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It all started with a good butt kicking in the summer of 2003. Twenty-one-year-old David Embree was coaching a kids’ swim team near Portland, Ore., when one of his swimmers challenged him to a sprint tri. The 12-year-old kid, Kyle, whooped Embree by almost a full minute at the Scoggins Valley Triathlon, Embree’s first go at swim-bike-run.
Despite the tween takedown, Embree was hooked. He joined the University of Oregon’s triathlon club and started training 16 to 18 hours a week while working on his bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing. After graduating, he joined Portland’s Ironheads racing team.
“It hit me after about a year of racing that I care as much about my friends’ and my teammates’ races as I do my own,” Embree says. “I love how community-oriented the sport is, and I wanted a way to keep track of races and how my friends were doing.” So Embree developed Athletepath and officially launched the website in November 2011.
The free, web-based program lets users see, compare and share race info from start to finish. It tells users when friends have signed up for a race, notifies them when results are available, and lets them post results directly to Facebook and Twitter. Users can also comment on results in Athletepath and virtually high-five and hug their favorite competitors. Age group triathlete and Kona finisher Amy Van Tassel describes Athletepath as “OK Cupid meets Instagram meets Athlinks.”
Race promoters describe Athletepath as the future of event registration.
The website makes money by taking a percentage of each registration fee processed through the site, just like any other registration company. But the word-of-mouth promotion that races get when athletes share the events they signed up for is a priceless bonus.
“To me, the piece that was always missing was the social side of it,” says Gary Wallesen, owner of Athlete’s Lounge tri shop in Portland, as well as the Portland Triathlon. “Spreading the word like this—that’s the future.”
Wallesen started using Athletepath for his race’s registration in 2012. A year later, “for the first time ever, my race sold out a month out,” Wallesen says. “That’s a cool thing to have happen.”
Race directors and athletes aren’t the only people with high hopes for the site. In the past two years, angel investors have infused the company with cash in two rounds of seed funding, helping it grow from three employees providing registration for 80 events in 2011 to nine employees hosting 250 events in 2013.
Events also use Athletepath as a social platform, sans registration. In 2013, more than 2,600 events took advantage of Athletepath for social networking alone, a nearly three-fold increase over 2012.
“In five years, we hope every event in the country is on Athletepath,” Embree says. “We’d love to be supporting events in 20 countries.”
His big plans for the future don’t stop there: Also, Embree says, he’d like a rematch with Kyle.
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