Ironman, the Adrenaline Guy, and Adding Some Color to the Multisport of Triathlon 3

Introducing the Black Triathletes Association

With Black Triathletes Association approaching 2,000 members, the Black Triathletes Association (BTA) is an organization that promotes fitness and health through the sport of triathlon to the black community. This group offers a place for black triathletes to support, offer advice and mostly encourage one another in multisport activities. They welcome all levels of experience from first Sprint Tri to full IRONMAN.

It might be useful to offer some background here. What exactly is a triathlon and how did this start? According to Felecia Le-Ray Turk, “In the 1970s, a group of military folks in Hawaii decided to challenge each other and determine which group of athletes were the strongest: swimmers, cyclists or runners. So they decided to have a race, which consisted of a 2.4 miles swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run, and whoever won the race would be called an “IRONMAN.”

Over time, these types of races became extremely popular and many people started to participate in them.  Nowadays, triathlons come in all shapes and size (as do triathletes).

Super sprints, sprints, Olympic distance, half iron distance, and iron distance races are pretty common and doable for most people—-there is literally something for everyone.

Many South Fulton residents including our own South Fulton Lifestyle publisher rave about the sport.

“I LOVE this sport because of the challenge it gives me and level of fitness I can attain when I am full throttle training mode,” says Turk. “Triathlon training is also an excellent way to cross train across various disciplines. If you’re lucky, the sport of triathlon can also give you an opportunity to travel to exotic race locations (sometimes affectionately referred to as a ‘trication).”

BTA Founder Tony Brown: Adding Some Color 
to the Multisport Movement

They call Tony Brown the Adrenaline Guy.

But Brown, the founder and president of the Black Triathletes Association (BTA), isn’t your typical competitive athlete. He never played sports as a youth and despite the Atlanta Falcons tailgate parties he hosts across from the Georgia Dome, he’s not a huge sports fanatic. But in a three-year time period, he’s completed a few marathons and several 70.3 triathlons. Just recently, he successfully completed the IRONMAN 140.6 triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky, along with 20 other athletes from BTA.

“When I first started triathlon, I found myself as one of a few African-American athletes at a race,” says Brown.

It’s not surprising considering minority participation in multisport is one of the lowest of most sports. In a 2009 study, USA Triathlon found that African-Americans accounted for only one-half of one percent of its 550,000 member triathletes. Brown wanted to find a way bring awareness of the sport in a way that made triathlon look “cool” to those reluctant to participate.

As a technology consultant, he leveraged his skills in digital marketing, media production, graphic design, software development and comedy to create and grow the community known as the Black Triathletes Association (BTA).

BTA is a national organization that promotes the sport of triathlon to the black community. What started as a social media group has grown to become the world’s largest community for black triathletes.  Its mission is to encourage, inspire and support each other’s multisport goals. In less than a year, BTA has grown to attract over 2,000 members making it the most popular Facebook group amongst black triathletes. Hundreds of its registered members compete in various races across the country with experience levels including beginners, age-group champions, Kona competitors and even the first African-American Professional triathlete.

As an official club of USA Triathlon, the group participated in the 2014-2015 USAT National Challenge Competition and won 1st place in the Swim Session, placed 2nd in their division and was top 10 overall in the nation. This was an incredible accomplishment for the club’s inaugural season. Their notoriety as an IRONMAN TriClub has attracted partnerships with Infinit Nutrition, Roka Sports, SwimOutlet and others.

The club celebrates the accomplishments of its members and communicates news through its #BlackTriathlete Weekly newsletter.  Members are able to locate potential training partners in their city with an interactive Member Map on its website. BTA apparel is proudly worn by athletes to communicate that they are a part of the #BlackTriathlete movement. And for more popular triathlons, Race Team Ambassadors organize Meet & Greets to facilitate networking and fellowship with one another.

To learn more about the Black Triathletes Association, visit their website at BlackTriathlete.org.