Nationally, more than 1.1 million people competed in a triathlon in 2007, making the combination sport of swimming, biking and running one of the fastest growing fitness activities in the United States. According to USA Triathlon, the governing body of the sport, most triathletes are married and well-educated and have white-collar jobs with average incomes of more than $100,000. These weekend warriors have discretionary income and spend an average of more than $4,000 a year on equipment directly related to their sport. Although a new pair of running shoes won't put just anyone at the front of the pack in Sunday's St. Anthony's Triathlon, many of the 4,000 or so athletes in town this weekend for this Olympic-distance event will be in St. Petersburg's Straub Park today for the Sports and Fitness Expo, where all the latest and greatest triathlon gear will be on display. A look at some of the gadgets:
Timex Ironman Race Trainer
The only way to improve your performance is to track progress. But not everybody can afford a private triathlon coach.
That's where the Timex Ironman Race Trainer — a digital heart rate monitor with a 50-lap memory that will figure out target heart rate zone, calories burned and recovery time — can help put you over the top.
With a price tag of $150, the gadget is affordable. An added plus: You can download a workout history to a Mac or PC. Check it out at the Timex Mobil Truck at the Sports and Fitness Expo or go to timexironman.com.
There is one piece of equipment that will make a difference in a triathlon, and that is the bike. A triathlete can shave minutes off with the right wheels, and the fastest set out there can be found on the Cervelo P4.
"Right now, it is the top time-trial bike," said Val Chevez-Tavenese of Outspokin Bicycles, which opened a shop at the Publix Plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater. "It has been popular with triathletes looking for an edge."
The key to the P4's performance is in the frameset's integrated design that considers the frame, components, wheels, hydration and rider together, which substantially reduces drag. The price ranges from $4,800 for the frameset to $6,800 for the complete bike.
The Cervelo P4 will be on display at the Sports and Fitness Expo, or visit outspokin.net for information.
Zoot Ultra Tri Wear
Lightweight shorts and shirts won't help you keep up with world champion Terenzo Bozzone, but at least you will look like a pro. Zoot, the makers of one of the world's most comfortable swimming wet suits, has a line of sportswear for the well-heeled triathlete.
The Zoot Ultra Tri Short, with its patented Integra Dynamic Pad System, keeps you comfortable on the bike and cool on the run. Price: $100. The Ultra Tri Tank, built from the same high-tech materials, also pulls double duty on the bike and run. Price: $85. Go to zootsports.com or stop by to see them in the Bill Jackson's tent at the expo.