Winners and Losers From the 2018 TBI Conference

The 2018 Triathlon Business International conference concluded on Sunday, but the work coming out of the conference is just beginning. Industry stakeholders from across all lines of triathlon work-life are focused on growing the sport throughout 2018 and beyond. As we concluded the conference, it was clear to this attendee that there were some definite winners and losers coming out of the event.

Winners: All Attendees

I have attended TBI once before; my wife has presented on three occasions. Both of us early on Friday noted a different atmosphere at this conference versus prior iterations: there was a clear feeling of collaboration from all in the room. There was little of the continual side discussions while a presenter was speaking; instead, it was frequently the case that presentations went over their allotted time in order to continue question-and-answer sessions. It was clear that everyone in the room was invested in learning and improving.

Losers: People Who Weren’t There

If you're a stakeholder in this industry, it is my duty to inform you that henceforth you must come to this conference. It had representation across all facets of the industry. This conference offered numerous solutions to problems we’re all facing: declining registration, channel conflict at retail, client retention for coaching. If you want to be able to ride the next growth wave, you needed to start paddling to catch it.

Winner: USA Triathlon

USAT hit a triple over the weekend. Between the announcement of the Time to Tri initiative (which you’ll be seeing plenty more about over the next few weeks), and CEO Rocky Harris’ involvement throughout the weekend, it felt like the governing body pivoted away from being only interested in protecting its interests and instead focused on growing the overall participant pool going forward. The only thing preventing it from being a home run? The initial guides for all industry stakeholders on how to support the initiative, save the title on them, were the same.

Losers: The Barriers To Participation in the Sport

The longest session of the conference started Saturday afternoon: a full attendee roundtable to identify barriers in the sport and work on both general and specific initiatives to break them down. Commitments came in both small and large denominations, but by the end of the session more than 50 percent of the room had pledged either financial resources or their time and effort to specifically tackle limiters that have held the sport back from growth over the last decade.

Winners: Dan Kennison, Kelly Burns Gallagher, the late Jason Kilderry, Paul Phillips, Jay Prasuhn, Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club, and the Triathletes’ Choice Best-of Award winners

We would be remiss to not mention the actual award winners of the 2018 Conference (in the interest of full disclosure, I’m married to one of them). However, the quality of work from all the award winners was universally praised as outstanding and deserving. Their tireless enthusiasm for the sport bleeds into the work that they perform.

Losers: Anybody Who Likes a Schedule

The conference officially ended at 12:30 on Sunday. At 4:00 PM, there were still working sessions ongoing: planning new events, new initiatives, and methods to help those with their new commitments. The day only ended when the truck was packed up and hit the road out, 5 hours after the day was supposed to end.

Winners: Anybody Who Wants to Roll Up His or Her Sleeves

There is a lot of work to be done. If you’re ready, willing, and able to help build our community, the call to action is coming. Be ready.

[All images Finisherpix.]