You may have already heard that from 2000 to 2010, the number of USAT-certified triathlon clubs has jumped from 50 to 831. Think about this for a minute. That's a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 32% for tri clubs. This is a staggering growth for any type of organization to sustain over a ten-year period. To put it in perspective, the stock price of Google has grown at a similar rate -- a 35% CAGR -- from 2004 until today. Growth like this doesn't happen by accident. It's the result of a lot of energy, commitment and organization poured into clubs at the local level.
I had the opportunity to see this type of effort first hand last night. Tom Begg, one of the founders of the Glen Rock Tri Club from Glen Rock, New Jersey invited me to their annual holiday party. Tom and team launched this club in 2005. Today, the club is home for over 225 local triathletes. It's probably the second or third largest club in New Jersey.
The holiday event drew 100-150 people at 7 p.m. on a cold Thursday night. I got a front row ticket to watch the tri ecosystem at work. The major sponsor of the club, Ridgewood Cycle Shop hosted the event in their incredibly spacious location. At least five incredibly passionate reps from major vendors were on hand to show the latest technology. I never really appreciated the benefits off a Zipp crankset until yesterday. I think the Cycleops rep would have taken me out on the road to do an FTP test that night. Rich Izzo, the race director of Toughman, one of the area's up-and-coming half triathlons was there to personally talk about his course and event with every member.
The event drew a great cross-section of the Glen Rock/Ridgewood community. Some were long-term triathlete veterans. I found myself discussing upcoming races with one member who had done more Kona IMs than I have done half tris. I also met a couple of people who had never done a tri in their life and came to see how to get into the sport.
I asked Tom what he and his team did so right. Tom said they focused on three goals. We wanted to "make it inclusive for all levels of the tri sport, from beginners to Ironman. We have engaging month meetings. We have weekly workouts and monthly clinics on run, swim and bike."
I think he made it sound too simple. Andrew McKinnon said it best to me. "The energy is incredible. Tom doesn't miss a single change to put a Glen Rock Tri club shirt on anyone!."
Tom, when are you doing your IPO?