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Camille Baptiste is Here For the (Tri) Party

On the verge of burnout, Camille Baptiste found a new love for the sport by injecting life into her own local race scene.

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In 2019, just five years after her first triathlon, Camille Baptiste felt she was already on the verge of a massive valley. She was training for Ironman 70.3 Waco, but it just wasn’t fun anymore. “All of the training was taking me away from my family,” she said. “And, by that time, it also seemed that no one was content in the local tri scene. The fun was just gone.” Race attendance was shrinking and some of the mainstay beginner-friendly races had completely disappeared, including the women’s races that had ignited the local scene for years.

“There was nothing for the new people to come into, and when they would join, they would quickly get caught up in the Ironman scene,” she said. “Local races just weren’t coveted in the same way.”

Baptiste had begun her journey into tri after a local trainer got her into obstacle course racing, which quickly led to cycling, running, and then triathlon. The only problem? She didn’t initially know how to bike or swim.

Enter Black Girls Run and Sisters Tri-ing Health and Fitness Group. These teams met regularly to train for some of central Texas’s most popular events, so Baptiste hopped right in, took a few classes, and completed her first triathlon—the beginner-friendly Champions Indoor Triathlon at a local YMCA.

Within a year, she was tackling longer races and charity rides, including the Livestrong bike ride (which provided much-needed resources to her sister-in-law, who had cancer), the MS 150 two-day ride, and the Austin Marathon. She was also competing in multiple short-course races. And loving it all.

But then the spark started to fade. That’s when Baptiste decided, instead of quitting the sport, to kickstart new energy into the local tri scene and into her own tri life. She launched SwimBikeRunFun Events in late 2019/early 2020.

My formula is simple: Fitness + friends = fun. I'm here to ‘F’ things up a little bit in the triathlon world!

Of course, then COVID hit and it turned out to be an unfortunate time to launch a new events company, but she didn’t let it stop her. She remained committed to her mission to create local beginner-friendly events with “just enough jazz so that people can do them without much training and still be back on the couch in time for brunch!”

Her formula is simple: Fitness + Friends = Fun. She joked: “I’m here to ‘F’ things up a little bit in the triathlon world!”

How? By including things like budget-conscious duathlon and relay options for beginners, creative new venues that are close to home, invite-only designations, manageable distances for all levels, and spectator-friendly courses.

“You don’t need all of the bells and whistles to create memorable experiences,” said the USAT-certified race director and club manager. “I’m also tired of doing wedding-caliber planning just to do a 70.3 race, where you need the checklist for the checklist! It’s just not necessary for a little fun on a Saturday morning.”

Another important ingredient in her prescription for success? A generous dose of diversity and inclusion. “Most people only think about race,” she said. “But I also think about the size and age of competitors as well. Having the right people at the table in order to make the right decisions sometimes requires bigger people and older people.”

Because of ongoing COVID restrictions, her events have had limited capacity so far, but have not gone unnoticed by newbies and veterans alike—mostly for their creative concepts, unique locations, and “dinner party–like” atmosphere. That’s included the Chucks & Pearls 5K and 10K trail runs, the Sisters Super Sprint Tri, and the Veteran’s Day PinkStrong Shero Ride to honor the women who serve our country.

Even though she’s currently nursing an injury, producing these events still provides her with that purpose she was looking for in her triathlon. “If I can’t be fast, I can be fabulous,” she said, and that’s exactly the sentiment she hopes her athletes take away too, resparking a little of the joy that got her into the sport in the first place—and encouraging them to also “F” it up.