How to Find a Sponsor as a Beginner Triathlete

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Signing up for your first triathlon can be exhilarating, but adding up the expenses can be nauseating. Aside from the entrance fee -- which can cost several hundred dollars alone -- you’ll need a wetsuit for the swimming portion of the race, a bike and helmet for cycling, and running shoes for the final running portion of the race. A sponsor can cover or offset these costs, taking pressure off of you, while reaping valuable exposure in return.

Market Yourself

Most sponsors want to be associated with high-performing athletes. If don’t have any previous triathlon experience to fall back on, you’ll need to find creative ways to convince sponsors that you’ll do well in the event and therefore reflect well on them. Have a friend record you training for the triathlon and edit the footage into a highlights reel showing off your excellent form and quick pace. Be sure to include information about your average times in training events. Consider making a website about yourself and your triathlon training. If you can build a following, eventually you can put your sponsor’s information on the site to give the sponsor even more exposure.

Know What to Ask For

Many sponsors won’t know anything about triathlons, so you must be prepared to educate them and ask for exactly what you need. Rather than saying, “I need money for an entrance fee and some new equipment,” prepare a spreadsheet listing the estimated expense for everything you need. Sponsors can then choose what they’d like to cover. For instance, a sponsor may not be able to afford everything but may opt to pay for your wetsuit and bike helmet, provided you attach advertising to these items.

Find Sponsors

Large sports equipment companies are unlikely to take a chance on an unknown competitor, so turn your attention to smaller, local companies. Start with places that focus on athletics, such as sporting goods stores, fitness centers and health food stores. These stores may provide you with merchandise or free training time. If you don’t get any takers, move on to places where you have connections such as your favorite restaurant or a store where you once worked. Visit each potential sponsor in person. Even if the person you speak with declines to help, leave behind some information such as a card with your website address so she can reach you if she has a change of heart.

Make an Agreement

Once you’ve gotten a verbal agreement from a sponsor, type up a simple agreement that explains everything you and the sponsor have agreed to do. For instance, list each item the sponsor will pay for and its cost. Write out the payment agreement you’ve reached, such as: “(Athlete) will buy equipment and provide receipts by Dec. 1, and (sponsor) will reimburse her with a check by Dec. 8.” Include all your promises, such as: “(Athlete) will affix (sponsor)’s logo to her wetsuit and helmet during the race and display it on her personal website.” Ask your sponsor to sign a copy so you don’t have any confusion down the line.