A final lap

GOTRIbal has reached a DNF in its journey and has closed this chapter of its life. To all the members around the world, in 20+ countries, I am grateful for your enduring belief in the organization and the community.  Most specifically, in your membership and involvement in supporting so many people with our strength of vision and purpose.

But starting with the end omits the rich history from which it was born. So with that, and for those who might like to learn about that history, read on.

Triathlon was the genesis of GOTRIbal’s life story.

When I first signed up to do a triathlon in 2000, it was only after I lamented that the only way I’d see my friends was to train with them – for a race.

I met them while swimming Master’s in Kailua, on the island of Oahu 14 years ago. And I quickly learned, if I wanted to see them more often, I would have to own a bike and a pair of running shoes — and a voracious appetite. They were all incredibly accomplished full iron distance athletes — three of them World Championship competitors, and one who completed the World Ironman Champ event (as an amateur) in the top 10 women.
These were not slackers.

And so I began my 14 year adventure into the heart of the beast…learning a heck of a lot about myself and others in the process.

But this self-discovery process is not new to those who attempt and compete in triathlon (or any adventure of this magnitude and personal under-taking).

Any person who is guided by an internal flame to better themselves in some way, through some physical activity, and to live a more healthy, adventurous lifestyle, has felt this flame flicker within them.

And it was that flame that ignited the beginnings of GOTRIbal nine years later.

Triathlon is similar to building a business in many ways.

It’s a sport that dictates from its amateur and pro ranks alike, an unusual amount of commitment and dedication and sheer grit.

The number of variables in training or racing that can throw the proverbial wrench in your spokes are endless. You can worry about them (which the Type A control freaks who populate this sport, do quite often) or you can add hours to your week planning for how to manage (i.e., control) them. A typical week for a triathlete, recreational or competitive, has anywhere from six to 40 hours spent exclusively on preparation; the physical, mental, nutritional, and where-the-hell-did-I-put-my-4-swim-goggles! kind.

But variables beyond your control are always looming. Cruddy weather, nails on the road, a parent-teacher conference followed by a flu-stricken child/spouse/parent who needs attention through the night…. there are hundreds of them that threaten the even balance of a ‘perfect’ training week or race day.

Building GOTRIbal was my personal four-plus year never-ending triathlon.

The variables, some wildly beyond my control, offered so many opportunities for learning that I felt my years of university education were merely an exercise in memory regurgitation.

Ever ask an entrepreneur “How are things going?” “Are you making money yet?”, “When will we see you on Oprah?” and you’ll get a quasi-blank stare, weak smile and a succinct reply.

Sort of like asking a 9 year old how school was that day. “Good”, “Busy” or “Fine”, “Still plowing away”, seem the only vocabulary we can muster, as explaining the vortex of activities we are involved in at any given 24 hour moment seems overkill to such a kind-hearted question.

Like triathlon, there is a swarming mass of details to orchestrate, and yet, the ever-present signal forcing you to Just Focus on one thing remains.
Like triathlon, there are competitors, that in the beginning you don’t really pay attention to, but as you continue the journey, you notice more and more. Despite the ever present noise you hear from a coach or friends advising you to Focus on the one thing (your gait, your cadence, your breathing) and ignore the competition, you look up every so often to see one passing you – the one that’s been in your age group for awhile, but somehow found the cash for better equipment, a top notch coach, and the team to take their training to another level.

You might be in the same race, but your competitor minimized the variables slowing her down, and she’s now racing stronger and faster.

Like triathlon, you are constantly learning. Whether it’s because you blew it (Damn! A flat tire on a tubular?! How do I fix THAT?!) or because you are proactively trying to be better (Have you ever bore witness to full cupboard of nutritional goodies endurance athletes go through in prep for an event?).

Like triathlon, building and operating a startup takes an intense and constant curiosity and readiness for learning new things; from anywhere, using any means, and from anyone, at any time, and however they choose to teach you.

In the end, sometimes you DNF (Did Not Finish). Any participant of an endurance event will tell you the DNF is the hardest pill to swallow on race day. But it too is another learning experience.

Despite all the commitment, dedication, and focus, it only takes one variable to derail an athlete’s plan on race day: a severe illness on race morning, a rumbling GI problem, a ‘mechanical’ on the course, a lack of discipline on their pacing, and it goes on and on.

For GOTRIbal, this is its DNF.

And swallowing this pill feels unbearable and unfathomable.

The Tribe standing behind GOTRIbal was global.

You, the members were born of an authentic desire to serve each person as a tribe serves its members; with unconditional support and personalized care – and you demonstrated that universal desire through the breadth of your geographic locations (from UAE to France to Australia to South America and Canada). You were a part of this four year journey and you created a culture of humility, authenticity and inclusivity in your quest to learn from and be connected to others who cared about health and fitness as much as you did.

To the Expert Coaches, the company Advisors, Chrissie Wellington, Marison Beniek and to Jeff Lund – you each gave of your expertise, your money, and your time to see this company serve its members to the best of its ability. I’m sorry to let you down and discontinue reaching for the ultimate vision. How we came so far was only possible because of your support, consistent and unwavering, in me and the organization.
To my family, my short expression of gratitude here is only a minor footnote in the appreciation I’ve hopefully showed you as you’ve stood by me in the greatest professional challenge of my life. Through the amazing moments, the surprises, the “can you believe its!” and the not so great times, doing it without you would’ve simply not been possible.

A DNF only signifies one race in time.

It’s what gets you to the starting line that’s important and distinguishes you from so many. Passion, motivation, discipline, inspiration, courage, and constantly learning about opportunities to get better – these are all still in the soul and mind of the competitor.

I will draw on these, and take the lessons learned in my first startup experience, to blaze a trail forward and be ready for my next venture when it comes.

Thank you to each and every one of you who joined and supported the Tribe in this venture.

Onward and upward, always.

Tanya Maslach