Multi-sport events and triathlons are a fantastic way to up your fitness levels, vary your training and learn/perfect different skills. But they aren’t always the kindest to your bank balance and when I first started I was shocked costing everything up. However fear not, there certainly are work arounds to help save some pennies, break down barriers into multi-sports and hopefully the tips I’ve shared below are helpful to both beginners or more seasoned triathletes, as after all who doesn’t love a bargain?
Choosing events around the kit you already have: you own a bike but don’t own a wetsuit? Then duathlon (run-bike-run) might be a great start for you. Or you like to swim but don’t own a bike? Aquathlon (swim-run) May be more your thing. Looking for pool based events is also a great way to get into triathlon- buying or hiring a wetsuit can be costly and there’s always the risk you may not enjoy open water swimming. Some multi-sport events including triathlons offer pool based swims. This saves money as you can avoid the expense of a wetsuit and don’t have to pay for open water swimming sessions (which can be anything from £5 to £15!). Events such as London Aquathlon or West Lancashire Tri offer pool based swims, which are great and accessible entry levels into triathlon. I’ve competed in London Aquathlon twice now and both times there have been people without trisuits who have swam in a regular pool costume and put shorts and a T-shirt over the top for the run- meaning there even is the possibility you can save on purchasing a tri suit until you know your level of commitment.
Expos and shows often have bargain Tri Kit: especially marathon or running events. I picked up two of my favourite 2XU Tri-suits at the Liverpool Marathon Expo (RunFit Expo) last May. These were £20 each which in tri suit terms is a bargain. As most people at running expos are beelining for running products, you often find the triathlon areas are very quiet with some great discounts. Look out for brands which offer both running and Tri kit on the stall list. Additionally at London Triathlon and Bike show this year we attended the Sunday afternoon in the final hours of the show and collected some really epic bargains. I got some gorgeous Pearl Izumi cycle capris for just £10 (I used these to cycle 85 miles on day two of London Revolution) and some Jerseys for just a fiver!
My bargain cycle capris surrounded by snacks
Hunt out online sales and discounts: Christmas Sales, Black Friday Bargains and seasonal clearance events are all great ways to pick up some kit and save yourself some money. Make a list of products you want and be prepared to shop around. Last year I picked up my favourite Specialized helmet in the Evans Black Friday sale with 40% off- I’m extra lucky as Black Friday always falls around my birthday! (Which can also be lethal when the ‘treat yourself it’s your birthday’ mentality kicks in). Also check for websites offering cash back via hosting sites such as Topcashback, loyalty schemes or student/civil service/armed forces discount if these apply to you. Register your interest for events and sign up to their newsletters as sometimes they do ad hoc discounts for newsletter subscribers. Many brand ambassadors also have discount codes which can save you some money on kit, nutrition or race entry so check their blogs or Instagram profiles. They often also do giveaways and it’s always worth entering as you never know you may just win!
I’m really lucky to be an ambassador for Science in Sport and my discount code is BECCA15 which saves you 15% if that is helpful at all.
One bike sale I’ve seen some epic bargains in are the Ribble Cycles clearance events which they host online and Instore, so if you’re in the North West I would definitely recommend popping into their showroom in Preston. The offers are on previous models and kit (bagged a gorgeous winter jacket last year for £19!). I purchased by bike from here in January and I’ve been so happy with the spec and value for money and speaking to other Ribble users this is widely echoed.
Decathlon is another great place to pick up bargain kit including bikes, wetsuits, cycling kit etc. My favourite pair of shorts which have done all three century (100 mile) cycles are from the range in duathlon, RRP around £36 (but gifted to me as a previous collaboration). I wholeheartedly recommend these shorts and have purchased additional pairs since.
My favourite cycle shorts being put to the test at Ride London and my specialized helmet which i picked up in the Evans Black Friday Sale
Shop around: don’t always head straight to the brands own website, for example I purchased my zone3 wetsuit from wiggle and paid less than the zone3 website because of a sale wiggle had on at the time. I’m also a huge fan of ActivInstinct and Sigma Sports and a lot of my zoot trisuits come from there (I’ve never paid full price)- both sites have a clearance section which has some real bargains in, and ActivInstinct often have an extra 15% off which is valid on top of clearance items. I also love the millets sale section as I’ve picked up some gorgeous Gore cycling jerseys there at a fraction of the RRP.
One of my favourite tri-suits (and a sale bargain) at London Aquathlon
Outlets and seconds sales: Zone3 offer a great ex demo clearance on their website where you can pick up kit used in their photography campaigns. All will have some evidence of use and you can select the degree of wear. Small nail marks are common in ex demo wetsuits and with the right care and attention are often not problematic. Plus it relieves the stress of marking the wetsuit yourself- mine has now picked some nail marks up from frantically scrabbling to get it on on my own (even though I’m careful and wear cotton gloves).
Buying out of season: you’ll find some great out of season bargains at odd times of the year. I do a lot of reverse shopping where I buy winter kit in early summer and summer kit in the depth of winter where the thought of going out in just a jersey and a pair of shorts makes you cringe. It seems there are some good bargains to be had by doing this.
Free Events and training sessions: Ladies listen up! HSBC Breeze offers free bike rides for women across the UK hosted by wonderful volunteers. They cater for a range of abilities and all you have to do is turn up with your bike and enjoy some friendly miles whilst being safely led by a more experienced cyclist. Other great free events include the Ride London Freecycle in London suitable for families where all the roads are closed to cyclists. I’ve also joined free rideouts and workshops hosted by my local Liv store (events are listed here). I’m not aware of any men’s only events but if you do know of any please pop them in the comments below.
For running, the obvious one is parkrun but it’s also worth checking your place of work or within the local community for any free running groups. A lot of running stores also run their own free social groups or bootcamp classes. I’d really recommend looking through eventbrite, Strava, Facebook or speak to your local bike/running store for free events in your local area.
GoTri sessions and events: These are a great low cost way to get into multi-sports, for example two duathlons I competed in at the start of 2019 cost me £8 for the super sprint and £13 for the sprint distances. Their training sessions are also such an epic way to ease into multi sport and can offer expert level coaching in a safe and supportive environment. You can find out more on the GoTri website.
Choosing smaller or local races over big branded ones: events like Ironmans come with a hefty price tag. However an Ironman 70.3 is simply a 70.3 which is also a middle distance triathlon so if this is the distance you want to do without paying the Ironman pricetag start googling smaller events. Additionally smaller races on open roads (ie you can encounter cars during the bike leg) are often cheaper as the organisers can avoid the costs associated with closing a road.
Join a Tri club: joining a club can help save money on race entries, insurance and some products if your club has affiliate discounts. For your entry fee, clubs tend to run free coached training sessions and free or heavily discounted races. It’s also a chance to meet a wide range of people who can help with any questions you might have eg how to care for your bike or where to get a good value bike fit. Insider knowledge and friendly support are priceless.
eBay: there are some great bargains to be had on eBay especially on unused wetsuits and Tri kit. There’s even the option of picking up a decent second hand bike if you know what you’re looking for and are able to collect. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend buying through eBay is a second hand helmet. You need to know what knocks your helmet has taken and this is something I would always recommend purchasing new as it is an essential piece of safety kit.
Photo credit: AWOL Adventure
Hiring kit: some events offer the option of kit hire. For example London Tri offer the option of wetsuit hire and London Duathlon offer the option of bike hire. It isn’t ideal when it comes to training as it may mean racing in kit you haven’t tested prior to the event but it’s a great option if you want to experience an event and reduce the financial burden, or if you’re not sure what brand/spec you want for your kit. You can compliment this by hiring kit during training. A lot of open water swim locations offer wetsuit hire and some velo parks do bike hire. Alternatively apps like Bibliovelo can help you source a short term bike loan to help with training or sites like My Wetsuit Hire can help you hire a wetsuit for a few days, weeks or a season. Whilst I was trying to figure out what bike I wanted I spent a lot of time training on the spin bike in our local gym- so you can get a head start whilst sourcing kit or saving up.
Taking care of your kit: Tri kit especially wetsuits and bikes are investment pieces and taking good care of these can prolong their life and reduce their use vs cost ratio. Rinse your wetsuit, both the inside and outside after each use and follow any care instructions that come with it. For a bike investing in products like bike wash, some cheap flannels for wiping water off and the correct lube can help keep everything ticking over nicely. Make sure you have a google about winter vs summer care and have your bike serviced regularly. Whilst this obviously costs money it helps save money in the long run and extensive repairs and damage can be costly.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and they help you along where ever you’re at in your multi sport journey. If you have any additional tips please do pop them in the comments below or share with a friend you think may be interested.
Photo credit: Anna Rach Photography