Rookie Pro Year finances in a Pandemic
Having been a big fan of Cody Beal’s finance reports over the last few years I thought it might be interesting to some people to have a comparative report from a Rookie pro, trying to get their career started in a pandemic year.
Few disclaimers - I have tried to track everything accurately but have probably missed a few bits here and there. I also haven't counted general living costs.
Going into the year I was hoping to be able to race quite a few times, a mix of 70.3s and a couple of Ironman races, and having a stretch goal to qualify for Kona in 2020. I wasn't expecting that I would be able to make any decent money in the first year, particularly as prize money is generally pretty poor at most races (until the PTO came along), and I wouldn't be able to secure many cash sponsors until I had some pro results behind me.
Fortunately I kept my job at Lloyds Banking Group, and just created a new role where I am working 14 hours across the week, which gives me the flexibility to train whilst still giving me a base salary that allows me to live. Without that I probably wouldn’t have survived this year, mentally or financially! It has certainly been a bit of an adjustment though from the salary I was on before working full time and having a reasonable amount of disposable income to actually having to think a lot more about what I am spending on. I had built up a buffer of savings as originally I was planning on taking a proper sabbatical, so that has also been helpful to have as a safety net.
Overall, especially considering the pandemic and therefore relative lack of racing and opportunity to win prize money, it was not a terrible year. In a large part this was due to the PTO supporting local British races (I was able to pick up some prize money at Helvellyn and Outlaw X), and paying everyone who showed up to Daytona. The other big part in this was Zwift putting on a series of virtual races which they also put prize money up for. I haven't counted in here yet the IM Florida prize money as it still isn't in my bank account so not sure what the tax is on it, but should be another c.£2,500 - £3,000 in prize money. I was also lucky that Zwift continued to sponsor me for a year with cash which helped a lot with covering some of the expenses.
Prize Money breakdown:
Helvellyn Triathlon - $500
Outlaw X Triathlon - $1,125
Z Pro Series 1 - $1,000
Z Pro Series 2 - $2,100
Daytona - $2,500
I was a bit unlucky bike wise with a number of expensive parts dying, so it was a larger spend on bike parts than I would usually hope for.
Travel wise I was very lucky that the Challenge North America family helped with accommodation in the period between IM Florida and Daytona, otherwise travel costs would have been an extra £1500ish. I also haven't counted in here estimated cost of being in the US for 6 weeks from a general living perspective - but food is definitely more expensive out there so I would estimate it would have been c.£300 more expensive living and eating out there.
So if counting the IM Florida prize money, I will have just about broken even from my first year, despite the pandemic. Not a bad way to start the triathlon career, and with some of the partnerships I have secured for this year I am hoping that I will have more support on some of the expenses, and hopefully more opportunity to race!