In October 2020, I founded Run Tri Bike, driven by a vision to change the discussions around endurance sports. With 15 years of personal participation, progressing from half-marathons to Ironman finish lines, I noticed a gap in the conversation—the absence of the everyday athlete. My mission was clear: prove that everybody and every body, regardless of background or experience, deserves a place at the starting line. To achieve this, my goal was to change the prevalent gatekeeping culture in endurance sports by breaking endurance barriers.
Mission and Goal
Rather than fixating on renowned marathons or elite finish lines, my focus was on the participants that were just getting started or ‘stood out.’ The emphasis would be on sharing the stories of athletes, showcasing that overcoming barriers to participation was not only achievable but also empowering.
“How It All Started” Feature
Our “How It All Started” feature became the conduit for illustrating that there’s room for everyone in endurance sports. It was designed to unveil the impact of gatekeeping on accessibility, highlighting the accomplishments of everyday athletes and dismantling the barriers that discourage potential participants.
Triumph Over Adversity
Through our platform, we’ve told stories of athletes triumphing over alcohol or drug issues. We’ve delved into the journeys of individuals with larger bodies striving for healthier lives through endurance sports. We’ve shared the experiences of black athletes learning to swim or riding a bike as a poignant return to childhood memories. These narratives paint a vivid picture of a diverse endurance sports community, yet the struggle for inclusivity persists.
Financial Constraints and Role Models
The dismissive notion that “anyone can put on running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt and run” neglects the financial constraints some face and the absence of relatable role models in the sporting community. Our commitment is to showcase stories encompassing every body type and background, fostering an inclusive environment where individuals can see reflections of themselves at the starting line.
Gatekeeping Across Skill Levels
Gatekeeping isn’t confined to novice levels; it permeates the elite echelons as well. Criticisms of an elite athlete’s form from individuals not performing at that level can be demoralizing. Elite athletes, despite their prowess, are human. They also feel the impact of negative comments, potentially driving them away from the sport.
Engaging with Everyday and Elite Athletes
Novice athletes face their own set of challenges. Inappropriate comments about their bodies or performance metrics can be discouraging. Why should it matter if Jane completes her 5k in 45 minutes or Joe rides at 13 mph? It shouldn’t, yet such judgments can lead Jane and Joe to abandon their athletic pursuits.
Recognizing gatekeeping at various skill levels, our mission is to dismantle these barriers. We engage with both everyday athletes and elites. Non-binary pro triathlete Rach McBride, featured in our Fireside Chat and everyday athlete Ali Robbins, shown on the cover of our digital magazine, exemplify the diverse skill levels facing gatekeeping.
Exploring Stories: “How It All Started” and “Enjoying The Journey”
Visit our “How It All Started” or “Enjoying The Journey” features to explore stories of everyday athletes overcoming obstacles, including gatekeeping. These narratives not only provide inspiration and motivation but also contribute to our mission of breaking down barriers.
Marley Blonsky’s story, overcoming injury and embracing her larger body to conquer Unbound, stands as a testament to our commitment. Oscar Gonzalez’s battle with drug abuse, finding solace on the trails, exemplifies the resilience of athletes overcoming personal challenges.
Shifting the Narrative
These athletes, among many others, defy conventional norms in endurance sports. Their stories are breaking endurance barriers by showcasing bravery and resilience. By sharing these narratives and reading the experiences of others, we can collectively shift the narrative surrounding endurance sports. Every story matters, and by telling yours, you become an integral part of breaking the mold in endurance sports.