desoto on board

      See your Doctor, Dentist, Chiropractor, Therapist, Insurance Agent, Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Veterinarian, Hair Stylist, etc. will sponsor you. You've given them enough money, now it's their turn! Besides, it’s a tax write-off for them.
    6. Check with your Human Resource Department to see if your company has a corporate matching gift program. If they do, secure and complete a form to turn in with your pledges. This is an easy way to double your totals.
    7. Write letters or emails to your family and friends. People love to know what others are doing and are usually willing to support you in your efforts. Include the date or deadline of the race fees.
  3. Instead of a gift for your birthday or other occasion, ask your family and friends to buy you entrance into a race at the end of the year! Pick a challenging race. You’ll find their purchase an incentive to train and compete more so than if you purchased the entry yourself.
  4. Get rid of your clutter! Hold a garage sale. Ask friends and family to donate items to use as profits towards your races (especially effective if the race is for charity). Take old books, music, movies, magazines, software, and video games to Half Price Books.
  5. Save your spare change! Always use paper currency to pay for your purchases (so you always receive coin change). Save the change in your trusty piggy bank. Have your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or other love-one do the same for you. Don’t forget to check under the seats of your car or in your couch for loose change.
  6. Magazines and books are huge budget busters! Try not to buy magazines regularly at the newsstand. Subscriptions are cheaper. With books, use your local library more instead of bookstores. Start a book exchange at work, where colleagues bring in and trade books. The savings can go toward your races or equipment.
  7. Ride your bike more! Figure out what you spend in gas a week. Then, start riding your bike or jogging to any location that takes you can drive to in 10 minutes or less. At the end of the week, put whatever you’ve saved in gas in your ‘triathlon fund.’
  8. Eat at home more! Figure out your dining out costs for a week. Then, prepare and pack more meals to take with you on-the-go. Not only will they be healthier than what you’d get dining out, but you’ll save money. Figure out what you’ve saved in a week and put it toward your races or equipment.
  9. Evaluate your TV viewing habits! If you don't watch cable TV too much, consider dropping your cable TV subscription. At the least, you might drop one or more premium channels. You’ll find you talk more with your family and have more time to get things done around the house. Use the saved money toward your 2005 race season.
  10. And finally, (drum roll please): The number one way for triathletes to pay for the 2005 season. Keep a piggy bank on your counter. Every time you say something derogatory about yourself, pay it $1.00! Get your spouse and kids to help enforce this rule. You’ll either have some extra cash for your races and equipment, or you’ll break yourself of the habit of putting yourself down.

About the Author: Chris Tull is a writer based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Once upon a time, he was a ‘burgers-and-beer-only’ kind of guy. Chris has since lightened up on the diet and added yoga, weight lifting, and (of course) triathlon training to the mix. You can contact him at or visit his online journal at


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date: November 14, 2004


Chris Tull is a writer based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Once upon a time, he was a ‘burgers-and-beer-only’ kind of guy. Chris has since lightened up on the diet and added yoga, weight lifting, and (of course) triathlon training to the mix.


Chris Tull is a writer based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Once upon a time, he was a ‘burgers-and-beer-only’ kind of guy. Chris has since lightened up on the diet and added yoga, weight lifting, and (of course) triathlon training to the mix.

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