A Sincere Letter To the Women For Tri Board

Dear Women For Tri Board,

I’ve been encouraged by people on Twitter to write you this letter, but I have to make it quick since you are meeting as I type.

First, to be clear, I am not bitter I wasn’t selected. I must admit I am disappointed to the extent that I am human and I care. I did question if this was a way to get us to work for free to bring in more business to your races … but I let that go. I have hope for the Board, your initiative, and our sport in general. I have long been a fan of Meredith and Swim, Bike, Mom.

However, in my honest opinion, the Board seems to look the same. Sure, we all come with our unique histories but no one looks different in color or physical ability. Where is the diversity of opinions if everyone seems to come from the same place?

So, here are my points as a Latina, minority, mom who works with adaptive athletes. I just say these in the hope you will read this letter and have these issues in mind as you talk about bringing more women into triathlon. I mentioned some of these in my application.

  • Think of the women who cannot afford equipment. Do we want triathlon to be an elitist sport or do we want to reach ALL women regardless of their financial situation? Think of scholarships, bike shares, inner city youth programs, outreach, etc. On the outskirts of triathlon is a huge group of women who don’t even consider our sport. Maybe one of them is your next world champion, but we will never know if we don’t help her have financial access to the start line. Make sure you think about those women who might dream of competing but become discouraged by the simple cost of a bicycle.
  • Think of women whose cultural surroundings prevent her from signing up. I had the hardest time convincing my family (not my husband and kids, but my very vocal extended family) that doing a triathlon was safe and a good idea. Think of a woman competing as part of a greater system that can either support or break her. Educate everyone. It’s not just juggling work, family and training.  To some of us it includes the entire neighborhood.
  • We aren’t all equally abled. Some are faster than others, and some just can’t compete independently as the incredible women I have worked with as part of ThumbsUp International. Instead of having them be a minority or an afterthought, be proactive and bring them into racing as you would any other group of women. I can’t begin to tell you how empowering racing side by side to a woman who the world sees as severely disabled has been.

And that’s all. You have a lot to discuss, so just please include attracting ALL types of women. Many will quickly come to you with an army of street ambassadors holding their hands.  But not everyone that matters lies in the mainstream.

dr seuss careMuch luck and have fun!

8 thoughts on “A Sincere Letter To the Women For Tri Board

  1. To your first point, I don’t think that’s exclusive to women – people of all genders cannot afford this sport, and could benefit from scholarships or other programs to assist with the cost of decent bikes in order to not only participate, but compete.

    I’m fascinated by the Board initiative and interested to see where it goes!

    1. You are right Cynthia. It’s an expensive sport regardless of gender, and since women in general tend to make less money than men, it affects us even more. Thank you for stopping by. I too can’t wait to see what happens.

      1. That’s true about the pay disparity. And from the mid-income level even, as a mom to three, with our budget it’s hard to justify buying myself a good bike out of our household budget for my “hobby”, when my kids need things or maybe we want to have a family vacation this year. So there’s this whole other element of guilt, prioritization of my personal journey vs. the family’s needs – I find that for women decisions are much more complicated and emotional than for men. Not to generalize, I mean for some men perhaps it’s true – my husband doesn’t go out and buy anything fancy either. But I do have male relatives and friends who think nothing of a golf weekend with other male friends, while the wives are clipping coupons and sacrificing their fitness or hobbies, or they don’t sign up for an exercise class or with a gym because of the cost.

        1. On the same boat, I can’t justify a million races at the current costs when it is something I am the one participating in. Some is fine, balance is key, but family first. As women … I think many of us relate to that.

  2. I don’t know your personal situation, however it sounds like you were looking for a sponsor in the triathlon world. This being said, you need to be able to bring something to the table that makes you different from others. Typically its race winnings or amount of races you do. It may be that your a coach or club leader. I’m sponsored by 3 very great sponsors, however applied for about 25. I win my age group in almost every race, and race 16 races a year on average and didnt get picked on 22 of the 25 submitted. I ride a P5 cervello 8000 bike, spend an average out of pocket 9400 dollars a year on gear and races, i run a TRI Club and know many race directors and bike/gear shop owners. Sponsors don’t care about the equipment or financial situation of who they are sponsoring otherwise id have been picked by everyone, rather the return on their investment with you. I suggest, to help you out, continuing working hard, start placing in races, do more races (min 8 a year) to get your name out there, become friends with local clubs local bike shops and gear shops, and race directors. Then bring that to the table with “this is what i can provide you mr sponsor”. They have a lot of applications and the MAIN NATIONAL TEAM Cobb Cycling i represent is only 150 total in all. Its more competitive to get a sponsor then the actual races. I’m sure your a great athlete, keep up the great work, you will get your sponsors/support but you have to look at it from their business point. Happy training and best wishes. Michael K.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment Michael, but I am not sure you read me right. Though I would love sponsors, I am at the back of the pack and by no means on the journey to the front. I am hanging in there for dear life. However I do appreciate your thoughtfulness … thank you.

  3. A friend sent me this blog post this afternoon when I shared with her my disappointment concerning the lack of diversity. I was disappointed to not be chosen because as you stated being chosen feels GREAT! But I was even more disappointed that there was not one BIT of diversity represented in those selected. It was a large sting for me. Because when I think of encouraging women to enter triathlons, I think of all the minority women who are missing out on the greatness of multisport, because of social norms or stereotypes you hit on in your post.

    I didn’t think it would be about who is the mightiest of them all, rather, I was hoping for the voices of the “common” woman. Sadly it is my opinion that on the surface it appears that is lost as I am not moved by someone who is in a powerful position and finds a place on a board. No, it is the common everyday woman that I look at and say, “hey, if she can juggle all that crap AND be a triathlete, then I can too.”

    Nonetheless, when allowed, I will offer my opinions/voice to Women of Tri, because change comes from those who choose to push forward despite the obstacles that lay ahead!

    Great Post!!

    1. Thank you Novia. I just saw your comment today. I too hope for many opportunities to be heard, and if we keep talking … we will. Thank you for stopping by!

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