If you want to know what cautious optimism looks like, it was in the faces of the attendees of the Triathlon Business Intl Conference in Tempe, AZ, held over the weekend.
It was cautious optimism with the emphasis on... both.
This year, those who typed in their credit card numbers to buy a Conference registration from ACTIVE Network numbered 60 percent more than those who did so last year. This was after attendance was down in this conference for the past 4 years, about 13 percent each year. Why the big upsurge for the 2018 Conference?
Partly, it was a feeling of confidence, in USA Triathlon's new executive director (more on him), and in year-over-year registration numbers that had the owners of those races hitting the sides of their computers, to clear the cache of numbers they haven't seen for 3 or 4 years.
The Conference opened with Kyrsten Sinema (above), Congresswoman from Arizona through whose district runs Ironman Arizona, the 70.3 and Rock n Roll Marathon. A story ran in today's L.A. Times about the Republican primary for Jeff Flake's U.S. Senate seat, and how the strongest contender is a Martha McSully, "a fast-talking, 51-year-old former Ironman triathlete...” I wrote the reporter to apprise him that the other side has an Ironman triathlete running as well! How cool would it be for the U.S. Senate seat to be contested by two Ironman triathletes... both women!
Here are Bob Babbitt and (Slowtwitch's Top Gun) Lars Finanger. Nobody's looked this good in aviators since Tom Cruise.
This is how we started, with Ironman's CEO, Andrew Messick, unveiling along with USAT's Rocky Harris a new initiative: Time to Tri. More on this later.
Time to Tri got people talking. Pledging. Over 100 companies signed the Time to Tri pledge at this conference. Here's Matt Miller from BASE Nutrition. Ideas were shared. Headway was made. A course for the future was charted.
There were several events off-site, two of which took place at The Cabin in Tempe, across the street from the host hotel. Included were a launch brunch hosted by Slowtwitch, and a reception for TBI Conference attendees
Here's a graphic recorder memorializing the fruit of the time spent coming up with impediments to the growth in triathlon, and the things we need to do to overcome them.
Here's the finished product.
Every morning we began with a ride or a run, and Felt Bicycles provided the bikes for those who flew in and didn't want to bring their own bikes. Thanks Felt!! We had 15 or 20 on every morning bike ride.
We bring in Kelly Burns Gallagher every year to scare the bejeebus out of us. She tells us how not to get sued and, as a bonus, gives us tips on how to stay out of jail.
But we got our revenge. We honored her as this year's recipient of the Ron Smith award, and she didn't know it until her name was announced by Mike Reilly.
Being in a mischievous mood, we did the same to Dan Kennison, of PremierBike, naming him this year's winner of the Steve Hed award. Steve's family Annie, and the kids Andrew and Rebecca, were there to give it to him. Not many dry eyes. Mine included.
Here's Dan with Mike Reilly. Mike is our Conference emcee every year, and he helps put the Conference on.
Paul Phillips won for best photo of the year, and this looks like Ali Brownlee at St. George. Paul! Brother! Is this fair use? If not, send me the bill!
Here are Mike Plant of MPA Graphics and USA Triathlon's CEO Rocky Harris. These are two dangerously creative guys to have in the same spot at the same time. I guarantee they won't go 10 minutes before they hit on, "No! Feed mayonnaise to the tuna!"
All photos courtesy of Finisherpix.