There aren’t that many high profile professional triathletes, and I don’t think there necessarily need to be. But I have a few ideas that could really make amateur triathlon participation grow by leaps and bounds. I think what is needed is the introduction of a team concept, and maybe some rule tweaking.
I think triathlon clubs membership would grow tremendously if there was a really compelling reason to belong to a club. I mean, I like to train alone because I have to race alone. So outside of some seminars here and there, what does a tri club really have to offer me? Training programs? I can find those for free or buy them online. I think I can get more for my money by joining a masters swim group and take a coaching beat down there a couple of times a weak.
But if the idea of triathlon “Club” was changed to triathlon “Team”, things would be different.
What if every race had a Team division, and it awarded points not just for the top 3 overall times a team turned in, but within age groups. For example, a race could award 10 points to the team with the top overall men and women finishers, 8 points for second, and 6 points for third. But beyond that, why not award 5, 3, and 1 points respectively for the top three age-groupers in each division? This would push clubs/teams to invest into the performance of members on race day.
It would also encourage clubs to go out and pursue age groupers and keep them in top shape to earn points for the Club throughout the season.
Age groupers could really benefit from this type of setup. By paying to be a member of a club, they’d actually get something very tangible in return for their money. First of all, they get to be on a team. Not every age grouper is going to race every weekend, so there’d be chances for multiple folks to represent their club within a division over the course of a season. Secondly, the age groupers could gain a lot of tips from the “Overall” members of their club–that means training and racing tips along with what will most likely be a higher level of passion and intensity that will be contagious.
What about the “Overall” team members? Well, aren’t most of those types doing stuff like coaching and personal training on the side? The top level members of a club could actually be paid by the other club members’ dues to coach and pass along their knowledge. Worst case–they can use the club as a way to introduce themselves to potential clients. Even if there was no money involved, I can imagine some people would be happy to be one of the top dogs in a club for nothing more than a complete or partial reimbursement of race fees by the club if they place in the overall division.
Pros win too. First of all, they’d be in high demand by the more elite teams. Imagine a team made up of a few guys with some real jack…they just want to win. So the pro would not only get money from their sponsors, but also by team members and sponsors to wear their jersey.
How cool would it be if you were able to draft teammates in a race? Safety seems to be the biggest and most logical reason drafting isn’t allowed, but if it were limited to teammates, that wouldn’t matter as much. I mean, you are going to be much more careful to not cause a problem for a teammate, right? And penalties for drafting non-teammates could actually be increased at the same time to further encourage safety.
This may be a long shot to happen, and I realize that.
Series Instead of Single Races
There are some race series already out there, and they make up their own sort of mini-seasons. But what if there were State-level organizations that awarded championships? Clubs could simply pay yearly dues to participate. It wouldn’t even matter that there were multiple races in a state on a single weekend. Points available at each race could simply be determined by the number of finishers at each race. A small club could strategically rack up points on a big tri weekend by sending key age-groupers to multiple smaller races.
This isn’t all that different from what WTC does for rankings and qualifications, so why can’t it be done on a bigger scale? And why can’t it be across organizations?