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There’s a tradition in golf known as the 19th hole, where teammates and friends gather to celebrate their accomplishments after a day on the links. In Philadelphia, there’s a similar social club for triathletes with an equally apt name: T3.
“We selected this name to represent the final transition of the race where we, as athletes, transition from racer to finisher, from athlete to victor,” said Eric DeLone, president of T3 Philly Multisport. “This third and final transition has also grown to encompass the social and team component of sport.”
Though triathlon is, at its core, an individual sport, T3 Philly has created an environment where no triathlete has to go after their goals alone. Social support is at the core of the member-driven club, with activities throughout the year for triathletes of all levels. Twice a week, members meet up at 5 a.m. for “dawn patrol” group rides. On Tuesdays, athletes meet for track workouts and the Ben Franklin Bridge challenge, where members vie for the most bridge crossings and/or the fastest times. Athletes meet virtually for Zwift rides and races, and in person for open-water swim clinics. No matter the activity, the vibe of T3 Philly gatherings are always the same: happy and loud, with constant chatter between members.
“No matter the level, we can all benefit from each other’s expertise,” said María Paredes Fernández, T3 Philly vice president. “We create clinics and host discussions on topics that matter to our teammates, from race transition clinics to beginner rides.”
In addition to group workouts, T3 offers opportunities for members to get to know one another outside of their workout clothes: holiday parties and fundraisers are popular events, as well as the annual all-day Kona watch party each October. Their support also extends to local sports teams: T3 members can often be found cheering at Philadelphia Flyers, Sixers, and Phillies games.
This intentional effort to build a true community of multisport enthusiasts has propelled T3 Philly Multisport to all-time highs in new members, returning members, and total membership (currently at 159)—even during COVID shutdowns, when many tri clubs struggled. The secret to the club’s success, they say, is in their ability to listen to and respond to the needs of their members, whether it’s creating opportunities for connection when triathletes are feeling isolated or developing new programs in response to the barriers triathletes face. When teammates with children shared they couldn’t make the track workouts because of a lack of childcare, T3 implemented a weekly Tiny Tots Track Workout, where athletes of all ages could participate. During the race season, cheer stations are set up along courses with plenty of homemade signs and the occasional confetti cannon. After months of training and racing together as a group, race day feels like a victory lap for every T3 Philly member, even the ones not racing, said DeLone:
“When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”