Following in the footsteps of runners' stocking stuffers, we ran through our picks for filling a triathlete's Christmas stocking. For a sport that's often labeled as expensive, you might be surprised to find several stocking worthy items that won't break the bank.
- Sport stickers. M dots, 140.6, 70.3, 26.2. You name the number or symbol and chances are you've seen at least as many of these car stickers tacked on the rear as you've read "My child is an honors student at...." You can't wrap a sticker in gift wrap unless you place it in a box, but you can slip it into a stocking.
- Tire tubes. It's not personal by any means, but if you know the wheel size of your triathlete's bike, he or she will eat these up Christmas morning. At least I would. I'm always tracking down tubes come race season, either because I can't find whatever stash I bought the season before or because I know I used said stash and never bothered to replace it. And I hate doing the restocking so if someone else did it for me, say in my stocking, I'd be eternally grateful.
- CO2 cartridges. See No. 2. I always think I have an extra one of these on hand, but they are so small that they're easy to lose track of, especially when you're racing one weekend after another and traveling in between.
- Swim cap. I'm probably the last person who needs an extra swim cap--I still have some dating back to high school swimming because I use my odd-colored race day caps until they break and always have another color waiting in the wings. But Swim Outlet and Kiefer offer some designs that make those race caps look boring, even when they're emblazoned with a race logo: Olympics rings, patterns, animal inspired.
- Anti Monkey Butt Powder. Saddle sores, chafing, itching on your rear? You can minimize those pains with this calamine powder that's not going to burn upon application. And it has some pretty darn cute monkey mascots.
- Sock Guy socks. When it comes to road riding, especially long distances of say the 112 miles of an Ironman, these socks are a must--for me. Simply put, they just fit right in my cycling shoes, they're low enough to make my sock tan less severe, and they come in a variety of fun designs.
- Yankz. Shoelaces always untying? Make your running shoes easy-on easy-off with these elasticized cords that make double knots and frayed laces things of the past.
- Suit Juice. Skip the struggling to put on and pull off a wetsuit with a few sprays of this stuff on your body before donning your wetsuit. When you don't have wetsuit strippers at a race, it makes the wetsuit removal so much easier, faster, too.
- Race belt. Whether you know a racer who's always pinning bib number to race singlet, or one who's always borrowing or replacing a race belt, you can't go wrong with stuffing a race belt into his or her stocking. They're relatively inexpensive, they're small, they can be used for more than triathlon (I don't run a race, even a 5K, without one), and they can hold fuel depending on the type of multitasking model you choose.
- Nathan Thermal Quickdraw. Sometimes the hydration on the course won't cut it. The aid stations can't come fast enough, you can't grab enough cups of water or sports drink to satisfy your thirst, or you need your own formula and not whatever's served at the race. Here's an easy-to-carry water bottle that slides into your palm, keeps your drink warm or cool depending on the temperature, and has a pocket to hold extra fuel (or keys if you're out training). Forget putting this in a stocking, you might want it for yourself. If that's the case, toss in a pair of arm warmers, which come in handy for the bike and the run.
- Triathlete magazine subscription. This is a no-brainer--either renew an existing subscription or start your triathlete with some reading material all about the sport. It makes a great gift for someone like me who's too cheap to pay for the subscription that's at least double (and sometimes triple) the cost of my Runner's World, SELF or Shape.
Photo grabbed from altopower at flickr.