The sport of triathlon in the United States is governed by USA Triathlon, or USAT. This is the organization that governs the Olympic sport of triathlon as well as the sports of duathlon, aquathon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon, and paratriathlon.
USAT not only provides support to elite athletes competing in these sports at international events such as world championships and the Olympics, but according to their mission statement, also works to “grow and inspire the triathlon community,” which includes those trying out triathlon for the first time.
One of the ways USAT provides support to triathletes is by sanctioning over 4,000 races per year. What this means is that USAT gives its seal of approval to these races, and provides insurance for athletes participating in these events. However, this cost is not free to triathletes. In fact, if a triathlete wishes to participate in a USAT-sanctioned race, he or she is required to pay an additional $12 on top of the race fee for a one day USAT license. However, if the triathlete is a USAT member, that fee is waived.
USAT Membership: Is It Worth It?
In order to become a USAT member, a triathlete has to purchase an annual membership, which costs $45 per year.
So the question then becomes whether it is worth it to buy an annual membership. Well,
let’s say that you participated in five races in a single year. Instead of paying $12 per race for a total of $60 a year in insurance payments, you would only pay $45 a year for a USAT membership, saving $15 a year.
Now of course the savings only happens if you race five or more races a year. If you’re only going to be racing one or two races, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to get a USAT membership. The cost would not justify the perceived benefits from membership. But if you raced five or more triathlons, you can see how the savings would add up. Ten races a year? With a membership, that’s an annual savings of $75 on triathlon registration fees alone.
Additional USAT Membership Benefits
Lowering the cost of races is not the only benefit that a USAT membership provides. Here are some added advantages for members, according to the USAT website:
- Subscription to the quarterly USA Triathlon publication, USA Triathlon Magazine
- Inclusion in the USA Triathlon national ranking system after competing in at least three USAT sanctioned triathlons or two other multisport events
- Discounts from USA Triathlon sponsors
So is a USAT membership worth the price? It really depends on how involved you think you might be in the sport of triathlon. If you plan on racing more than four races per year, then it is definitely worth the price. However, if you are only going to race one or two races per year and aren’t interested in the discounts, then it probably makes better financial sense to pay the one-day USAT license and forego the yearly membership.