With global domination in mind, the LA Tri club has grown quite nicely over the last few years. We talked to their president Paul Hekimian.
ST: Paul, how old and how large is the LA Tri club?
Paul: The LA Tri Club is going on its 8th year. We have grown to ~1,500 members and continue to grow steadily, and will continue to do so until we reach global domination. ☺
ST: Do you consider the LA Tri club primarily a racing club?
Paul: No, that’s only part of what we are about. Our mantra is "swim. bike. run. play." The play means that we put a strong emphasis on the social side, which also helps create a healthy atmosphere for training and racing. The better members know each other, the more likely they are going to be training with each other. That provides a strong foundation for the racing side of the club. It’s all interrelated.
ST: The greater LA area certainly has its share of triathlon clubs and organizations. Do you more so compete with each other or do you work together?
Paul: The LA Tri Club casts a fairly wide net, and for the most part, is the largest club in the greater LA area. Other triathlon clubs that have sprouted up in the area tend to be focused on niche audiences, like women, or are affiliated with a triathlon-related store or retail outlet. One advantage that we have is our scale. However, that could potentially work against us…there are certainly those who may prefer a club that has a smaller feel – it is our goal to maintain the friendly, communal feel of the LA Tri Club. I think there are different types of clubs serving different types of needs…we don’t consider us competing with the other Clubs. In fact, we routinely invite other clubs to our club meetings and many members of the LA Tri Club are members of multiple local sports clubs.
ST: Which races is the LA Tri club heavily involved with?
Paul: There are certain races that are near and dear to our heart. We are big fans of Michael Epstein Sports Productions (MESP.com) races – the Malibu Triathlon, Hermosa Triathlon, as well as others. They do a great job in putting on a quality race experience. This year we’re campaigning in support of their newest race in Miami, so you might see a decent turnout of LATC red, white in blue on Ocean Boulevard this May! Wildflower is also near and dear to our heart. We have been the host triathlon club for the past few years and have a very solid relationship with Terry Davis’ organization.
A few of our favorite races and race series have spawned from the LA Tri Club. The Playa del Run aquathlon series started as a way for LA Tri Clubbers to enjoy a nice workout and have a few beers after a tough day at the office. That has since evolved into a full-fledged race production company - Generic Events - who have expanded on the aquathlon series and have created a series of races that all share a great, quirky vibe to them.
The Strawberry Fields Triathlon is another race that was created with a lot of support from the LA Tri Club. Race founder Jamie Silber has done a great job in creating a perennial series that serves as the season kick-off for many. Now if we could only do something about the huge waves that are common at that race!
These are just a few of the races that we are close to. We have great relationships with race directors throughout the region and the country, and are happy to support the growth of a healthy race community.
The LA Tri Club’s level of involvement with all of these races ranges from promoter to race management support to volunteer supplier all the way to racer and cheerleader.
ST: What do you do to encourage new members to join?
Paul: I think that members join because of the opportunity to meet like-minded triathletes for training and other activities. We aim to maintain a very active club, which helps to draw new members. We also aim to be welcoming to members of all level from beginner to advanced. We have clinics that appeal to the newbie, and there are also advanced level training activities to take advantage. Our Podium Program and Race Rewards program encourages members to race in our uniform – the Podium Program offers cash to top-placing racers in select races, while the Race Rewards program provides the opportunity for members to win at the year-end by participating in select races in the LATC kit. Additionally, when attending our club meetings, our members get the chance to get up-close to many of their swim, bike & run idols. It’s really special opportunity, to shake the hand of the athletes and personalities who inspire you!
Finally, and let’s be frank, some members join because they want to date a fellow triathlete. Quite a few marriages and children have spawned from the LA Tri Club!
ST: In addition to racing, what are some of the activities offered to club members?
Paul: Lots of stuff. We have an extensive calendar of training events – both member led and coached throughout the greater LA area. We also provide an extensive social calendar with our monthly "First Thursday" happy hours, as well as with our quarterly club meetings where we have leaders in our sport come speak to the Club. Our speakers this year included Kate Major, Chris McCormack and Floyd Landis.
Aside from the activities, we offer numerous benefits to members of the Club, like free triathlon clinics, discounts to a network of retail and other related service providers and other assorted freebies throughout the year. We also provide the infrastructure for members to stay connected through our newly re-launched website www.LATriClub.com.
ST: Who are some of speakers/guests you had at the LA Tri club?
Paul: We’ve had some of the leading figures in triathlon and endurance sport: Floyd Landis, Mark Allan, Dave Scott, Macca, Scott Tinley, Tim and Nicole Deboom, Peter Reid, Paula Newby Frasier, Natasha Badmann, Cam Widoff, Dean Karnazes, Kate Major, Simon Lessing, and Joe Friel, to name a few. Oh, let’s not forget our great friend from just North of the Border – Bob Babbitt!
ST: Anyone specific you would love to have as a speaker but were not yet able to come?
ST: Is there anything that you would say makes the LA Tri club unique?
Paul: There are some great triathlon clubs throughout the country. The ones that are most successful share a committed, highly passionate membership. That is not unique to the LA Tri Club, it’s shared by Clubs to our South, North, and throughout the country. There's also a commitment by the Board of the LA Tri Club – all of who have demanding day jobs – to keep the Club relevant and high quality. We are constantly looking for ways to do things better. Underlying this is an amazing group of sponsors who provide the means for us to make it all happen.
Great weather and terrain for training doesn’t hurt either.
ST: How old is the oldest and how old is the youngest member of the club?
Paul: Well, the youngest would likely be my son, Lucas. Lucas is just over one year old. And, at last check, I believe our oldest member was in his upper 70's.
ST: How far away from Los Angeles do LA Tri club members live?
Paul: If you ever find yourself in Hamburg, be sure to say "GO LA Tri Club!" to our good friend and member Andreas Ebert!
ST: Anything else we should know about the LA Tri Club?
Paul: Lance, if you’re reading this: Paul@LATriClub.com ☺