I got an email a couple of weeks ago, asking what Rev3 had to gain by sponsoring a team, and what athletes had to gain by being sponsored by Rev3. At first, I was dumbfounded.
Why wouldn’t any race series, why wouldn’t any race promoter, why wouldn’t any brand that had anything to do with triathlon, want to sponsor a team?
Obviously, running a team is a significant amount of work. You’ve got to organize a selection process, select team members, set up sponsorships, handle various logistics and communications throughout the team. If you’re a race series, you also need to manage your races, set up sponsorships for your race series (and this is alongside or separate from those your athletes are provided), and promote your race series.
Now, you can rely on word of mouth to promote your races, but a lot of races and race series are locally focused. For instance, MAX Performance runs a series of triathlons in Massachusetts. Promotion for a regional series can be done through local triathlon clubs. For a national series, however, it’s far more difficult to spread the word. You can attempt to spread the word through local clubs, but if you’ve no local presence, it can be a lot more difficult to draw attention to your races. Now, if you’ve got local athletes around the country who are in contact with those who run the series, who are making an investment in the series as well, that can go a long way towards getting athletes to show up at the races. Once they’re at the races, your sponsored athletes are able to listen on other athletes as they make comments about certain aspects of the race. If something was set up in a weird way, if something was wrong about the way the race was run, your athletes can be your eyes and ears on the ground (I hadn’t actually thought of this — Carole brought it up way back when she was doing interviews of prospective team members, and then Charlie–the godfather of Rev3– reminded me of it when I brought up this question to them).
Why join a national team instead of a local team?
There are actually pros and cons to both. A lot of local teams have access to deals with local bike shops where a certain percent is taken off of any purchase. You also get a strong base of athletes to train with (and drink with). Some teams even get discounts to a local race series or two. These are all very nice things that can be achieved at the local level. So why join a national/more spread out team?
- There’s the ability to act as an ambassador for something you believe in. I believe that we need competition among race series and not have everything run by one promoter/overarching corporation. I don’t think that Ironman is bad, I just believe that there should be more than one national race series out there. I also like that you can have multiple races per weekend. At Quassy, I’ll be racing a Half on Sunday and my brother-in-law will be racing his first triathlon, an Olympic distance race, on Saturday.
- There’s national recognition: “Oh you’re with Team X? Can you tell me about a certain race/athlete?” I’ve raced across the country and never been able to wear a recognizable kit.
- The sponsorship deals are slightly more general, but tend to be broader. Just as a local team is generally promoting local businesses, the national team can promote national brands.
- Finally, there’s a brand new set of friends you can make without even meeting them until race weekend. I’m going to Costa Rica in two weeks and I’ve already got a roommate for my hotel and places to hang out before and after the race. All through the power of email. Amazing.