There's no denying that triathlons are a pricey pastime. Sure, technically, you only need a pair of shorts, a shirt, shoes, and a bike. But there's no question that a sleek, carbon fiber Cervelo with electronic shifting will take minutes off your time (for $8,000), a floating wetsuit will save your strength ($900), and those light-as-air sunglasses, well, those are just mandatory (you can see why gear geeks love the sport).
For your first triathlon, however, you can don't need to go down the rabbit hole with the finest in high tech equipment. "You could probably do a triathlon off everything borrowed but a pair of running shoes," says Nick Stanko, a triathlete and coach at Virginia-based Peaks Coaching Group. There's a middle ground, though, of worthy, budget-friendly equipment that will go a long way toward building confidence and helping pull in a respectable time for your first race. Here are our picks for getting started without breaking the bank.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara
Peaks Coaching Group's Nick Stanko might say that shoes are the only thing you can't borrow for a triathlon, but that doesn't mean you have to get tri-specific kicks complete with drainage holes, tongue grips, and elastic laces. A light pair of running shoes that are comfortable with and without socks will function just fine.
We found that Mizuno's new Wave Sayonara, a lightweight everyday runner with an especially soft liner, was just the right fit for training and race day. But everyone's foot and stride is different. When shopping for a running shoe that you can also use in a tri, get at least a few dozen miles in them before race day. And be sure to look for a fairly light, breathable shoe (remember, your bare feet may still be damp) that gives you no hot spots with or without socks. [$120; mizunorunning.com]