Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do You Have the Money to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

In my last two blogs, I provided guidelines about the base fitness and time commitment athletes should consider before taking on the challenge of the Ironman (2.4-Mile Swim, 112-Mile Bike, 26.2-Mile Run). Next, I want to shed some light on the financial side of preparing for this event.

The current entry fee for the Ford Ironman St. George, scheduled for May 5, 2012, is $600. This is just the beginning of the costs associated with training for an Ironman. Athletes could spend $5,000 from the time they register for the event until the Finisher Merchandise tent closes the day after the race.

  • Race registration – As previously mentioned, the current entry fee is $600 for Ironman sanctioned events, not including the fee associated with Active.com.
  • Gym and/or pool membership – Unless you live in an area with a mild climate year-round, and can do open water swimming, biking and running outside, a gym is almost a necessity. Six-month gym memberships can cost approximately $240.
  • Coaching services – This is not a requirement, but it helps to have someone with experience who can guide you through this journey. Six months of coaching can cost $1,050.
  • Bike equipment – With the added mileage associated with Ironman training, you will find yourself purchasing more tires, tubes, bar tape, chains and cables. You may even be tempted to upgrade your current bike. Athletes should plan to spend at least $150 in bike equipment.
  • Running shoes –Depending on the mileage athletes are running, shoes may be replaced every four months. My favorite Pearl Izumi running shoes are currently $125.
  • Physical Therapy – It is common for athletes to suffer minor injuries during training. A good PT is invaluable! I just finished treatment for a minor injury and all $375 went toward the deductible.
  • Nutrition – Athletes will need to factor in training nutrition, as well as additional groceries for daily nutrition. As training increases, the need to consume more calories increases as well. Plan to spend at least an additional $240 on extra groceries and training nutrition over six months.
  • Gas – Unless you are can step out your front door to swim, bike and run, athletes will probably be traveling by car to different locations for training. Factor in an extra $15 per week in gas while you are training, depending on where you live and how far you are traveling for each workout.
  • Massage Therapy – Monthly massage is recommended for athletes who are performing the rigorous training involved with getting ready for an Ironman. Massages start at $65 per hour.
  • Accommodations at the race venue – Many of the hotels near race venues have minimum stay requirements (ex. 3 nights, 4 nights, 5 nights). A four-night stay in St. George, Utah will be approximately $780.
  • Travel to the race venue – More than likely, athletes will fly or drive to the race destination. If athletes do not have frequent flyer miles, they should plan to spend at least $300 in airfare.
  • Bike transportation to race venue – TriBike Transport charges $325 for round-trip bike and bag transportation to certain race venues. Athletes may choose to pack their bike and take it to the race with the rest of their luggage. There is also the option of shipping your bike to the race venue.
  • Official Finisher Merchandise – After crossing the finish line of an Ironman, most athletes want to get their official finisher gear to let the world know what they just accomplished! Budget accordingly, because the “M dot Finisher” merchandise tends to be slightly overpriced. Sporty jackets cost $150. Bike jerseys run $125. Long sleeve running shirts are $90.

Of course, there are ways to do Ironman on a budget. That may be the subject of a future blog!

Now that you have explored the fitness, time and financial components of preparing for an Ironman, are you ready to start your journey? If you would like to discuss your Ironman race plans, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!


  1. And all this time I've used the excuse that I don't have the time to train for an IM. After reading this I can now add the excuse that I don't have the time OR the money :)

    On a serious note, great blog, Mari!

  2. Excellent post! I don't think people consider this side of the sport as much as they should (or maybe people in the sport don't need to?).

    Also, once people get the "bug", they look to "buy" speed in the form a better bike or lighter equipment for the bike (Zipp wheels) or an aero helmet.

    And, don't forget the possibility of needing a wetsuit if the water temp at the IM is cold enough.

    Once again, great post!

  3. Nice breakdown! The first thing that most people think of is the entry fee. Obviously there are a lot more costs to consider. Would you say there is a particular race course better suited to someone who might just do one for the experience? I hesitate to say "beginner" since it is an ironman after all but one that is less hardcore?

  4. Good question! My belief is that they are all tough courses, the toughness just varies. For example, a lot of athletes think Ironman Florida in Panama City Beach, FL is easy because the bike and run are flat. My opinion is that flat is hard because you don't get a break of the downhill or change things up with an uphill. My advice is to pick a race that is in a location where you would like to visit, put in the training, show up to the start line ready and you will get a big thrill when you cross the finish line!