Triathlon is inherently an individual sport. Athletes race each other and the clock as they move from swim to bike to run as quickly and efficiently as possible. With the exception of joining master’s swim groups, most triathletes train on their own, either for lack of training partners or the difficulty in coordinating life and training schedules with others. Even the race itself, with it’s non-drafting bike format, discourages collaboration and cooperation between competitors. So triathletes at all levels toil away in obscurity, logging long hours on bike trainers, treadmills, tracks, and trails, anticipating race days when they can finally hang out for a day with other like-minded individuals in pursuit of a hard-earned milestone or goal.
We don’t think it has to be this way.
Triathlon training, like any pursuit in amateur sports, is fun. Setting goals; chasing improvement; mastering technique; watching times fall; pushing hard physically and emotionally; succeeding, failing and seeking success again…these are great endeavors that make for better athletes and better people. But the joy in chasing speed has a multiplier effect in the company of others.
For women moving towards the top of their age groups in a small city, it doesn’t take long before the pool of compatible female training partners shrinks. So we find men willing to swim, bike and run with us, first to pull, then to share the draft. These are wonderful guys, generous, inclusive and supportive. And it’s from them that we earned our name – Bad Ass Triathlon Women.
But there’s something about a community of women training together that is special. It’s not just that it’s easier to compare performance metrics; it’s about carving out a space to call our own. It’s about mentoring, leading, inspiring, pushing, supporting and cheering other women. One moment it’s about hill repeats or hitting impossible send-offs in the pool; the next it’s about relationships, careers or health concerns. It’s creating a team for us.
There are very few places in the world where women can pursue excellence with other women. There are college teams and sororities, but those dry up at graduation. The ranks of business and law and medicine are slowly filling with more women, but often to achieve positions of leadership and authority, women have to single-mindedly outperform their peers, leaving little time for mentorship or collegiality with other women.
After Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York marathon in November, the Times wrote an article about Flanagan’s efforts to create a high performance training group in Oregon. All eleven of Flangan’s training partners made it to the Olympics while training with her. This wasn’t just to mentor younger women coming up through America’s distance running ranks; this was an intentional play by Flanagan to surround herself with training partners who would push and support her on a daily basis. The result was a competitive, symbiotic relationship that both buoyed elite female distance runners and provided fierce competition to prepare Flanagan and others to succeed on the world’s stage.
The BATWomen are a bright, fun, creative, committed crew. And they are fiercely competitive. This year, as in year’s past, these women expect to top podiums at local, regional and national races. Competing, like training, is fun. And by pushing and supporting each other we will be faster. We are stronger together. Join us.