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Shaunna Payne Gold and Lisa Ingarfield are Changing the Conversation of Sport

These 2022 Movers and Shakers are helping triathletes think critically about how our sport can do more and be better when it comes to issues of race, gender, and disability.

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This is part of our annual Multisport Movers & Shakers awards, highlighting the people you should know about who are helping to shape the sport in the year to come. Read about all of our 2022 Multisport Movers & Shakers

Don’t tell Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold (pictured above, right) or Dr. Lisa Ingarfield (left) to “stay in their lane,” because there are no lanes anymore. There never should have been.

“So many people think that DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] work and endurance sport don’t connect to each other,” Payne Gold said, “but they inherently mix and are inherently overlapping.”

After an experience in a triathlon Facebook group in 2020, where people of color were told their stories of racism and harassment in triathlon spaces were “too political,” Ingarfield and Payne Gold felt compelled to help athletes connect the dots between endurance sports and the world at large. Their conversations on how to do this were frequent, varied, and passionate. Finally, one day, Ingarfield had an epiphany: What if instead of talking about what to do and how to do it, they could simply just…talk? She sent an email to Payne Gold pitching a podcast, and within seconds got a three-word response: “YES YES YES!”

The result was [un]phased, a podcast that challenges people in practical (and engaging) ways to think critically about how our sport can do more and be better when it comes to issues of race, gender, and disability.

“A person’s identity and what they experience in their life are not separate from their training and their participation in sport,” Ingarfield said. “You can’t pull those two apart.”

In the 60-plus episodes to date, the two triathletes dismantle commonly-held assumptions in multisport, from the notion that people of color don’t want to participate in triathlon to the idea that the gender tri disparity is a non-issue. Instead of laying blame at the feet of the individual for not wanting to be a triathlete badly enough to overcome their many barriers to multisport, the podcast hosts talk about the greater systemic factors that need to change in order to make triathlon a truly inclusive sport. This often starts with bringing awareness to the simple fact that the multisport experience is not a universal one.

“Marginalized groups are often silenced in regards to their lived experience and told to separate their training experiences from who they are,” Payne Gold said. “My very close friend was riding through a park one day, and had filled beer cans thrown at her and her bike while she’s training. Until you, as a white person, tell me that that has happened to you on a regular basis, then you can’t say that’s part of your regular experience. As a black person, you can say that’s part of your regular experience, or deciding where you’re going to ride your bike and where you’re not going to ride your bike where you’re going to run, where you’re not going to run, those are day-to-day decisions that people of color make all the time while training. For another group to say that we have to cover that part of our identity is problematic.”

In 2022, they’re taking the next step by partnering with Gabriela Nunez to create Shift Sports, a consulting organization to help races, clubs, and organizations remove barriers to participation and create a sport where everyone is truly welcome.

“We really believe that part of doing this work well is helping organizations be introspective about the ways in which you unintentionally perpetuate systems of exclusion,” Ingarfield said. “I don’t think that you can really move your organization or your department in the industry forward unless you’re willing to go there. We’re really excited about that, because there’s nothing like [Shift Sports] in the endurance sports space, and I think it’s sorely needed.”

*The print issue of this story listed Gabriela Gallegos as Ingarfield and Payne Gold’s partner in Shift Sports. It has been corrected.