Time to Tri… And a Lot More

USA Triathlon and Ironman jointly announced a new initiative at the TBI Conference. To date, about 90 percent of all attendees signed onto it.

The first speaker at the TBI Conference in Tempe, AZ, last week was Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman. He spoke for about 10 minutes and then invited the new CEO of USA Triathlon, Rocky Harris, up on the stage. They launched a new initiative called Time to Tri.

The goal of Time to Tri is to bring 100,000 new people into triathlon in the U.S. over the next 3 years. Ironman has pledged to pull all the arrows out of its quiver, including marketing triathlon to contestants in its newly acquired Rock n Roll Marathon events.

This initiative was launched to a room of a couple of hundred race organizers who’ve not often felt well disposed to Ironman. Yet, as of this morning, about 90 percent of everyone who heard the pitch signed the pledge to join in (me included).

Triathlete Magazine’s new owner, Felix Magowan, raised his voice in the session and pledged $100,000 in advertising space in his magazines to support the initiative. We will devote similar space on Slowtwitch, though in talking to the gentlemen behind this drive I recommended two outreaches, one for new entrants (not our reader) and one for lapsed triathletes (our reader!). You’ll be seeing these ads on Slowtwitch, Triathlete Magazine and elsewhere.

Ironman also pledged to move newbies to races not its own. This is new. As of yesterday, Ironman Texas 70.3 is sold out, so, the website recommends 70.3s in Waco or Gulf Coast for you. That’s business. I don’t imagine that will change. But in its outreaches at Rock n Roll Marathons, one assumes that Ironman will be pointing newbies to local clubs and local, shorter, non-Ironman triathlons. Time to Tri embraces pool and indoor triathlons, and Ironman already has a track record of success in advocacy; it’s Women for Tri Facebook group already has 40,000 members and continues to grow like wildfire.

There are real issues that need to be solved. Remember, Life Time Fitness bolted USAT in order to grant its folks the opportunity to race next to their friends in other age groups, and to avoid charging a hefty one-day membership fee for an otherwise inexpensive (such as a pool) triathlon. But that was before our federation’s new executive director took the helm. Does Time to Tri mean these issues that caused Life Time to non-sanction are solved? Not yet. But I sense USAT is eager to face head on issues that used to be undiscussable.

I’m taking the long view. We still do have too many folks in triathlon trying to grab your slice of a pie because theirs has been shrinking for a half-dozen years. It’s not just Time to Tri. It’s time to think big, not small, not petty. It’s time to step out, not to retreat. It’s time to reach grab the hand of friendship, not to refuse it. Most in our industry has come to that conclusion.

(Photos: Ingo Kutsche)