Triathlon Business International 2017

I'm heading to my 7th "Triathlon America", now Triathlon Business International (TBI) conference. It's the only time you'll ever see me on a start list next to Lance Armstrong.

I've written numerous times in the past about TBIs infatuation with Lance, especially here. It seems their forbidden romance is about to be consummated as Lance is on the agenda for a discussion with the aforementioned Dan Empfield, at 8:30am on Monday (full agenda).

I have lots of questions, mostly from a triathlon governance perspective, I want to know who knew what, when, and what were their actions?

It's unlikely I'll ask any of them though, as much as honest answers from Lance would tell us if the people governing our sport are fit to hold office, I neither expect Dan to ask the questions, nor Lance to answer them, especially if I ask. Lance, is as much a sideshow now as the TBI Conference was when it tried to get Lance to respond after Travis Tygart spoke at the 2014 Conference. Triathlon needs to move on.

I'll post some observations from the conference here, I'm sure Dana Willet from 303 Triathlon and Cycling will doing outstanding coverage via twitter and their web site.

My Prior posts on Triathlon America and TBI are tagged #tbi and/or #triathlonamerica and my posts about Lance Armstrong tagged #lancearmstrong. If you want copies of anything that is no longer online, I probaby have it somewhere.
  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: pensive pensive
  • Current Music: Si - Waterfall [enr39] - BØC

Triathlon in America

Triathlon in the USA is sold as a poor man's ironman, and ironman is hard and you should nearly die trying to finish, and it's for the tough people.

Triathlon for the fast and furious pc gaming generation isn't ironman, ironman is a sport for old white people with too much time and money. In recent years, USAT and CEO Urbach are specifically to blame for this. Urbach has spent at least the last 4-years gloating over the membership and participation numbers while showing Ironman videos with people failing, using crappy Eminem tracks as backing. No young mother wants to see her 8-year old doing Ironman, its so unsuitable. Compare that to the fast and furious ITU (Super)Sprint Relays.

USAT has many challenges now the participation and membership numbers are dropping. There a very few professional/elite races at short distance in the USA this year that offer any reasonable amount of prize money. There are no significant short course races series of any consequence. USAT itself managed to isolate itself further from it's desperate and geographically huge regions, making local, nation coordination even harder. There seems to be no effective sports development program for new comers, in fact little to capitalize on Gwen Jorgensen Olympic Gold medal and now Gwen and Patrick have announced they are expecting their first child, Gwen won't be availble to race and showcase her speed.

I wrote parts of this as responses to Dan Empfields' Slowtwitch op-ed about "undisclosed fees". With all due respect, Dan missed a bigger opportunity. Another thing that needs a complete rethink is how the USAT license is collected and distributed, rather than simple hiding a unjustifiable high online platform fee in an already expensive race entry.

The big races have become largely interchangeable, same look and feel, common branding, supporting and promoting any products they can get onboard irrespective of the relevance to the competitors.

Yes, triathlon has a high price of entry, it is too expensive. Yes races are expensive, but that's more a reflection of the business demands from key industry players rather than nickel and diming participants. Almost all the equipment needed to participate in a triathlon goes through the normal marketing, product re-invention cycle, which instead of allowing product costs to be defrayed over many years, keeps costs high but delivering little to most competitors except to dazzle with (uneccesary) technology. The race organization field is slowly consolidating all the big city races, and many of the smaller races into a fewer organizations, which makes it harder to compete for smaller and single race organizers over anything but sprint distance.

Times are changing, and if they don't, they should be.

  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: reflective
  • Current Music: Fool on the Hill - The Beatles

2017 is going to happen...

Well 2016 was another quiet race year, moving 1000+ miles and building a house was distracting enough, so it was never going to be a big race year. Also after 17-years of racing, it's hard to get motivated to do enough training to justify the mostly high race entry fees. Add to that I'm living at 5,430ft, aka mile high country and there you have it.

However, given the old moto "a change is as god as a rest", I've made a start on training for next year in 3-different ways. From my races this year, I can see how much my swimming has dropped right off. We've joined the local Y who have an outdoor pool, but for the winter they've covered it with an impressive cover. Swimming twice a week at least it is.

For biking I've got a trainer set up in the garage, but it is still nice enough to get out on the bike. One of the more amazing sites when we head north on rides through Erie, CO. is the Boulder Valley Veldrome. A neighbor and fellow cyclist extolled the virtues of it, we went one evening earlier in the year to watch the racing, it looked like a lot of fun.

They run taster sessions for new folks to try out the track and I signed up for one. It's actually pretty difficult to ride at speed as there are no real rest areas. I averaged 26-28MPH for a couple of mile rides, but faded badly after that. Also actually getting off the bank section is pretty hard when you start to slow down. It was fun, but my reluctance to do anything that puts me in danger means I probably won't ride there again. It's well worth experiencing though, and the taster sessions include the use of a bike, and shoes, so you just need to bring a helmet.

For running, it couldn't be more different. While running in Austin can't be criticised, it was a bit monotomus. Sure there were numerous routes, but from where I lived it almost always included running on Town Lake Trail. Not a bad thing at all, but included a couple of miles from the house on urban sidewalks, or a "track session" and run down the railroad track.

Here there are endless trails, both concrete and crushed granite. Hills, no hills, lakes, no lakes. The weather is constantly changing. I ran homefrom school drop-off, which is almost exactly 3.5-miles across the Louisville North open space, and it was in the high 30's(f), two days later it was in the 80's.

So much to do for next year, I age up, and after 18-years(?) in triathlon, I'll be in the 60-64 age group. I'm thinking it will be a good year for a bike tour, another Sierra to the Sea, a couple of sprint triathlons, and I think a half ironman distance race. Yep, 2017 is going to be a big year ;-)

  • Current Location: Louisville, CO
  • Current Music:

USAT Votes Yes!

To be more precise, just 1% of USA Triathlon's claimed 500,000 members voted at all in the recent election, and of those 3,592 voted for the board submitted amendment to the bylaws.

That in one vote is everything wrong with USAT. Nobody cares except the board and a small number of others. USAT is little more than a necessary evil in the life of most triathletes. They are forced to hand over money once per year, or once per race do join an organization that seems to spend most of it's time and effort in-fighting, changing it's own byelaws.

While there are many people that volunteer their time, and effort, to make sure races happen, to provide guidance on the sport, the national association has little in the way of structured programs to grow and publicise the sport; it either deliberately or through ineffectiveness fails to engage and capitalize on the huge membership base and allows the scale and geography of the country defeat any practical attempts to localize. At least as I understand the amendment, and thats mostly just through reading it, they are reducing the regional representation on the board, making the centralized structure less visible, and less transparent. That can't be a good thing.

  • Current Location: Louisville, CP
  • Current Music: Stomp and Buck Dance - The Crusaders

USAT - Vote NO!

A few weeks back I got a back door notification that there were some changes afoot at USA Triathlon. I talked with a couple of people who had inside knowledge, and one who had heard change was coming. The discussions didn't lead anywhere and I didn't get specifics.

Then 10-days or so I got an innocuous email from USAT announcing what looked like their annual voting. I either didn't read it, or did and didn't realize the significance. Thanks to Ben Hoffman, and to TRS Radio for the interview, available here and slowtwitch to read, here.

I won't repeat Ben's descriptions, but net net, I can't support these proposed bylaw and process changes. They have a significant impact on both the composition of the USAT Board, and the process for composing the board. It took me only two clicks to vote against the changes after I'd found the email. As discussed, you've not been counted until you've voted.

My link looked like this

Where MMMMMM is my USAT membership number, and PPPPPP is a member unique password.

For research, the changes are all listed in the documents, here.

[Update 9/30/16]
Triathlete has published a useful summary of the issues.
Barry Siff, USA Triathlon President posted this publically on facebook.

Bicyclists, numbers, infractions

I got back from my early morning swim today, settled on the front porch with coffee, granola and the latest edition of the Colorado Home Town Weekly, to enjoy the sun coming up over the houses in front of me. I was astounded by a letter on page-5 that was suggesting that all cyclist should be required to wear bibs with some form of registration number. You can read a copy of the letter on the Boulder DailyCamera, and a report of the incident that prompted the letter here.

I couldn't let this pass without a response, apart from costly to implement, and impractical, it's also unnecessary. I've sent it to both the DailyCamera and the Hometown Weekly, here is my take. Share the road.

With respect to James Thurbers letter, June 8th Edition.

It is unacceptable for this woman to be punched by anyone, let alone a cyclist. Common assault happens all the time, the solution isn’t to pass more laws in the hope that “perhaps” the perpetrator “could” be caught.

It’s not clear from the letter if Mr Thurber is the same James Thurber that is a licensed attorney in Lafayette? If he is, then it’s not surprising he would prefer more legal malaise to make money from.

Mr Thurber seems to have overlooked that in February this year, Gregory Zolnick was hit and critically injured on Highway 36 by a driver who was presumably licensed, in a vehicle that was presumably registered, we don’t know as the assailant was never caught. Let’s not forget that almost exactly a year ago John Jacoby, in Windsor, Colorado was cycling, and was shot and killed, presumably with a licensed weapon, again we don’t know, the assailant was never caught.

On June 8th, 5 cyclists were killed, and four more seriously injured in Michigan. While those who ride bicycles do break the laws from time to time, their crimes are relatively harmless and when they do they put themselves at most risk. When did you last read about a car that crashed, caused by a cyclist? When did the news feature a driver who died as a result of a cyclist not paying attention, or when the cyclist was texting while riding?

Demonizing cyclists isn’t helpful. Increasingly as Boulder becomes more and more populated, and more expensive, many people will resort to cycling, especially those on low income to travel short distances.

It is for us all to be more polite, more civil, more patient, more vigilant and use the laws we have to prosecute any criminal behavior.
  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: Optimistic
  • Current Music: Afterlife Live at Cafe Mambo

Stroke and Stride #1

(if you listen carefully, you can hear Kate sniggering)

Last Thursday was the 1st running of the annual Without limits race series out at the Boulder Reservoir. I'd attempted to race one of the series last year, oly I forgot my run shoes. So rather than race the 750m swim, 5k run, last year I did the 1500m swim and DNF'd.

So, I wasn't hopeful this year, I'd only swum twice since November 11th, and my running had suffered a similar fate. Come race day I was busy running around doing chores. We'd had a late a breakfast, so I skipped lunch and later picked up some dried fruit mix from Sprouts. Thats a mistake I'll never make again. Come race time I felt lethargic, and out of the water after what was choppy swim, I had stomach cramps. I guess it takes much longer for rock hard dried fruit to get digested.

I blew up(and possibly off) a few times on the run, and it was hot. Thankfully after a last walk towards the only part of the course to have any elevation, it was downhill to the finish. I got 2nd in Age Group, and fortunately that wasn't DFL in age group, there were three of us.

I don't plan on running the series, but will do probably one other race towards the end of the series as a comparison. Talking of comparisions, my 16:34 swim, was better than both my laps from last year, where I clocked 16:46 and 17:34.
  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: Circumspect
  • Current Music: SomaFM