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  • Writer's pictureEmmelia Potts

The Real Price Of An Iron Man

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

coins and money

So you have decided you want to take on an Iron Man. You have seen the price of the entry fee is £300-450 and you think it is expensive but it is a once-in-a-lifetime situation. Alas is it not just £300 quid and a bike? It amounts to a lot more, and there are a lot of costs people do not think about/are not told about. Here is a list of what was given to me on starting as prices to expect to be paying for gear (note I nearly had heart failure as for the price there is not much there!):

Prices are accurate as of 2017, bear in mind these will increase each year so do your research.

Basic Tri  Equipment

Tri Suit £60-£200

Wet Suit £150-£650

Goggles £15-£40

Sunglasses £20-£200

Helmet £50-£200

Cycling Shoes £80-£350

Bike and components £800-£13,000 (can go up a lot more)

Fuel belt and hydration items £40-£250

Running shoes  £80-£250

Running hat or visor £20-£60

Watch/GPS  £100-£700

Low-end total = £1,415

High-end total = £15,900

So after having a small heart attack I went bargain shopping as the above would not be the only expense. I still had to account for race entries, training, lessons etc so here is what I did with each item:

Race entry £350 (early bird entry tier)

Tri Suit £50 (from my tri club)

Wet Suit £100 (sale from Speedo online, tried it on in a shop first then found a sale online)

Swim cap £4 Decathalon

Goggles £5 Decathalon

Bike and tool kit £550 Ebay (recommendation from a friend)

Helmet £10 Decathalon

Gloves £5 Decathalon

Glasses £0 use running sunglasses

Cycle shoes £40 local cycle shop in sale

Cleats and peddles £60 local cycle shop in sale

Hand bike pump £10 Decathalon

Big bike pump £0 use neighbours

Inner tubes £12 each x 10 £120

Bib number holder £10

Run shoes £0 (pair I already owned from Decathlon)

Run shoe made to measure insoles £40 (not everyone needs these but if you are going to buy cheap trainers I would recommend)

Cycle bib shorts £100 (the best thing to spend money on)

Cycle socks £5

Running hat £0 (use a previous one)

Watch £0 (borrow a friends)

Snack bag for bike £0 (borrow a friends)

Water bottle and hydration £0 free from previous running events

Gels £15 for a box (hunt around for discount codes)

Total costs: £1474 including entry fee to Iron Man Bolton and additional items.

Granted the bib shorts might be unnecessary but I was told to invest in a decent pair to make the 7 hours on a bike bearable. Wet suits are expensive but if you try them on in a shop and then hunt around online you can save a fortune. Using gear from previous years also helps. I might not have all the latest gadgets and a lot of it is very basic, but it does the job. You do not need to spend a fortune to compete and I expect a lot of people just get carried away.


However, where I have blown a small fortune is on training and lessons. I would imagine that this is because I am a beginner in the triathlon world and with swimming and cycling. So if you are familiar with these sports then the below is probably not needed. If you are a beginner and think you can get buy on no lessons or help, you are mistaken. I thought I would be able to get by with minimal help to begin and was quickly proved wrong.

Costs of help/costs no one ever mentions over a year:

Sports massages £350

Annual tri club membership £50

Swim lessons £75

Bike fit £60

Open water swim sessions £50

Swim membership to local pool for 1/2 year £140

Gym membership 1 year £300 (though this is not extra I would have already had this)

Aids for swim lessons (fins, paddles, pull buoy off Amazon) £40

Bike services £120 (for two)

Total costs for training for a year: £1,185 (including a year gym membership)

Also bear in mind that you will want to do a few triathlons, cycle events, swim races, marathons etc and all these events also cost money. Sure it is possible to train for an Iron Man without these but as a beginner, the race situation is invaluable to educating yourself before Iron Man. So I set aside £500 for race entries before Iron Man for practice.


Items such as sports massages are not a must, but they do help after your first half-IM distance or a long cycle ride for recovery days to get you back on the road to training. None of the above is a must but has certainly helped me as a beginner and I would encourage anyone who has not competed in a triathlon before to have swim lessons, massages and practice in open water etc.

Overall an Iron Man can be done for a reasonable price as a beginner with basic gear. However, if you need to put the lessons and training items on top then you are looking at around £2,659 and with other race, entries to practice you are looking more around the £3,000-£3200 price range. This may seem like a lot, and it is. I have had to cut out a lot of other aspects of life to be able to afford this venture. However, that being said when you have bought the gear you are set and when you have learnt how to swim and have done a few triathlons you will no longer need to pay out to learn and gain experience.

Before you sign up do not make the mistake I did. Cost it out and see if you can afford it. I signed up and then panicked about the cost of everything and as a result, hit the charity shops, cut out some of my social life and spent a lot of time begging and borrowing things from people. It works and you can do an Iron Man on a budget, especially if you live local to the race, but even a budgeted version is a lot of money.

Before you sign up think it all through. Not just if you can commit to the training but if you can commit financially it is not just an entry fee and a bike there is a lot more to it all than meets the eye.


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