This is the fifth and final article in a series of becoming a triathlete.
DC Triathlon Club: Is bigger better?
DC Triathlon Club is one of the largest triathlon clubs in the world with about 1,000 members and growing. It was only founded about eight years ago with a mission to bring multisport to the Nation’s Capital. The secret to their success is luring newbies into the cult, uh I mean, sport of triathlon. DC Tri Club has a New Triathlete Program (NTP) that includes a training plan designed to give first-time triathletes the knowledge and support needed to complete their first sprint or Olympic distance triathlon.
NTP ’08 filled in 35 minutes with 100 newbies. In 2009, the popular program grew to 150 new triathletes. It is rumored that NTP ’09 sold out in less than 7 minutes.
To meet the program’s demand, NTP’s class will increase to 175 this year. NTP features a series of workshops, training events, mentoring program, and social events along with their own website. This year’s goal race for NTP is the inaugural DC Triathlon on June 20, which includes sprint and Olympic distances. The cost of NTP is a screaming bargain at $100 for the entire training season plus the club membership fee of $35. This opportunity costs a total of $135. All NTP members receive significant discounts from DC Tri merchant partners. New members also receive a DC Tri t-shirt, water bottle, and bumper sticker as part of their membership package.
To find out more about DC Tri’s NTP program, head to the informational meeting at the West End Library in Foggy Bottom on Saturday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. Group leaders and NTP grads will be there to answer questions. Online registration is during the last week of January. NTP kicks off on February 1.
Travis Siehndel of the DC Triathlon Club told the EXAMINER that triathlon is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. Many people sign up for NTP to get fit or check off a life goal. Travis emphasized that NTP is an introduction to a new and improved active lifestyle.
DC Tri Club hosts numerous clinics each year on run stride analysis, open water swimming, bike selection and maintenance, nutrition, and flexibility. NTP has a unique mentorship program that pairs two to three novices up with an experienced triathlete. A mysterious matchmaker often pairs newbies with veteran triathletes who have a similar interest, such as, sports background, shared occupation, or an alumni connection. The mentor and mentees typically live or work in the same part of the metro area to increase interaction. The goal is to help the new athlete learn more about the sport and mix them in with the large mass of veteran DC Tri members.
NTP is run solely on volunteer support. In addition to the mentors, there are six co-leaders managing the program. The co-leaders organize clinics and workouts and provide hands-on instruction at group rides and runs. ‘Hot’ workout spots include Hains Point, Rock Creek Park, Macarthur Boulevard, and Glen Echo. Many members join our merchant partners Pacers and Potomac River Running for weekly fun runs. For organized swim practice, DC Tri uses Catholic University’s pool in the spring.
Unfortunately, due to DC Tri’s size and local bureaucracy, the club does not have a regularly scheduled year round swim practice. Pool space is scarce and expensive to rent. DC Tri members organize several unofficial swim practices in DC, Virginia, and Maryland and publish workout sets on DC Tri’s internet forum.
Don’t use force. Use a bigger hammer.
The best resource of DC Tri Club is its 1,000 members. With a giant club, you are going to find some impressive triathletes, real golden triathlon machines. They are useful because you may need to know where the best destination race is or how to train for the Race Across America (RAAM). However if you are like most newbies, you are only interested in the finish line of your first triathlon. DC Tri’s forum will steer you to group workouts; racing, training, and nutritional tips; ride sharing; and the beloved third Thursday Happy Hour.
During the warmer months, DC Tri sponsors Brick-nics™, which are a bike and run workout followed by a picnic. Brick workouts simulate the transition between each discipline of triathlon. An exclusive ‘NTP only’ Brick-nic is held at Lake Anna, Virginia with a swim clinic to help newbies gain their confidence in open water swimming. DC Tri also sponsors a training and camping trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.
A thousand battles, a thousand victories
In the past five years, DC Tri has helped over 650 triathletes finish their first race. DC Tri is the largest club on the East Coast and has won the USAT mid-Atlantic Club Championships for five years in a row. 20-400 people from DC Tri Club race each year at Columbia, NYC, Eagleman, Philadelphia, NJ, Savageman, and Nation’s triathlons. Timberman Half Ironman, Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Florida, and Ironman Arizona are also some of DC Tri’s favorite races.
In fact, the DC Triathlon club partners with Nation’s Triathlon as their official volunteer organization. The DC Tri Club provides two volunteer coordinators and over 200 volunteers for Nation’s Tri. Members of DC Tri are also committed to helping inner city kids by volunteering for Camp ACHIEVE Triathlon sports camp. Camp ACHIEVE is a free camp is in its third year and features instruction in swimming, biking, and running along with nutrition education that culminates in a United States Triathlon (USAT) sanctioned kids’ triathlon.
Triathlon can be a team-oriented sport. Travis Sienhdel told the EXAMINER that there is something special about sharing in the blood, sweat, and tears that are shed while accomplishing a difficult goal with new friends. A special bond of friendship is formed in the early morning swim practices, cold winter runs, and long drives to races.
DC Tri Club’s New Triathlete Program works because the club enjoys welcoming new members. They even throw a Happy Hour at the start of NTP. DC Tri centers their activities in DC with satellite events in Arlington, Virginia and Maryland. Most events are Metro accessible. If not, just bike there.
The resources are deep in DC Tri. Top swimmers, cyclists, and runners flock to this club. However, there is a misconception that you have to be triathlon royalty to join DC Tri. Many triathletes are strong in one of the disciplines, but are completely inexperienced in another when they start competing in triathlons. Unless you grew up in Australia, New Zealand, or Germany, none of us had a triathlon background when we started.
Because DC Tri is a huge club, some people are overwhelmed by the amount of club events. It is intimidating to join a group ride or swim practice. You may get dropped. But, look on the bright side, at least you showed up. Relax, DC Tri has ‘no drop’ rides. Plus, group leaders sherpa all of the NTP rides. The club also hosts inexpensive training triathlons, duathlons, time trials, and swim meets with a nominal charge of $5 for post-race BBQs. The support continues at the NTP goal race where 100s of people from DC Tri will race or volunteer while cheering you on. With a club of 1000 members, you will always see a DC Tri kit at races with their motto,
I am a member of DC Tri. I have never done NTP. My first triathlon went off without a hitch despite the lack of any formal training program, a hybrid bike, borrowed helmet, and purple bike shorts. It was not until I upgraded my bike (and wardrobe) did I join DC Tri. The camaraderie of the group, peer instruction, and fun people has fostered my love for all things triathlon.
In 2008 and 2009, I had the great pleasure to mentor a few individuals for their first triathlon as part of NTP. NTP is a first class act. I could not be more enthusiastic about DC Tri’s amazing program. Pick a program and take the plunge!
Get to the Finish Line with DC Tri’s New Triathlete Program: Cost: $135. The informational meeting is January 23. NTP kicks off on February 1.
Read more about: The National Capital Y Triathlon Team, Team Z, and Team in Training
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If you do decide to join one of these programs, please tell the club that you read about it in the Examiner!