Other than knowing if I was physically capable of finishing, the main source of uncertainty when I signed up for my first triathlon was how much it would cost. Starting out, I had one pair of running shoes and some goggles from my kids' swimming lessons. So, I knew I’d need to invest in a lot of gear.

Here’s the list of what I ended up buying along with some commentary. Of course it is important to note that these costs can vary widely, based on what you may already have and the budget you’re willing to spend. For several of these items, there’s a very wide range of costs from barely good enough to really fancy. I tended towards the medium-low end of the distribution: enough to get good, reliable equipment, but far away from top end. I figured I should at least finish one triathlon before investing too much money in equipment.

All amounts are in Canadian dollars and rounded to something reasonable.


  • Wetsuit: $400 for the Nineteen Pipeline a decent entry level model
  • Swim equipment: $200 for a bathing suit, flutter board, goggles, swim cap, and other gear
  • Swim buddy: $70 and important if doing any open water swimming. Provides visibility for boaters, something to hold onto if you need a rest, and some storage space
  • Swimming fees: $100 for access to a local municipal pool for a few months. A common alternative is to join a swim club, which would be more expensive, but would also include coaching and community support

Total: $800


  • Before investing in a bike, I invested $200 in a bike sizing session. No point in buying a bike that didn’t fit!
  • Bike: Of all the items in the budget, this is both the most expensive and the most variable. You can spend $15,000 on a fancy bike or get by with a used one in the few hundred dollar range. This Trek for $2,500 both fit my needs and was actually available (COVID-induced shortages wreaked havoc on bike supply chains)
  • Turns out that fancy bikes don’t come with pedals, so another $200 for those and $300 for shoes
  • Also, based on the bike fit, I swapped out the handlebars with another set for $200, plus aero bars for $300
  • Another $500 for clothes, water bottles, bottle cages, and a repair kit
  • Given I started training in the winter, I added an indoor trainer for $1,000
  • Bike computer: $400 for the Garmin Edge 130. Since I was already tracking metrics via my Apple Watch and iPhone, I kept this one simple, mostly just to have easily visible metrics during long rides on the weekend

Total: $5,600 (yikes)


  • This one is pretty easy, two sets of running shoes at about $200 each

Total: $400


Some odds and ends:

  • Trisuit: $200
  • Registration fee for the event: $500
  • Accommodations for three days: $1,000. This one is obviously pretty variable, based on the event location
  • A coach for 6 months at $280/month and worth every penny

Total: $3,400

In the end, about $10,000! Seems like a lot (and it is), though it was spread out over 8 months. Plus, this was essentially my only hobby and leisure activity for that time. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to my family for putting up with this.