For any race that you do, you have to sign a waiver.  For a triathlon, you have to purchase a membership to the USA Triathlon association in addition to signing a waiver.  You have the option to either purchase an annual membership or buy a one-day pass.


Side note: my favorite part of the triathlon waiver is that you acknowledge you may encounter “participants of varying skill levels,” which to me translates into “watch out for people panicking in the lake, crashing their bikes, and suddenly coming to a walk or standstill in the middle of the trail” (I am guilty of the first two but never the third – my race pet peeve!).

USAT membership basically acts as medical insurance in case you are injured during the race.  Coverage only applies to your participation in the actual event (so if you get into a car accident on the drive home – tough cookies!).  If you are injured during the race, you will have to pay a deductible, which can range anywhere from $250 – $1,000 out of pocket. You must file with your primary healthcare provider, but the USAT insurance will “cover the cost to provide [the athlete] with excess medical insurance.” 


As I mentioned, when you sign up for a triathlon, you have a choice to buy a one-day permit or an annual membership.  The one-day permit costs $12.00, and the annual pass is $45.  In the handful of years that I’ve done triathlons, I have never bought the annual pass, opting to do the one-day permit.  I always planned to do less than three events a season, so I hoped to save a few bucks by purchasing one-day passes (but then I ended up doing more events, essentially screwing myself out of a few bucks – whoops).


Recently, I got an email notifying me that the first 2,000 people to sign up or renew their USAT membership in March 2013 would get a free race belt.  I don’t own a race belt (you pin your numbers to the belt), and I *know* I will do four events this year, so I decided to bite the bullet and join USAT.


Upon joining, I discovered that USAT membership has tons of additional benefits, such as:


  • Subscription to the USAT magazine.
  • Inclusion in the USAT national rankings system (watch out, I’m gunning for you…)
  • Discounts to USAT partners.


I was most excited about the USAT partner discounts because there are some AMAZING discounts.  You get up to 25% off car rental companies Budget and Avis, 15% off at Choice Hotels (like Comfort Inn and Quality Inn), 15% of Hilton hotels, and 5% off United flights.  I travel a lot for work, so these discounts are pretty awesome!  Need a new swimsuit?  You can get 20% off the TYR brand!  And, of course, there are tons of other discount for triathlete-specific items from Rola (which makes bike carriers for you rcar), Rudy Project (makes goggles, sunglasses, and helmets), and Gu (makes race-day fuel).


So – I’m pretty pumped that I finally bought a membership.  I can’t wait to use my discounts and check out the online forums. 

This post wasn’t sponsored in any way – I’m just super pumped about the USAT benefits!


Are you a USAT member?  Or do you always buy the one-day pass?  For more triathlon posts, check out my Triathlon category, my So You Wanna Do a Triathlon series, and my challenge for this month – Ironman March <— a great way to kick off tri season!



  • luv what you do March 3, 2013, 11:45 am

    I got the same email and was debating if I should get a membership this year. Like you, usually do 1-2 tri’s and so financially it doesn’t work out. But the free race belt and magazine subscription definitely caught my eye. I can’t wait to start tri training!

  • Alett March 3, 2013, 11:50 am

    Yay for you!

    I do have a USAT membership – admittedly, didn’t realize ALL of the wonderful benefits until I read this post 🙂

    Incidentally, I signed up for my first half ironman (Timberman in August), gulp! The cycling is my weakest point – until we invested in a CompuTrainer system I wanted to gouge my eyes out after 15 mins on the indoor bike trainer. Apparently watching scenery going by on a bike course is more entertainment than a TV show or movie. 🙂

  • Mai March 3, 2013, 12:29 pm

    i just buy the pass because i don’t do enough races for it to be worth it. if i ever do more than 3 in a year, i’ll definitely get a membership though! the perks sound pretty awesome.

  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes March 3, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Welcome to the club! Last season, I went the one-day pass route, but since I’m doing at least five tris this year, I knew getting the USAT membership would be worth it. 🙂

  • Jennifer Cook March 3, 2013, 1:01 pm

    I bought a annual membership last year as I planned on doing 5 or more races. (Ended up doing 5, got pregnant so I couldn’t do more!) I actually qualified for the USAT Age Group Championship as I came in the top 10% of my age group in a couple of races, which was hilarious because there just happen to be only 1 or 2 other people in my age group at those races! Total fluke. At the bigger races, I don’t even come close to that. But it still kinda cool to get the email saying I qualified!

    • Mary March 3, 2013, 2:34 pm

      I qualified the same way…I am going as it will probably be my only chance to race at that level of competition!

  • Kelly March 3, 2013, 1:22 pm

    So funny, I got the same e-mail and bought a membership on Friday! This is my first time getting one, but I’m expecting to do probably about 4 triathlons this year so I figured it would be worth it!

  • Bron March 3, 2013, 1:37 pm

    I had never thought about this type of insurance before! We are lucky that in New Zealand we have ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) which is run by the Government – if you get injured doing any kind of sport (or in a car crash on the way there! or at work – any kind of accident possible!) ACC will cover or subsidise your treatment (such as physio or surgery), and even pay you a weekly wage if you need to be off work for a period of time. Its funded through levies that we pay on petrol/car registrations/employer levies etc. So luckily I don’t think we need to worry about getting insurance for races…..the discounts sound good though!!

  • Rebecca March 3, 2013, 2:28 pm

    I have never heard my dad mention waivers or USAT. I mean, waivers make sense, but he’s never mentioned having to sign up for either a membership or a one-day pass any time he’s talked about the Tris he does. Maybe he just doesn’t think I’d care about that little nugget of info. Heh.

  • Steph March 3, 2013, 5:01 pm

    I’ve always gotten a day pass, but I may look into it if I decide to do more than just 2 a year. Great information, Thanks! 😀

  • Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} March 3, 2013, 8:29 pm

    I’ve considered buying a pass in the past, but like you just bought day passes since I only did a couple tris per year. After seeing the list of added membership benefits, the $45 seems worth it!

    I am pumped for tri season this year!!

  • Serena March 4, 2013, 1:48 am

    I haven’t done a tri yet. This may be the year. I’ve never heard this information before so I appreciate it. It’s always better to go into something with as much info as possible so you don’t feel like the biggest newb of all time.

  • Angie March 4, 2013, 9:22 am

    I have always bought a membership because I plan to do 3-4 tris a year and figure I’ll be close to meeting the membership fee. Plus, I like supporting the governing body and getting the magazine. I hadn’t really paid attention to the discounts, but I will now! Only problem I have is that my husband and I are both members, and they have not figured out yet how to “household” their mail and we get 2 print copies of the magazine, which is unnecessary and wasteful.

    • Lindsay @ USA Triathlon March 4, 2013, 6:14 pm

      Angie, we do have the option in your membership account to opt out of the print version of the magazine. If you send me an email at I can update your or your husband’s account so that only one of you will receive the print copy.

  • Ashley March 4, 2013, 3:00 pm

    I just had to pay the $12 for my duathlon and almost just signed up for the annual pass but decided to wait for next year (as running is still my main focus for 2013). I love to see all those additional benefits though, makes it feel even more worth it!

    • Lindsay @ USA Triathlon March 4, 2013, 6:13 pm

      Ashley, you could apply your one day membership fee toward the cost of an annual membership if you do it within a year of purchase. So, if you just bought your one day membership on March 1, you’d have til March 1, 2014 to apply it to an annual membership with USA Triathlon.

  • Courtney Leigh March 4, 2013, 3:44 pm

    I like having a membership just because I like feeling like a badass when I whip my card out at packet pick-up. Only hardcore triathletes are members, right? 😉

    I actually ask for the membership for Christmas now and pretty much plan on doing so for as long as I’m racing. It makes a really great gift, not too expensive and the timing for a new year’s membership is perfect.

  • Alex Cross March 4, 2013, 7:55 pm

    Believe it or not, any triathlon can go unsanctioned and purchase a good private insurance policy that includes excess medical for the participants, and no one has to buy a membership or pay a $12 fee. The USAT magazine is a joke, the rankings program is seriously flawed, and the discounts you mentioned are available all over the web. Save yourself the money, I say.

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