DC Triathlon Club is No Stranger to Luray Triathlon

By Charissa Hipp

DC Triathlon (Tri) Club, one of the largest triathlon clubs in the nation, has had a long relationship with Luray Triathlon. Considering the race’s proximity to Washington, D.C., the club has regularly sent dozens of members to the Luray Triathlon every year since its inception in 2006. “We raced in Luray back when it was an independently organized race,” says DC Triathlon Club President Bryan Frank. “We continued to support the race after Racine Multisports took over the event and maintained the small, independent, and local feel of the race. That is what we really love. The support of the Luray, Va., community as well as the low-key fun atmosphere surrounding the race itself has always made it a club member favorite.”

DC Tri Club got its start in the late 1990s as a listerserv, prior to being formalized as a non-profit club in 2001. What began as a group of friends wanting to swim, bike and run together has grown to around 1,000 members that still aims to be a group of friends who want to train and race in the multisport discipline. “While our official club mission is to empower our members to achieve their multisport aspirations, our unofficial club mantra is ‘a social club with a triathlon problem,’” Bryan says. Despite its size, the club still strives to maintain a small club feel that makes everyone feel welcome and helps everyone succeed, no matter their goals. “We run the gamut in speeds from fast to slow, in age from young to old, and in experience from veteran to novice.”

One of the challenges Bryan faces as president of the DC Tri Club is keeping a group that size feeling connected. Through both board-driven and member-driven initiatives, the club has training swims, rides, and runs, as well as social events that happen regularly throughout the region. They aim to have something DC Tri Club-related offered in close proximity to all members so that they feel welcomed and included. “There is a place for everyone in the DC Triathlon Club,” Bryan says.

Mark Wigfield, from South Arlington, is a federal worker retiring this December who bikes to work in Southwest D.C., near The Wharf. He likes the cross-disciplinary aspect of triathlon and well-rounded conditioning. “I have done running races over the years, including one marathon, and I swam off and on for fitness and rehab after a mountain biking accident,” he says. “Racing triathlons put it all together.”

A member of DC Tri Club for two years, Mark is no stranger to Luray. When he first heard about the triathlon several years ago online, he was eager to try it. He had been hiking and canoeing in Luray for years and had friends with a cabin just outside of town. “I like the hills and the town and the fact that you can camp onsite,” he says of the Luray Triathlon. Mark has raced in it at least five times and has been on the age-group podium, in second or third place, four times.

This year, Mark has been training for Luray by following an intermediate international training plan that is available through Garmin Connect. In the past he’s also taken classes offered through the DC Tri Club on planning a racing season and heart rate training, which he says have been very helpful.

Sean Maloney has lived in Washington, D.C. for nearly a decade and will be competing in his first Luray Triathlon this year. He joined the DC Tri Club in 2014 after completing his first triathlon and has been an active member ever since. “I needed help and wanted community,” he says. “I knew I had a lot to learn and I would do better at holding myself accountable if I had a community of support behind me. DC Tri Club provided exactly that!”

Many of Sean’s closest friends have come from DC Tri Club and he credits the club with making him a better triathlete through group training opportunities. As a member of TriOut, the club’s LGBT Triathlete community group, he appreciates that the club values inclusiveness and welcomes all with respect, encouragement and a sense of community. “I recently stepped up to become one of their first ambassadors,” Sean says. “The club is the perfect place for all people interested in multi-sport whether you have never done a triathlon before or a seasoned pro. Between their incredible programs, race opportunities, and group training you can find exactly what you are looking for in DC Tri Club.”

It’s difficult for Sean to imagine finding a more supportive group of people than those in DC Tri Club. Whether it’s text messages to check in on whether he’s getting his morning runs in or a fellow club member to schedule weekend rides with, he finds the encouragement and support to be incredibly beneficial. “On race day, club members are there to offer advice and feedback as well as talk you off a ledge if you are in that all-too-familiar head space plummeting down a spiral of negativity,” Sean says. “You’ll see them cheering you on along the course, and they’ll be there under the club tent with a cold drink and thoughts on how you visibly improved that day or where you might want to build-upon in the future.”

Elise Serbaroli spent the last 11 years working abroad and is new to the D.C. area. After her divorce she decided to start over with a new job, a new city and a new life. She’s looking forward to competing in her first Luray Triathlon, which was recommended to her by a fellow DC Tri Club member. “The tri training has really helped me get through the reset,” Elise says. “It’s helped me explore my new surroundings, kept me grounded as I began a new job in a new sector and helped me meet people in my new city. I find all three sports very meditative and the training has helped me prioritize my physical health.”

A friend of Elise’s recommended she join the DC Tri Club because she was in a new city and was new to the sport of triathlon. She joined in January of this year and became a part of the new triathlete program, which paired her with a mentor buddy. She’s received invaluable tips from club member workshops and practice activities. “I would highly recommend it for any first-time triathletes,” Elise says of the program. She’s glad she joined the DC Tri Club. “I have learned so many lessons that will help me in the race but I can also apply to other aspects of my life, like the importance of transitioning,” she says. “It’s also been great to get encouragement and be able to learn and share fears and doubts with other people going through the same learning process.”

Virtually every year, DC Tri Club goes out in force to the Luray Triathlon and this year will be no different. “With dozens of members racing, we want to show our club spirit and character,” Bryan says. “We bring the club tents and banners. We bring out food and drinks for our members to enjoy after the race. If you are a member of DC Triathlon Club or thinking about joining the Club, we encourage you to drop by the club tents before or after the race and talk to our members and see what a great club we are!”

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