In Our Own Voices - A Podcast
Last month Andy and I had the chance to chat about Open World Racing (OWR) on the Lucha Lounge Podcast, a cool local project featuring people discussing what drives them. We had a blast recording the podcast with host and founder Elijah Kang and I wanted to share a couple moments that capture the evolution and essence of OWR. And of course, please listen to the full podcast if you have a few minutes.
Andy and I bonded over triathlons and a little-known fact is that we both did a triathlon, albeit in different locations, the weekend before our first date. We love the sense of community that comes from participating together in a strenuous activity; even if triathlon is an individual sport, there’s a tremendous “pack mentality,” as Elijah put it. And as Andy said on the podcast, “This community transcends national identities, language barriers, and other potentially divisive forces, resulting in an incredibly supportive atmosphere.”
At a time when there’s plenty of bad news, we wanted to try to create something positive that brings people together. We wanted to share the joy of racing and the exhilaration of adventure travel with a population beyond our immediate friend group. And to reduce the fear factor and complexity of competing in races in far-flung destinations by guaranteeing our travelers that we have all the logistics under control. There’s much more to the story behind OWR’s conception, including Andy’s brainstorming with a friend who curates humanitarian project-focused trips to Latin America, but at the core was our desire to create something good.
Sports have always been an essential part of my life. Growing up, my swim team was my primary social network and today, my Y-Tri triathlon teammates are among my best friends and my favorite training partners. As I said on the podcast, I love how much of triathlon is beyond the individual athlete’s control. Going from the pool to open water was a revelation for me, as I wrote in a blog earlier this year. Mother Nature can be brutal, but finding a way through the occasional storm is a key part of the challenge and makes crossing the finish line so much more satisfying than in a chlorinated indoor pool.
Open World Racing combines the euphoria of completing these races with the exhilaration of travel to distant destinations. And we do this with a group of people who want to experience each destination’s unique delights (including tons of food and wine) and leave a positive impact on each community. Environmental service projects and meaningful interactions with the local sporting community are hallmarks of OWR trips. For example, in Croatia in April, we helped the local SCUBA club clean-up Korčula Bay, where the swim portion of the tri was held. Then we had lunch with members of the SCUBA club and the Split Triathlon Club. This element of building a global racing community sets OWR apart from other experiential travel companies and is what really makes us tick.
As I said on the podcast, you don’t have to buy a ton of expensive equipment to break into the tri world. For my first sprint-distance tri in May 2011, I borrowed a friend’s road bike (having never trained on a road bike), borrowed my mom’s very porous diving wetsuit (which was no match for a frigid Massachusetts lake in early May!), and had a friend coach me through how to set up my transition area. I was better trained and equipped for my second tri, which I did on an island off the coast of Colombia in 2016, but the language barrier and massive logistics involved made me realize there was a niche for a company like OWR. We handle all the logistics; you just show up and race.
Since last summer, Andy has taught himself basic website design, greatly improved his photography skills through classes, learned basic video editing and production, built a strong social media following, and worked closely with our wonderful intern, Natalie, on marketing strategies. The fire in his belly is an inspiration to me and we’re determined to take OWR to a new level in 2019 with trips to Croatia, Iceland, Colombia, and Poland. Won’t you join us?