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Raise your hand if you had the Triathlete magazine credit card.
<<My hand goes up>>
Was it a questionable business practice to issue a credit card with a $5,000 limit to a high schooler with no credit, on his way off to college for the first time, and (clearly) developing a multisport obsession? It was the early 2000s and the term “subprime mortgage crisis” hadn’t even been invented yet, so different times, I guess.
I remember being so excited to get that Triathlete-branded credit card because it was a cool, low-key way to be like, “Hey, I’m a triathlete. Ask me about triathlon.” It was like a business card, but for a business I had to pay, not one that paid me. And as everyone reading this knows, it’s awfully easy to fill up a credit card—Triathlete branded or not—with triathlon things.
In the two decades since I opened that envelope from a bank that probably doesn’t even exist anymore, I’ve graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism and a minor in statistics—where I also ran track and cross country. I competed as a pro triathlete on the ITU (now WTS) circuit, injured myself (repeatedly) on the XTERRA tour, and then spent the last five years doing my dream job. What’s that? Well, if you scan the bylines on our website, you’ll see that I do many of the gear reviews, which means my job is often to play with swim, bike, and run toys all day and then tell you about them.
But now, as of this week, my dream job just got turned up to 11, as I’ve accepted the role of editor-in-chief of my favorite credit card…er…magazine. And I’m so freaking excited.
Sure, it’s a funky time in media, but funky times call for funky people. I’ve spent the last two decades reading nearly every word written about this sport, and the good news is that I believe Triathlete is stronger than it’s ever been. The reason for that? You.
If you’re reading this, then you’re a member of the “triathlon community” — two words that I heard spoken by every single person who got up on the stage at last week’s USA Triathlon Hall of Fame awards ceremony in Milwaukee. From an Olympic medalist to ageless multisport kings and queens, they all said the thing that kept them going throughout the highs and lows of our hard sport was the “triathlon community.”
So this is my challenge to you, triathlon communitymember (I just made that up): Be critical.
There are now tons of resources available for triathlon news, training tips, gear reviews, nutrition info, and even opportunities for one-on-one tri connection. But as we’ve learned in the last ten years, it’s crucial to be critical of what you read—and that includes us.
Are you reading something that’s accurate? Are we being impartial? Are we giving both sides of the story? Are reviewers actually touching the thing that we’re reviewing? Are we actually talking to the people we’re talking about? Are we leaving our opinions at the door when it’s time to report facts, while other times bottling them up and properly labeling them for you to purposefully debate or have fun with? Are we and our sources legitimate authorities? Do you know us?
These are all the questions you should ask yourself whenever you read anything—triathlon or otherwise—but these are also the things we turn ourselves inside out to do right at Triathlete. Sure, we don’t get it right every single time, but nailing those questions is our goal with everything single thing we do.
We don’t want to just follow the trends of doing what everyone else is doing; Triathlete has been around for almost 40 years! We’re a leader in the triathlon community, and we work hard to keep it that way.
And that’s also part of the reason why things have been changing over the last 12 months here at Triathlete. Long before I ever dreamed that I’d be writing this letter to our readers, our team has been working on leading differently. We looked at the body of triathlon and saw that our community was its beating heart. With our parent company introducing membership for the first time, we saw it as an opportunity to let our readers in on the conversation—no longer just talking to you, but now with you.
We intentionally began offering much more insider pieces with expert opinions and unique perspectives that you couldn’t find on any press release-regurgitating internet site. We went deeper into gear reviews, giving insight that you couldn’t find if we were simply rewriting product specs from a press release or manufacturer’s website.
We created Team Triathlete, a flourishing place where our members can not only interact with each other in a positive, encouraging environment (no trolls allowed), but also communicate directly with the editors for the first time ever. We’ve hosted “Ask Me Anything” events with pro triathletes who are making an impact on the sport and experts who know more about tri than I’ll probably ever learn in a lifetime.
We’ve had fun.
The best part? The response has been incredible. Whether you’re a brand-new triathlete asking about socks on the bike, a grizzled veteran who wants to know if the latest smartwatch will do three-second average for running power, or a casual triathlete who wants to know if Gustav Iden’s hat has its own social media following, you can click our site or simply ask—and you’ll get an answer.
Moving ahead, I’m so freaking excited because I know Triathlete is already moving in a good direction thanks to the EICs before me. I’ve seen how the sausage is made for the last five years, and I know we have the most passionate editors, freelancers, experts, and readers anywhere in the world. Though we have a small-but-mighty staff right now, I’m working side-by-side with senior editor Susan Lacke, a tri expert in her own right who literally wrote a book on the way the sport has changed her life completely (oh, and she’s been working on the Triathlete team in one way or another for over 12 years).
Together, we’re going to keep pushing the tri community more than ever before, and we’re going to ask you to push us to keep our lofty standards. We’ll push each other, because that’s how you improve in this sport: Let’s get better, together.
Yours in sport,