January 2, 2019 at 9:40 pm #23297
Every two years, we send out a survey to all active members of the DC Triathlon Club. Think of it as taking the pulse of the club and seeing how things are going with our members, their thoughts on how we (the Board) are doing, and what changes or new ideas our members might like to see implemented. A lot of the questions are multiple choice or rankings, but there were a lot of open ended questions with chances for people to write out their thoughts. This thread is about those responses.
Each week, I am going to pick a comment from the survey results (the responses are anonymous so I don’t know who wrote them), and write a [hopefully] detailed response! I can be long-winded sometimes, but hopefully these responses will be informative and fun and help make our club even better!
Bryan (2019 DC Triathlon Club President)January 2, 2019 at 10:16 pm #23298
Survey response about value of membership: “It’s lessened considerably since we got rid of the forums on the web site (I’ve been a member since 2004). The other social media forums don’t duplicate the ability to connect with club members over our shared experiences in the sport (and are too scattered, to boot). Without one place to connect, it’s not terribly useful.”
- Well, first off, the forums have not been done away with! They are still here! See! I’m writing in it right now! 😛
- But yes, the forums are a lot less active than they were on the previous website and generally in previous years. A lot of the conversation traffic seems to have moved over to the community Facebook groups, the program Facebook groups, and the club Facebook page. However, we realize that not everyone has Facebook (for various reasons) and social media apps are not really the best place to have conversations in order to be all inclusive of our membership. We would definitely like to drive chatter back here to the club forums and we are going to implement some ideas this year that will hopefully help with that in 2019!
- One great option about this club forum over the old website’s forum is that this version does allow direct messaging! And it allows you to set up a club member profile with avatar and contact information, etc. You can create group conversations. You can tag other club members in posts so that they see it too! We had hoped members would organically discover these options, but perhaps we need to be more active about showcasing the features of the forum and hopefully that will drive participation.
- We encourage everyone to add an avatar image, add a cover image, and use the forums! Post workouts! Ask if anyone wants to go drink and talk triathlon! We are a large community of like-minded folks who share a love of multisport racing!
That’s a rambling answer, but hopefully you will see some changes this year that drive some content and usage to the forums and help us develop a better community of friends!
President | DC Triathlon ClubJanuary 8, 2019 at 2:04 pm #23406
This is great Bryan! Love the idea of addressing some of the member issues that came up in the survey.
Regarding the Forum, I’ll admit to being someone (even as a board member) who primarily uses FB as my way to connect with other members, but Forum discussions still have their place. And the more folks who return to posting here, the more traffic we will have. So let’s get back to the Forums, folks!January 8, 2019 at 6:14 pm #23427
Survey response about value of membership: “Not much – the club is designed for younger people and that’s fine. There really is not much room for older folks, and the clubs constellation continues to reinforce inadvertently. You will get some older people 55 plus who participate in beginner tri training but most don’t stay. It is what it is… but it’s an aging out thing.”
I want to take this response and expand it out because this comment can really apply to a lot of different aspects in the Club that all fall under a similar thought. For lack of a better way to put it, this comment can be generalized into “the club focuses on _____ and ignores _____.” That’s a bad generalization, but it will allow me to broaden the scope of my answer.
- First off all, let’s start with the general demographics of the Club. Yes, the club is primarily a younger person club. The largest age group in the club is 35-39 with the second largest age group being 40-44. Those two age groups alone account for about 1/3 of our membership. The member distribution drops off more precipitously on the 45+ side than it does on the 34 & under side. So yes, we are a Club on the “younger” side, but we are in line with general USA Triathlon age group participation. The largest age groups participating in multisport events tend to be 35-39 and 40-44. However, we do differ from the general triathlon demographics in female:male ratio! The general triathlon participation is roughly 40% female; however the DC Triathlon Club demographics are over half women! About 52% at last check! To dive further into the demographics:
- The Club is VERY heavily caucasian. We don’t know exactly what the percentages are, but my guess would be that we are 80% caucasian if not higher. That vastly differs from the ethnic diversity of the Washington DC area, but it does not differ that significantly from USA Triathlon numbers. Triathlon tends to be a very caucasian sport. Individually for the sports, swimming and cycling tend to be very caucasian sports while running has a much higher diversity.
- Where we are similar to the Washington DC area is in the LGBT percentage of our members. The Washington DC area has about 9% of its population self-identifying as a member of the LGBT community, which is a lot higher than the national average (around 5%, I believe). The Club numbers (through self-identification) are very similar to that, so we are representative of the region in this aspect.
- Fun statistic, USA Triathlon reports that the median income for triathletes is $126,000 per year. I will personally apologize for bringing that number down! 😛
- So why did I bring up all that demographic information? I did so because the leadership of the Club reflects these demographics. There are 14 members on the club’s Board of Directors. We are all on the “younger side” with our mean age in the 35-44 range. We are about 40% female (so slightly less than the general club demographics), but were at 50% female back in 2018 under the previous Board. We are primarily caucasian. We have our first Indian serving on the Board now and I’m super excited about that! We are also about 14% self-identifying as LGBT. So the leadership generally reflects the makeup of the larger club!
- To add to that, we (the Board) all volunteer our time to lead the Club. We all have full-time jobs, do our own training, and do our own racing, as well as hope to have some semblance of a social life (I fail miserably at this last one). So the scope and time of what we personally can do to encompass everyone in the Club is somewhat limited! We have tried to get some things going to involve those who feel on the outside from the “norm” of the Club, but we have had limited success in getting those going and being sustained. I will mention one success story below.
- But this brings me (like I said… I’m long-winded) back to the point of “the club focuses on ____ and ignores ____.” There is only so much we (the Board) can do to involve everyone or specific parts of our demographic. So that is why we look for the Club members to step up and help us out by leading an effort to corral a certain demographic, a certain speed, or a certain type of club member.
- For example, I am a single white male in his early 40s (it’s still early!) with no children, who races at the very front of the pack, and who identifies as part of the LGBT community. Me offering to lead a group of people who are over 50 on a run, or to lead a slow to moderate paced group on a ride, or to take a parents group on an open water swim just doesn’t make sense. Me trying to spearhead an African American group or to set up a straight triathlon singles dating night would probably crash and burn as ideas! But me leading a Team of fast people does make sense!
- Above, I said I would mention a success story of members stepping up, and that would the TriOut community group. Years ago, we heard remarks that there was no LGBT triathlon club in the Washington DC area despite the higher than national average self-identifying as LGBT. So we encouraged them to form a community group and do their thing and members of that community stepped up! They have been going strong for over 5 years now with monthly happy hours, annual training camps, fund-raising efforts, and regular training swims, rides, and runs! And that was all member led! We just provided the avenue for them to put the word out there, to reach the club members, and they ran with it and the group is thriving!
So my hope when I see a comment about the club ignoring a specific demographic is that a person from that group will step up and help organize something to fill that void! We want everyone to feel welcome in the Club, but the members of the Board can only do so much to make that happen!
I know that was a very long answer and kind of threw the impetus back on members, but we want to be a member driven club and not just rely on the Board to drive the ideas and activities. Here are some suggestions to get you started if you are looking for a particular demographic/pace to get together:
- Post to the forum about a workout that you are going to do and invite others (of a particular age bracket or pace) to join you.
- Post to the forum offering up a night to go to a happy hour with people in a specific demographic and see if you can’t get a group together to talk ideas about how the club can better serve that group.
#thereisaplaceforeveryoneinDCTRI (credit to @JHJ20012 for the hashtag)
President | DC Triathlon ClubJanuary 8, 2019 at 11:30 pm #23435
Regarding Bryan’s post addressing the value of membership to the Club’s “older” members, I would add two points from the perspective of someone who falls in the “older” category at age 50.
First – one of the aspects of triathlon that I’ve always enjoyed during my 9 years in the sport is the ability to train with athletes of all ages. A group of 8 of us trained for Ironman Lake Placid together in 2013 and our ages ranged from the 20s to the 50s, and while there were certainly snickers when the 20-something asked us what a rotary phone was, the training bonds were strong and we remain friends and training partners to this day.
Second – as Director of Community Development and Outreach, I encourage you to contact me if you have ideas or want to brainstorm about fostering a stronger community among the older members of the club. My goal is for everyone to find their place in the club. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s be in touch!
Director, Community Development and Outreach|DC Triathlon ClubJanuary 9, 2019 at 8:25 am #23444kev7Participant
As a 55+ year old member who has been a member for the past 10+ years, I’ve have never felt left out or not welcomed. However I probably participate less these days in the social events as the events often go past my bedtime! 😉
And I get pissed at the young kids that suck on my wheel for 80-90 miles only to drop me on River Road. This year will be different. Revenge is best served cold! 😉January 9, 2019 at 10:51 am #23445
Keep kicking a$$ Kevin! See you at OSP!January 9, 2019 at 8:45 pm #23455HutchingsMember
As someone also in the 55+ age group and a member with the club ~10 years, I also was hesitant to participate in club activities initially. I joined the club for the discounts which more than covered my membership cost. Everyone was younger and faster. I was passed so many times on River Rd, there was no way I was joining the Saturday ride. But I kept running into DC Tri folks at the races who were very friendly and encouraging. So I made an effort to get involved. Evening activities were a challenge due to family issues so I volunteered with the training programs. I learned that age is a non-issue and you can always find someone at your pace. I am now a regular on the Saturday rides who happily let the fast folks drop me like a rock and I ride with folks at my speed. And the friendships I have made are priceless!January 16, 2019 at 5:15 pm #23600Survey response about value of membership: The monetary value of the membership is easily discerned through the race/gear savings through partners, but there’s something to be desired for group workouts. There’s no reason why we can’t have a general (very basic) training plan for veterans (not NTP) that culminates in a goal race. This way, people can get amped together by training together. And if people want more, they can always touch base with the elite team for suggestions or local coaches that can modify the basic workouts. Community (in sport) is built through group suffering. Give people a reason to get together and you’ll have a more engaged community that’s chomping at the bit for the next session.President’s reply:
- I’m happy to hear that the monetary value of the club membership is readily perceived through race discounts and gear/service savings with partners. There is a lot that goes in to developing the relationships that derive these savings for club members that I will have to expand upon in a future response post, but I’m happy to hear that people seem to recognize the monetary value that is there.
- The bulk of this response will focus on group workouts, generic training plans, and goal races since that was the major point of the survey response!
- So first let’s tackle goal races. Years ago, we tried to pinpoint 5-6 races per year that we would put the efforts of the Club behind and try to focus our members to race them, and then we (the Board) would ensure that the club tents, chairs, post race refreshments, etc. made it to the event so that we would overwhelm the race course with our kits and look really awesome!. We always included the program goals races (NTP, HIP, etc.), the USAT Mid-East Regional Club Champs, and several others (we sadly have now lost our hometown race of Nation’s Triathlon, so that won’t be on any list again 🙁 ). Over the years, we saw that this was less and less useful. We could choose a slate of races and announce them way ahead of time as the Club’s Featured Races, but somehow we ended up choosing the “wrong” ones. People seemed to flock to ones we hadn’t selected and we’d only have a small crew at ones that we did select. So last year we went away from naming Club Featured Races. We still have the program goal races and the Regional Club Champs (we are STILL waiting on USA Triathlon to announce this race and we will broadcast that information as soon as we hear), but outside of those, we haven’t really opted to name “featured races” for 2019.
- The DC Triathlon Club is a different entity from a smaller team like District Multisport where members are required to race a set of specified races on the team’s race schedule and are required to race in the team’s kit in order to stay on the team every year. We don’t have those requirements. We have a broader base and we encourage our members to race all over the region, the country, and the world. We don’t require our general club members to race in the club kit (the Club’s Elite Team is different). We highly encourage our members to sport the club kit or to wear a club visor or hat so that we can recognize you on the race course and cheer for you, but we don’t require it. Given how big the club is and the variety in our demographics as described above, we spread out all over the area and it’s very tough to get the club focused on a specific goal race.
- Having said all that though, I am all for bringing the idea of “featured races” back and getting some races for club members to focus toward, but we can’t read club members’ minds, so we try to encourage everyone to tell us what races they are doing on the Club’s Upcoming Races page by “attending” the race (if you don’t see a race there, then please email support@dctriclub to get it added!). Hopefully that will help us focus our members on specific races so that we can build that community of club members racing together again! And if we (the Board) see a lot of people aiming toward one race, we will work with people going to get the club tents and chairs there and give them a budget to buy refreshments for club members.
- And just so you don’t have to go searching, here are the program goal races for 2019 and we encourage everyone to join us at one, some, or all of them, even if it’s just to cheer:
- Now let’s dive into a discussion of group workouts! Spoiler alert:my conclusion of this discussion is going to refer back up to ideas in my response from last week, but let’s dive right in! Currently the club puts on:
- All of these workouts are open to everyone and do not cost anything to join. People don’t have to be a club member to join either. We welcome potential members who might be interested in joining to come to a group workout and see what we are about. We encourage club members to join these weekly group workouts and meet new people and potential training partners who are on similar training schedules and train at similar paces.
- We used to have weekly swims that were outside of the Masters Swim Program and open swims for club members to get together and swim, but pool space is not cheap in the DC area and the one pool we had ready and cheap access to was out in Brookland and club members complained about how hard it was to get to during the week. Sadly we ended up dropping that because it cost the Club way too much and our point person for those swims moved to the midwest. We used to have Tuesday/Thursday group rides down at Hains Point and other weekly rides in the mornings. They were very well attended and lasted for many years but the point person for those workouts stopped riding and the rides faded away. We used to have weekend runs in Rock Creek Park and other weekly runs and track workouts around the area, but they either faded away because the point person moved or were canceled because of no attendance.
- That’s what we’ve had in the past and what we currently have going on. Is there room for more? Most definitely! But as I forewarned above: the conclusion here is the same as above. We need the help of club members to do this! The common denominator of our weekly training events fading away has been the loss of a point person. The track workouts, winter marathon group and Tuan’s Sunday rides all have a point person that is there every week for people to corral around. The Saturday ride is really the only thing that has managed to go on without a single point person leading the ride.
- Side note regarding another member response: we will start making definitive calls about when the ride moves between winter and summer hours so there aren’t endless discussions about when the ride switches.
- So I want to encourage club members: if you have a standing workout that you do every week, please share that with us on the club forum and let’s see if we can get more group workouts going and more interaction between our members! The club Board can only do so much. I can say “hey, people should meet at such and such place on such and such day at such and such time to do such and such,” but if no one is there as the point person then it really is a futile effort. And as I mentioned previously: me leading a group ride or a group run is more likely to be a disaster as I ride or run off at my pace making people glare angrily at me. So the Board can only have so much influence on making group workouts successful, we need the help of our members.
- Now having said that, we are going to try a new idea this year that we are still fleshing out details on that will hopefully drive more regular group workouts. We are still ironing out the specifics, but hope to have this idea launched by February 1 and implementation of the idea started by March 1. So please stay tuned for that idea to be announced!
- In addition, I am working on another idea that will hopefully bring more weekly runs to the Club. That will also be announced soon once I get things finalized! As for weekly swims, we encourage members to try the Masters Swim Program and see what the swim coaches can do for you and how they can help you out. And once it warms up, we encourage someone to start a weekday ride again!
- Finally, a quick word about basic training plans. There is a fine line we balance here given that we want to encourage our members to participate in our distance programs but we also realize that you can get basic training plans free off the internet. That’s why the strength of these programs is in the technique clinics, the information and the interaction with coaches, instructors, and other program participants, and a more in depth training plan that is way greater and more utile than any free training plan you can get online. So we want to encourage you to join the programs and join other club members aiming toward a common goal race. These programs are not about making money for the Club. The programs essentially run at cost for facility rentals, coaching fees, instruction time, etc. However, club members can also talk amongst each other, find a common goal race, and develop a group training plan that has them all doing the same workouts together! But that’s a member driven effort!
- So I think that covers a lot of information. I wouldn’t say it’s a completely coherent response as I’m sure I ramble around a lot, but that’s my response for the week!
President | DC Triathlon ClubJanuary 19, 2019 at 10:39 am #23657Katie O’DriscollParticipant
I am new to the group, and was checking out your posts here. Were those weekly non-masters swims in Brookland at Catholic? I’m the rowing coach there and would be happy to serve as a point person if there is interest in getting those back up and running. It’d be great to have some company here!
Katie O’DriscollJanuary 22, 2019 at 9:40 pm #23707
First off, welcome to the club! And yes, these weekly swims were at the CUA facility. I will chat our Director of Training and see if we can poll the club for interest in bringing these back! Thanks for offering to be the point person!
BryanJanuary 23, 2019 at 1:48 pm #23791
Survey response about value of membership: It took awhile to figure out how the club works – more comprehensive information when joining would be helpful. And it’s sometimes hard to tell what information is current on the website.
First off, welcome to the club! We are happy that you have joined us and we hope you have figured out how the club works now!
We realize that the club can seem daunting and intimidating at times. After all, the sport of triathlon itself can be daunting and intimidating almost all the time! We strive to provide a very welcoming atmosphere to all members from the moment they join until the time they feel it is right for them to move on.
There are a few things that we (the Club) have for members to peruse upon joining and there are definitely some things that we are working on to make this better.
- We do have a page of Frequently Asked Questions. This was added to the website last year and will be continually under development as we discover recurring questions from members that we could add here. We are playing with the format as well as I am not entirely happy with how the page aesthetically looks!
- We regularly point members to the Club Calendar. This calendar contains the majority of club events including happy hours, training events, meetings, seminars, etc. These are up-to-date with everything that is happening around the DC Triathlon Club! The calendar is fairly utile in that you can select specific groups of events to look at (Races, Club Events, Community Groups, Bike Training, etc) if you want to find something that you feel is relevant to you!
- Something we have in the works but that has not been fully implemented is an email that goes out to members once they join that lists out some ideas on ways to get involved.
- Regarding the website, we are trying to update things now that we are in a new year, so some items might be leftover from 2018. We are volunteers on the Board, so we only have so much time to update pages, but we are moving as quickly as our time allows. We are trying to make sure that dates (especially years) are listed at the top of pages (especially the Club Races page) so that members are aware of whether a page has been updated for the current year or not.
I had the pleasure of attending Coach AJ’s “Strategic Season & Race Planning Seminar” last night and meeting and chatting with several people new to the area who wanted to know how to get involved with the Club. These are the suggestions that I gave them and that I give to everyone who asks how to get involved with the Club:
- Find a club happy hour (club-wide or community group happy hour) and go to it! Look for the group wearing triathlon-related clothing (because our entire wardrobes seem to be made up only of workout gear and triathlon-related gear!) and introduce yourself! Maybe start off with a “Hi, are you all with the DC Triathlon Club?” as a way to break into the conversation. Let them know that you are new to the Club and this is your first event.
- Come to one of the weekly workouts (the Saturday ride, the Wednesday track workouts, a Masters Swim workout (did you know you can go to one of those for free to check out the program? Just email email@example.com to let them know to expect you!)) and join the group! Again, maybe start off with a “Hi, are you all with the DC Triathlon Club?” here too! Let them know that you are new to the Club and this is your first event.
- Come to one of the informal member meetings that we are planning (the first one will be in late February/early March) and get to know some members of the club! We will post details about these as soon as we line up venues and dates/times. So stay tuned to the website for those details!
The best way to learn how the Club works is to join us at an event, say ‘hello’ to us, and we will do our best to make you feel right at home get you on the way to enjoying your time with us and feeling like part of an amazing Club!
President | DC Triathlon ClubJanuary 30, 2019 at 1:33 pm #24090
Survey response about why you are unlikely to or unsure about participating in a club race: I’m slow and I don’t think that there will be anyone there. I also don’t want to hold people up.
I am changing it up a bit this week and responding to a different question instead of one about the value of membership. This week I’m taking a response from the questions about our club training races and why members might be unlikely to or unsure about participating in them.
First off, please do NOT ever ever ever ever say that you don’t want to hold people up or that you are too slow!! That’s not allowed in this club!
The training events and training races that we put on are for EVERYONE! No matter your speed. No matter your pace. We will be there until the last person is in cheering him/her on toward the “finish line.” We want our club members to feel welcome at all our events. This sport can be very intimidating. The Club can be intimidating as well to new people, I’ll admit that. But the Board strives to create a welcoming environment for all members as best we can and we try to make things a little less intimidating! #thereisaplaceforeveryoneinDCTRI
Participation in our training races have definitely gotten smaller over the years (we used to have 100+ at our training triathlons), but we hope to turn that around this year and drive more participation and that starts with making sure that EVERYONE knows they are welcome. We don’t judge people on their speed. We just want them to have a good time and get the support from the club members that are participating right along side them or volunteering to make sure you have make it to the end! So please don’t feel like you are too slow or that you are holding up anyone: you are your own speed and you are NOT!
We are working on transitioning the knowledge from our outgoing Race Director to our incoming Race Director and are also looking for people to help out at these events! So we are still in the process of lining up the dates and locations for these events, but they will announced as soon as we have the specifics. For the latest information, go to the Club Training Races page. We are aiming to put on our Training Race series again where you can earn points toward a championship title. You may not even have to be the fastest person to win this, if you participate in lots of the events you can beat out someone who just shows up and wins one race! The point system is designed to encourage participation over speed. We are in the process of planning:
We realize that we need to give people as much advanced notice of the dates on these events as possible and we are trying. Sometimes it comes down to how quickly we can get responses from venues. As for locations, there were some other comments about the locations being inconvenient. We realize that a lot of people in DC don’t have ready access to cars (or cars with bike racks), but the venues within DC to hold these kinds of events are severely limited. Hains Point is basically off limits because of how painful the NPS is to deal with. Trust us, we would host all of our events there if we didn’t have run-ins with the police there every time (and we can only plead innocence so many times!). And getting outside of DC frees us up for better cycling options (less traffic, fewer stop signs/lights, and safer roads) and exposes our members to great areas in the region for cycling and running that they might not have otherwise known about (I didn’t know about Prince William Forest Park until we did a duathlon there and it’s a GREAT location to bike and run).
But back on point: please don’t ever feel you are too slow or that you are holding us up. Please join us at our events and be confident in yourself and your abilities and that we want to cheer for you!
President | DC Triathlon ClubFebruary 5, 2019 at 10:57 am #24419Survey response about value of membership: It has been more valuable since the MoCo mafia really expanded to be inclusive and welcoming in the last couple years! Before that i never did anything with the club due to distance.President’s response:I really have no response to give here other than to just call out the MoCo Mafia community group leaders Jeff Halper, Jay Cochran, and Joyce Jones (also Director of Community Groups & Outreach) for all that they have done to make the MoCo group more active, inclusive, and welcoming! They have done an incredible job with the group and made it one of our most active community groups within the club. I mean, they have done such a great job getting people together and excited about DCTri that there was enough interest to bring a session of the Off-Season Spin Program up to MoCo this year! That’s amazing!The only additional thing I’ll add is to be on the lookout for all the events and fun that they have in store for you this year! I know there is a MoCo Mafia Happy Hour on Feb 21st at Pinstripes in North Bethesda to get the year started off. And they have almost regular weekend rides once the weather warms up!But the strength of these community groups and their leaders is what makes this club so great and so much fun! With how difficult it can be to get around the DC area (especially during rush hours on weekdays), the community groups are our way that we can still get some club member interaction going and keep the excitement of the club going!Bryan
President | DC Triathlon ClubFebruary 7, 2019 at 8:21 am #24451Jeff HalperParticipant
Hey, it’s Jeff – I’m glad to hear that the Mafia is being well received! One thing I’ll throw out there is that members are welcome to post additional activities on the Facebook page to encourage more participation. For example, if the ‘official’ group ride I post may not work for you, feel free to add your own ride with a different time/location/distance. One of the things I tried to do last year was post rides with loops, so people not training for a longer distance race could still participate (i.e. we’d do two 45 mile loops vs. a single 90 miler). That seemed to work pretty well, so we will try to keep it up this year.
We were all excited to get OSP in MoCo, 40+ participants each week makes the suffering more fun!