Triathlon may not be the cheapest venture out there, but you don't have to spend a fortune to finish your first race. Here's a quick guide to what to save on—and what to splurge on—as you get started in the sport.
Save On: The Bike
Sure, you need a bike to complete a triathlon. And yes, it may be better if your bike was actually built for racing (though you wouldn't be the first to compete on a hybrid if you went that route). But you don't need to plunk down $5,000 on a carbon-fiber tri bike for your first season out.
"I did my first triathlon with a borrowed bike from my friend's garage," says Cami Stock, a coach for Wild Blue Racing in Colorado Springs. "Some people have done races on mountain bikes and that's OK."
Intent on owning a set of wheels? Find your bike for less by talking to the folks at your local tri or cycling shop about anyone who may be selling a used one. Or check out sites like Craigslist or ebay for a bike that may fit the bill. Another option: Looking into a peer-to-peer program like Spinlister, where you can find and rent race-ready bikes in more than 40 countries from anywhere from $20 to $100 daily.
Splurge on: The Helmet
Not to say you have to pay hundreds for an aero helmet, but make sure you buy a one that's sure to protect your head in case of a fall. Higher-quality helmets (think: brands like Giro, Specialized, and Bell) not only tend to be lighter, but they have features like a dial-fit adjustable system which ensures a snug, safe and comfortable fit.
Save on: The Wetsuit
No doubt, you'll want to have a wetsuit, especially if you're a newbie swimmer who may benefit from the extra buoyancy a wetsuit can provide. But instead of buying a brand-new suit that may run you up to $300, look into renting one first.
Check out sites like triwetsuitrental.com and XTerra Wetsuits, or visit your local tri shop (most companies give you the option to purchase the suit for a prorated fee if you want to hold onto it). If you do go the rental route, just make sure you arrange to have it delivered a week or so before your race to get some practice in it beforehand.