Triathlon players give inside look on equipment

SEEN ABOVE IS A TRI SUIT, which allows athletes to race faster and feel more confortable. Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics

If you want to do triathlon, it will cost you a pretty penny.

Triathlon is a multi stage competition consisting of swimming, cycling and running. Athletes have to be physically and mentally strong to make it to the finish line before others. Besides these characteristics, they need a long list of essentials – more than just a bike. 

Here is some of the equipment a triathlete needs to perform.

Product: Kit

How much does it cost?: $150-$250

What is it?

Triathletes need a tri suit, which they call “kit.” The suits are made from lightweight, quick-drying and skin-tight, breathable material. It allows athletes to race faster and feel more comfortable. You can wear tri suits through the entire race. These suits have different styles: a one-piece style and a two-piece style. There is no difference between two varieties of suits. It depends on person’s preferences. 

Junior Brandon Steiner uses his kit for more than just wearing. 

“I actually use the kit for an additional and unique purpose. Ever since my first race last year, where I suffered from severe quad cramps, I now carry a water bottle in the kit between it and my upper back,” he said. “This is how I replenish additional water I need for the run to finish the race strong.”

Product: Wetsuit

How much does it cost?: $150-$1,000

What is it?

Some triathletes do not use wetsuits, while others argue that wearing these suits gives benefits to an athlete. It keeps the body warm, especially if the competition is in open water and it is cold to swim. In comparison with tri suits, wetsuits are made of neoprene material and are buoyant. It is beneficial in the water, allowing the athlete to move smoothly. 

Wetsuits come in several varieties: with and without sleeves, just-below-the-knee-length legs and full-length legs, etc. Which one to buy depends on a person’s budget and taste. 

Steiner said wetsuits are most beneficial to weaker swimmers. They help athletes float more easily.

Product: Helmet

How much does it cost?: $200-$600

What is it?

People who are not familiar with triathlon may think triathletes and cyclists use the same helmets. They do not. Helmets for triathlon are different. Cycling helmets are necessary just for protecting someone’s head during a collision, while aerodynamic helmets let the triathletes move faster. Wearing an aerodynamic helmet raises the speed up to 10-15 watts in comparison with traditional helmets. There is a difference in design of these helmets. Aerodynamic helmets having a more unique shape and cost more, but it’s worth it, professional athletes say. 

“I feel when I ride in an aero helmet, I go faster with the wind being guided over me rather than onto me,” Steiner said. “Especially on courses that are not that hilly, it becomes a big factor in overall speeds.”

Product: Bike

How much does it cost?: $1500-$5,000

What is it?

It is impossible to do triathlon without a bike. Since the last century, bikes have changed drastically. They became aerodynamic, faster and lighter. Professional athletes participating in competitions and competing in an Olympic-distance race use expensive bikes. If you are just a beginner who wants to start doing triathlon, you can use you dad’s old 10-speed bike for the first practices. If you really desire to become a professional triathlon athlete, then you can start thinking about purchasing a more appropriate bike. 

In his second year of triathlon competition, Steiner said despite the recommendations about using professional and specialized bikes, he uses an ordinary road bike which allows him to save some money. 

“I’ve been riding my bike casually over 10 years but never professionally or anything like that,” he said. 

This story first appeared in the November 30, 2017 issue of The Vantage.