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Gearing Up

Tips on reducing cost of triathlon gear

Shutterstock / marekuliasz/marekuliasz

Boston Triathlon’s Michael O’Neil wants you to know anyone can become a triathlete. The owner of Boston’s only triathlon, slated for Aug. 9, says about one-third of participants are first-timers. O’Neil finds many people are discouraged by the cost of gear. Here are some of recommendations for a lower-cost starter kit.

A triathlon bike? Not required.

O’Neil urges novices to take a look at USA Triathlon guidelines to see whether they can just use their own bikes or beach cruisers. He does emphasize that handlebars need to be equipped with plugs at the ends to avoid scratching or cutting other competitors in close quarters. For those who don’t own a bike, the ones from Hubway pass USAT muster. The bike-sharing service has annual ($85) and monthly ($20) memberships, and 72-hour ($12) and 24-hour ($6) passes. Both the memberships and the passes include unlimited 30-minute rides, but longer rides are subject to additional fees. The 9-mile bike ride on the Boston course might cost you an extra $2 for a 31- to 60-minute ride.

Special running and cycling footwear? Not required.

O’Neil suggests using your own broken-in running sneakers but adding rubber or lock laces for a secure fit. GGT Tiger round rubber shoelaces are available on Amazon for $9.99 and the athletic model of Hickies responsive lacing system sells for $14.99 on He also recommends training and running the event without socks — which has the additional benefit of saving time.


A wetsuit? Not required.

Many participants don wetsuits for added buoyancy, warmth, and speed, but you don’t need to buy one. BlueSeventy Fusion 2015 wetsuits are available for a $50 weekend rental (Friday through Monday) at Boston-area Landry’s Bicycles locations through Landry’s Adventures. For comparison, BlueSeventy Axis 2011 is on sale at Landry’s Bicycles site for $395 . If you prefer something simpler, retailers TYR , Pearl Izumi , and Louis Garneau have a diverse offering of triathlon apparel for your big day.


Helmet? Required.

O’Neil recommends Giro or Bell helmets, which come in a range of prices. The women's and men’s Aero/Tri line from Giro offers the Air Attack for $200. Bell’s road helmet Solar sells for $35.

Visor or hat? Required.

Bring an old Red Sox hat in addition to sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. The course takes on average an hour to an hour and half to finish, so lather up with sunscreen beforehand.

Swimming goggles? Required.

TYR and Speedo offer various goggle options for the half-mile swim. Find Speedo’s Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored Goggle for $21.99 on

Alexa McMahon

Alexa McMahon can be reached at