It was a blustery, cold day during the winter of 2009. The wind was howling outside…destination: Blue Plate restaurant on Main Street in Mullica Hill. Michelle wanted me (Colleen) to meet her neighbor Lydia and I wanted Michelle to meet Maureen, my neighbor, friend and fellow triathlete. It was destiny!
The four of us settled down at Blue Plate, sipped our coffee and the non-stop chatter began. Lydia discussed her philanthropy and marketing experience. Michelle, who recently completed her first triathlon, bubbled with newbie excitement. I brought my passion for triathlons laced with wild ideas and sales pitch that was sure to sell and Maureen, the avid runner who recently completed her first tri, kept us all together with her voice of reason and sensibility. Our goal was to discuss the possibility of creating a triathlon club and raising money and awareness for a charity.
Our topics of discussion that morning were the “Who” and the “What”
Who? All female (this was determined within the first five minutes). Thinking back, I now realize we came to this decision because of our positive experiences competing in SheRox the previous year. It was so refreshing to be surround with estrogen vs. testosterone. Women in. Men out. No offense. We needed a name, a slogan and a logo.
Name: Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club In retrospect we should have picked a cute girl tri club name but we didn’t and this stuck! No going back now.
Slogan: “No Nuts, Just Guts” – too edgy? We considered it catchy!
Logo: A wave, a bike and a sneaker (the first draft we got from our graphic artist was actually a squirrel holding two nuts which almost made us rethink our slogan).
We weren’t marketing majors but with a name, a logo, a Facebook page and the aspiration of a website, we were ready to roll.
What? What did we want to accomplish?
Lydia wanted to raise money and awareness for a charitable organization, while Michelle, Maureen and I simply wanted other women to experience the world of triathlon. We were all in our late 30’s- early 40s and we thought if we could do it…anyone could do it! We were flying by the seat of our pants. The first year was very bare bones. No tri suits, no road bikes, no open water swims, we had NO money! What we lacked in resources, we made up in passion and drive. Our charity was Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Lydia generated a loyal following. Word about our tri club spread quickly. It was being discussed on the soccer fields, after church and at Carolina Blue. We started with four members, and by August, 120 women had officially joined the club.
Most of the members did SheRox that year, and for almost everyone it was their first triathlon! It lit a fire in all of us. We were determined to come back stronger the next year. Our minds were flooded with ideas…we could have sponsors, a calendar, educational symposiums, spirit wear, brick workouts, blogs and OMG we might (and it was a big might) – we might even be able to host our own triathlon! We were completely crazed and focused and full of spirit. It was insanely and I mean crazy-town contagious!
This year will mark the ninth year of the Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club. In the past nine years, we have accomplished much. We have raised a significant amount of money for Autism Spectrum Disorder, the Ovarian Cancer Foundation, the Melanoma International Foundation, Bring Change to Mind and Athletes with Disabilities.
We are now a 501(c)(3) organization raising money for our own causes. We host our own events including: kickoff night which draws more 400 women. We have created a Ride the Farm series which supports local farms and farmers, we have our own 5K, custom tri suits and apparel and yes…yes...yes...YES, we created and implemented our own triathlon called Queen of the Hill, a female only sprint triathlon.
Our outreach has expanded to young women with the addition of Girls on the Glow and Teen Tri. Over the years our club membership has soared to 700-900 women. If you come to Gloucester County, NJ you will see us! We are hard to miss. We will be riding down Tomlin Station Road, you will see more bike racks in one town than you have seen in your entire life but most importantly you will see women who are friends and athletes! All ages, all abilities!