The world of Ironman is a full of a myriad of products. All types of different shiny thing you can buy to make you go faster. All types of potions and supplements to aid training and recovery. The truth is very few of these are essentials. A lot may help make your journey easier or make your time faster. But not having them will not stop you getting round. This page is JUST the kit I feel you NEED. the stuff you MUST own or at least have access to in order to complete your first ironman
Not having these will in most cases mean you won’t even be allowed to start others mean getting to the end will be nearly impossible. Check my Ironman Gear – Very Useful page for the Items you should really think about getting to make the day better or the training easier. You still will finish without but its going to be harder.
Trunks or Costume: You may not need these for the actual race but you are going to need some for training in. Cost £2.50 Upwards
Swim Cap: This essential piece of kit will be given you. Its a safety device and you should always wear one when swimming out side as human heads are very hard to spot in the water without and that’s all of you that will be visible. You may chose to wear one in the pool to protect your hair. Free (can be found for as little a £0.69p)
Goggles: I think Goggles are essential. Some MAY argue they are not and strictly they are right, especially if you plan on breast stroke (not recommended). But really you need goggles whenever swimming in open water. £5
Wetsuit: Depending on the Race this is either essential or banned. Its all to do with water temp. in colder water it will be mandatory. In Warmer they will be banned. You can pick up “surfing” wetsuits very cheaply but I would not consider this suitable for Iron distance Triathlon. Swimming/Triathlon wetsuit Prices start at around £65 brand new with £100-£200 the normal range
Pool: No you don’t need to own a pool. But you do need access to one, or at least a body of water you can train in. It is highly unlikely you will be able to jump in on race day and get around before cut off. So you are going to need somewhere to train. £4 a week – Free
Bike: It Sounds obvious I know but you are not going to get far on the bike leg without a bike. in-fact you would be disqualified if you tried. As for what Bike you need. Well I would be saying a road bike as a minimum. Ironman Triathlons REQUIRE you have a Road or Time Trial Bike. Some Non Branded Races may allow other bike (I have raced against a guy on a BMX”) but its really not a good idea. The distances involved are just better covered on a road bike. You would struggle to cover the ground fast enough on anything else. But now we have narrowed it down, its still a very large selection process. you do not need however a very expensive top of the range all carbon TT bike. Any GOOD condition road bike in FULL working order will get you round. Its far more important your bike is in 100% working order than any other consideration. £400 +++ Less if you look second hand.
Spares: A basic bike tool and some spare inner tubes are absolutely essential to maximise your chances of getting round as is a method of carrying and a pump. Sure they may sit unused in the saddle bag. But Punctures happen. and with no spares its game over. All the time and effort training and your race fee. wasted. because you wouldn’t spend £20 on a spares kit!
Helmet: Your head is important and thankfully Ironman appreciate that. So whatever your views on wearing a helmet you won’t be racing ironman without one. They are checked at “check-in” and if you are spotted anywhere on the bike course (or even transition with a bike in hand) without your helmet its a instant DQ. I would never ride without one anyway. £30
Glasses: This is tentative essential. Most cyclists wear expensive Big brand sun glass’s because they look cool or they “think” they do? But they do serve a very good purpose and as that purpose is safety and the protection of your valuable eyesight, I’m going with essential. Small stones from other bike plus insects especially wasps are not good things to get in your eye. Sunglasses or clear safety glasses remove this danger for relatively little money. £4
Trainers: Running Shoes can be had very cheaply, but often it is not a great idea. You will require a running specific shoe and TBH this area is a complete mine field. Opinion as to what is a good running shoe is not mixed but outright at war with itself. Welcome to the world of support vs minimalist. But this article is not the place for this discussion. Just be aware you will need a good pair of running shoes and these are likely to start around £60
Clothing: You will be pleased to know Nudity is banned at Ironman races, as it is in most public places. So you will require some clothing. Both to race and Train in. The reason this is in the combined section is some or all your clothing can be used in both swim bike and run sections. For training I use a cheap cycling top and cycling shorts along with Cleated Bike shoes (but you could use regular pedals and your running shoes). Running is just running shorts and a tech tee-shirt. Plus a wind breaker in chillier weather and maybe a base layer in very cold weather. But during a Race its very different. I wear a TRISUIT.
A tri-suit is triathlon specific item(s) of clothing. its can be one or two piece. I strongly recommend 2 piece for Ironman for times when Nature calls. You put it on in the morning under your wet suit. It is quick drying so you dry quickly when cycling. It has a padded “chamois” to relive pressure and pain caused by the saddle, however the pad is small enough to not cause chaffing or hindrance to your running. You will see most people wearing them but you don’t have to. Some people are just more comfortable wearing separate swim, bike and run attire. If that’s you, no problem. Race’s offer Change tents where a full change of clothes can take place out of the view of the spectators and public, negating the “no Nudity” rule. This will take a little longer but, if every second is not important to you, it can be preferable to be more comfortable and in the long run faster.
The important thing is to try it all out before hand. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY
On the race day all your nutrition needs will be handled. except breakfast. But when doing longer training runs or ride you may need fuel or food. You will also find your self needing to eat before and after training. Also you may not like or be able to stomach the nutrition on offer by the race organiser. So will need an alternative plan (they will always supply fresh clean water alongside anything else). This one is going to be impossible to price up so many variations but as race nutrition is included as part of your race fee I’m going with FREE
Entry: Not strictly equipment but as I’m talking essential costs as well Its important to understand the race fees for these events are costly. They are HUGE logistical undertakings with lots of unseen costs and as such the costs of these are passed to the competitors. Apart from the bike its probably the biggest single cost. UK Ironman entry fees are £400 -£445 + admin fee for 2017. Outlaw 2017 as an unbranded example is £292+admin fee smaller events may be cheaper.
Accommodation: Its worth pointing out you will probably need somewhere to stay as most Events at Long Distance require registration and racking the day before at least. So unless you happen to be Local its probably unpractical to drive there twice. Not to mention the Very early starts these events have. Normally a night staying locally is required. Camping could always be a possibility of the particularly cost savvy people if available. £39 cheap hotel £15 camping
GRAND TOTAL : £1000 – £1200
No one ever said Ironman was a cheap sport and these are just the basic bare essentials. On my next page I list the more desirable, helpful items. that most people choose to use but which are not completely essential. But its important to understand these costs will be incurred gradually rather than all at once. And most of them are the swallowed up by the bike and the race fee. Remember this process will take almost of a year of your life probably 2 or more so in that context its only £10-£20 a week!
Think about how much people spend on Weddings? or on once a year Holidays?