TriEqual describes itself as “a group of men and women dedicated to fairness, development and equality in the sport of triathlon.” I describe it as “a group of men and women that you don’t want to fuck with.” Growing out of the single-issue 50WomentoKona twitter account, TriEqual was founded this year with the goal of tenaciously agitating for equality in the sport of triathlon. A more sensationalist journalist would be tempted to say that “they aren’t taking any prisoners.” However, looking at how TriEqual has pursued its mandate over the past few months it would be more accurate to say that they are taking prisoners, treating them humanely, giving them a fair trial, convicting them based on factual evidence, and handing down life-sentences of equality for all.
James Lange: Roll call! How to you do Sue?
Sue Aquila: Tapering. What’s going down James?
James: Hey hey Biscay!
Hillary Biscay: What’s up dude.
James: How’s is hanging Jordan?
Jordan Blanco: Muy bien, gracias!
James: Woops, I, ah, sorry Miss..uh…Mrs…uh….Ma’am, sorry Ma’am. (I need to talk to Dark Mark about his research.)
Jordan: Lo siento, prefieres que hablo en ingles? All good over here!
James: Moving on we have the woman whose name is a sentence: Kelly Burns Gallagher.
Kelly Burns Gallagher: Just KBG and I’ll refer to you as #PropertyofKBG
James: Alyssa “Goddess”-ky!
Alyssa Godesky: Ha! Here.
Dede Griesbauer: Truly, Dede is just easier. It’s way faster to type than Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeede.
James: Sara Gross, the lady with the Brazilian………………..………Ironman championship.
Sara Gross: I also have a French……….. Canadian Ironman title
James: What ho!
Rachel Joyce: Good day to you, old boy.
James: Guten Tag!
Thorsten Radde: Du musst wirklich mit Dark Mark wegen Research sprechen .. sogar Google Translate spricht mehr Deutsch!
James: Hi Karen.
Karen Smyers: HI James (trying hard to hide my hurt feelings that my greeting was so blasé).
James: All righty then. I’ve gathered all 10 of you here in this Word document to discuss TriEqual. I really do appreciate you all taking the time. Just to fill in the folks at home, ahead of this interview, I created a survey for the 10 of you. So I’d like to start by going over some of the results.
James: Sounds good, “thanks a lot” Dede.
Dede: What can I say? I’m a woman of few words.
James: First I have a bone to pick though. Only 8 of you actually took the survey, and one of you only answered 6 of the 10 questions. Would “Giving it 80%, 6 times out of 10” be an accurate motto for Tri Equal?
Thorsten: As long is it means that 80% of the times 6 of the others are already working on an issue …
James: …Ahh…I forgot my German-Triathlon-Statistician to English Dictionary. Does someone want to take a stab at interpreting that?
James: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
One of the questions I asked the group was “Who is most likely to be a WTC mole” and Kelly was the top candidate. Kelly, are you a WTC mole?
Kelly: Well this one time at Lake Placid, Jeff Edwards, Andrew Messick and I formed a special relationship but since then we’ve all moved on.
James: You know, that sounds exactly like something that a WTC mole would say…
Kelly: Indeed anything is possible.
James: Now Alyssa, I asked the group to rank a series of vocations based on how likely they are to make a mother proud. Not surprisingly “Professional Triathlete” was the clear winner; however, “Director of Marketing”, your day job, was ranked dead last, even behind “Triathlon Statistician”. Would you care to comment?
Alyssa: Can we just make sure my mom doesn’t find out? I feel like it’s hard enough for her to explain to people Professional Triathlete; if she hears that Director of Marketing isn’t worth any street credit either……sigh.
Thorsten: At least “Director of Marketing” is a real vocation, where as “Triathlon Statistician” is just a hobby.
James:I hear you Thorsten. I self-identify as an “Amateur Triathlon Journalist” so I really can’t judge. Now, let’s get to some serious issues. By the numbers the greatest diversity and inclusion issue in Kona last year wasn’t the Ironman, but the beer mile where there were no female participants. I asked you guys to nominate 3 members of your group to participate in 2015. Sara, you were the run-away winner. Are you willing to back-up this vote of confidence from the group and commit to the 2015 Kona Beer Mile?
Sara: When i was at University in Edinburgh we had a run/drink beer event that involved running 5-10km between pubs and drinking a pint at each. Each team had to have at least one woman. Three teams called to recruit me. It’s a point of pride in my athletic career. Also, I made the mistake of telling Sue that story.
James: Karen, you’re the second nominee. Don’t you think that a 2015 Kona Beer Mile Championship would validate your 1995 Ironman World Championship? I’d be willing to run a little interference for you if need be.
Karen: The biggest mystery in sport is why I stink at the beer mile. (I have done it 3 times and I have yet to break 20 minutes without blatant cheating). I train year round for both (lots of volume for one and quality on the other–I love track workouts so that is a clue which is which)–but I guess the problem is not training for them together, ever. But, if I could get a travel sponsor to Kona for the Championship, I would gladly represent the female gender! I promise to keep training regardless.
James: Sue, you were the only member of the group to receive no nominations. Clearly your comrades have no confidence in your ability to binge drink while exercising. Are you disappointed in this vote of non-confidence and are you willing to commit to the beer mile right now to show these haters what you can do?
Sue: Who do you think led the committee to nominate Sara for the beer mile???
James: Any other takers?
Rachel: I’ll throw my hat in the ring provided the beer is warm and flat.
Thorsten: As a non-beer drinker, I’m willing to take a vote of non-confidence.
James: A German who doesn’t drink beer? Isn’t that like being a Canadian who doesn’t like maple syrup, an Irishman who doesn’t eat potatoes, or a Frenchman who bathes?
Thorsten: I’m used to being the odd man out.
James: If 35 professional women race in Kona and 15 race the beer mile, would @50womentokona be satisfied?
@50womentokona: Nope. Entertained, but still unsatisfied.
James: Hey, who said that? I knew it was one of you! Who exactly is @50womentokona? And don’t feed me any “it’s all of us” bullshit.
@50womentokona: It’s all of us. (Actually, Sara Gross gave some good clues in the TRS podcast interview (Episode 30 http://trstriathlon.com/radio/) so you have to listen if you want to try to figure it out!)
James: Hilary, you recently resigned from the Women for Tri Board, and in your past you’ve dropped out of a PhD in English. Do you have a commitment problem?
Hillary: Actually I would argue my commitment to ironman fueled both decisions.
James: Fair enough, you have finished 66 Ironmans.
Thorsten, you are the only man among a group of 9 highly successful, fit, attractive women. Do you ever refer to yourself as “the man”?
Thorsten: I think in triathlon circles “The Man” is reserved for Dave Scott.
Sue: We like to remind Thorsten he is not just another pretty face. Or a token.
James: The TriEqual mission statement states that TriEqual is “dedicated to fairness, development and equality in the sport of triathlon.” I race an 8 year old aluminum road bike with clip-ons, 105/Tiagra components, and Alex aluminum wheels. Isn’t it “unfair” and “unequal” that I have to race against people with $5000+ tri-bikes? Do you think that once the #50womentokona thing is resolved that the next task could be to get me a new bike? #1superbiketoJames?
Thorsten: I don’t think there is anything in the Ironman rules that prohibits you from upgrading to a decent bike. So I’m afraid #1SuperbikeToJames is not going to happen soon.
Alyssa: We’ll take that into consideration…..but the next task at hand is Fair Starts, and some grassroots initiatives to increase diversity in the sport.
James: Cool, cool. I suppose those are more “noble” cause, but I’m wondering if in all this talk of inclusion and equality, surely there is at least someone or some group that you think should be systematically excluded from triathlon?
Hillary: I’m all for far more stringent systematic exclusion of dopers. That is a whole other can of worms I would love to see someone willing to open but I won’t hold my breath.
James: On the TRS podcast Jeff Symonds said “I actually kinda like him. I think he’s a smart guy” when referring to Andrew Messick.
Kelly: I really like Brent MacMahon, Lionel Sanders and Trevor Wurtele but I’ve never heard of this Jeff Symonds guy.
Sara: Smart people can still make bad decisions.
Alyssa: I think it depends on your definition of smart.
James: The gist of Messick and the WTC’s position on the 50/35 male/female split in Kona has been that while it is not equal, it is equitable because of the disparate participation levels of the two sexes in Ironman. That doesn’t sound terribly unreasonable…
Kelly: I’m stealing this from something Jordan recently said but I think it all boils down to the fact that women and girls are still playing catch-up from years of underinvestment in them, particularly as it relates to sport globally. The idea we all share is that at the highest echelon of our sport, equality of opportunity should be a given, just as it is for Wimbledon and the US Open in tennis. You still have 128 women starting the tournaments and competing for the same prize money, even though, by the “participation rate math,” we should only really see 80 or so women compete at Wimbledon/The US Open. Does that seem fair? Is that the message we want to send?
Dede: The same goes for the golf world; a sport that is traditionally “male”. The number of registered male golfers far out numbers the number of registered female golfers at the USGA at the amateur level, but still, the US Open is a full field event for women. In other words, the same number of women compete in the US Open as men. Surely if a sport that still endorses “Men Only” Golf Clubs can have equal participation at the highest level of the sport, then certainly triathlon can get on board.
James: The World Triathlon Corporation is owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm that has only one objective: profit. Let’s say that somehow a partner at Providence got wind of this issue and at a board meeting he asked Messick “How does this 50/35 thing making us more profitable?” Jordan, you’re a “business owner and strategy consultant”, could you take an honest try at predicting what Messick’s response would be?
Jordan: For sure, Messick might say the following: “Well, those 15 women are too slow so why bother including them in the race… a better option is to make more money by auctioning off the slots on eBay, providing slots for overweight, high profile celebrities and encouraging those stupid amateurs to chase a Kona slot by paying $800 a pop to race all over the planet chasing their dream!”
James: You’d have to think that Messick has done a cost/benefit analysis. The cost is pretty clear: bad publicity and lost business from TriEqual sympathizers. So somehow the benefit of 15 fewer pro women in Kona outweighs that in his analysis. I mean, unless those 15 slots are being auctioned off for tens of thousands of dollars, or the entire cast of Glee is racing in those spots, or 1000 extra age groupers do an IronMan to chase those 15 spots, it just seems impossible that the WTC is coming out ahead. Am I missing something?
Jordan: Seems clear to us and the thousands of followers who have voiced their support, including many pro triathletes, both male and female. We also have some high profile Ironman/WTC sponsors stepping up and voicing their support… Gu, Roka and ENVE… Perhaps the cost side of the analysis will become clearer as the chorus of dissent grows?
James: Well, that’s it for my questions, do you guys have any questions for me?
TriEqual: No questions, just congratulations on the birth of your baby boy!
James: Thanks! I have 2 boys and a girl now. Anyone have any issues with that ratio?
TriEqual: #2GirlsForJamesLange has a nice ring to it…
James: Yeah, but #FourKids has a terrible ring to it!
Thanks for doing this ladies and gentleman!
Alyssa: As always, we really appreciate the support of TRS. Thanks!
Check out TriEqual’s website.