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How a pro triathlete managed a five-figure salary in a pandemic

Cody Beals shares his 2020 budget

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Always one of the most open and transparent pros in the sport, Cody Beals has routinely posted a yearly blog outlining his yearly budget. He recently posted the 2020 edition, which highlighted just how much the lack of racing affected those who are trying to make a living from the sport.

“One thing is for sure: no one is drawn to pro triathlon for the dough,” Beals writes. “From my rookie pro season in 2014 to a top-20 PTO ranking and top-5 TriRating last year, my income level progressed from “preteen babysitter” to “moderately successful accountant.” It took several years grinding away at triathlon to match my earnings potential in my previous job as an environmental science consultant.”

Related: I had to lose racing to truly appreciate what I had

“I’ve made decisions throughout my adult life that prioritized autonomy, minimalism and simple living over material wealth,” the two-time Ironman Mont-Tremblant champion continues. “Even so, I was finally on track for a banner year at the bank in 2020. After years nurturing sponsor relationships and a lifetime building fitness, earning $150k to $200k from triathlon was within reach … And then the pandemic blindsided me like a strung-out semi driver.”

The two-time Ironman Mont-Tremblant champion took sixth at the Canadian Pro Triathlon Championship in September, 2020.

Beals’ earnings from prize money, bonuses and appearance fees were decimated last year, but because his success over the last few years has generated some decent sponsors, his income was only down 30 per cent from the previous year. He earned $87,566 last year and had $13,536 worth of expenses. Here’s a detailed look at his 2020 triathlon budget:

From codybeals.com
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All of his sponsors honoured their contracts this year, a huge relief for the Guelph-based pro, but he’s anticipating that 2021 will be more difficult and that he’ll see “more attrition and turnover in sponsorship than every prior year of my career combined.” Where Beals really got hammered in 2020 was with prize money and appearance fees – as a three-time Ironman champion he looked to garner over $20,000 in appearance fees at events he was targeting in 2020.

Related: Cody Beals is our 2019 Men’s Long-Distance Triathlete of the Year

Beals manages to keep his expenses so low because he coaches and represents himself, and is “fortunate to be both injury-resistant and covered by one of the better single-payer healthcare systems in the world.”

Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

“Space for reflection”

Since his first full-distance win at Ironman Mont-Tremblant in 2018, his career had really taken off, which left Beals feeling that “life had reached a frenetic pace.” The pandemic has forced him to slow down.

“The pandemic came with its own set of stresses, but also a surprising plus; it stripped away much of the complexity,” Beals writes. “The pared-down life I was left with was shockingly pleasant at times. In this stillness, I found space for reflection. What was worth adding back into my life? What were my priorities?”

“Making a lot of money still isn’t high on the list,” he continues. “Nor becoming a social media influencer, building a coaching empire or even winning Kona. For now, I just want to live authentically, train purposefully and race fast.”