WITSUP? Gender Equity, That’s What

by klassman

When I can, moreso in the summer than the winter, I frequent a handful of triathlon focused sites.  I read Slowtwitch and Triathlete Magazine articles.  I really enjoy the Down Under perspective from First Off the Bike.  The business of triathlon is covered at the predictably named Triathlon Business.  I follow several professionals’ social media accounts.

It was through social media that last year I found WITSUP.  At first glance, you might think a site devoted to women in triathlon would not be so interesting to me.  But, you’d be wrong.  They do nice interviews, the content — nearly all as far as I can tell — written by women is not always just for women but for triathletes.

Recently, the WITSUP community (like FOTB, also based in Australia) has gone to the front of the parade for changes in how professional races are staged — especially the Ironman World Championships and the biggest of the Challenge races.

A four-part series on gender equity in triathlon is currently being published.  Sara Gross is thorough and even-handed.  Part two of the series is here.  As best I can tell they are also leading the effort to work constructively with the new Women In Tri panel established by WTC.  Go here to get a concise overview of the issues at stake and to lend your own support to the cause.

I signed the letter.  In the area where you leave a modifier next to your name, I wrote the following:

Husband, Father of Four, Supportive Dude, Fan, Finisher of Dozens of Triathons & Open Water Races, Race Volunteer, IM 70.3 World Championship Qualifier, Multiple Ironman Finisher

Being a fan — watching the development of races, seeing the human struggle and triumph, marveling at the execution of near super-human feats — brought the issue to my attention.  As I have developed as an athlete I’ve also gained a sliver of insight into how some of the structural problems affect the professional field — especially draft packs and the effect of strong swim-bikers and how they can affect the female professionals.  As a fan, I want to see deep and competitive fields and not tactics compromised by another simultaneous race happening on the same course.

Last night I took my 10 year old daughter to run with me at the track.  Afterward, we talked about what she saw.  It was an interval session with nearly 30 members of the club present.  I ran near the front of the second group and to her, I was going “super fast”.  She was polite enough not to point out how I struggled with the last 800.  I highlighted that the bulk of the leading group were women.  We talked about them by name and accomplishment: Mothers, 20-something professionals, a 50+ national caliber and record setting age-grouper, former NCAA Division I runners, a doctor, a writer.

Our family has resources.  My children have a strong and accomplished mother demonstrating how to live well. In the end, they will be okay.  But they and so many others will have their horizons broadened — in sport, in business, the arts, academia, the non-profit community — when they have heroes with whom they relate.

Lend your support today.  Make room for the next generation of heroes on the Kona pier.