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The power of the tribe

The scene in the film instantly brings a smile and a knowing nod.

A group of women were discussing running and described their conversations this way:

When they're together, outside of running, they talk primarily about, well, running. But on the run? Well, they talk about pretty much anything but running.

Many (if not most) people subscribe to the Vegas rule on group runs -- what's said on the run stays on the run.

It's one of the most powerful aspects of sport, the ability to find an accepting community. Discussions range from personal relationships to work environments to health issues and while women in particular may come together for training, they stay together for the intricate nature of the support and encouragement they receive from a diverse group.

It's that sense of building a community which drew Tanya Maslach to create the organization GOTRIbal.

A resident of San Diego, she is part of a vibrant triathlon community but after eight years as a triathlete, she wanted to connect with other female athletes across the country and across the globe.

She surfed the Internet one day but found nothing.

And so, she decided to fill the void.

GOTRIbalnow.com went live in January and now has 620 members in 20 countries.

"We just added Switzerland yesterday," Maslach said.

The free social networking site is aimed at women triathletes, helping them navigate through athletic andPicture 2  life waters whether they be entering their first sprint tri or training for another Ironman.

"The conduit for the journey is sport," Maslach said. "When someone is doing their first 5K or their first half marathon or their first half Ironman, whatever it is, the lessons are the same as for those doing their 20th Ironman. We're all learning a little bit more about ourselves in that process. What's so cool is that those lessons really apply to anything in life. We're just using the journey of sport to start that conversation."

The conversation may start about conquering fears of the open water swim start, but the forums on the website have allowed women to connect over issues they might not be comfortable discussing in other settings -- issues of anxiety and business and relationships.

And while the online community is growing, so too are "tribes" around the country and the world. The idea is that GOTRIbal can help women connect in geographic locations where the tri community may not be particularly active.

The venture has two-time defending Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington as its ambassador. Wellington is an eager supporter of the organization as she tries to use her platform to bring the ideas of health, fitness and confidence to women around the world.

And for women, the concept of team, community or tribe can be a vital component. There is comfort and power in knowing that other women, even those in the same race, want you to be successful.

As women gain experience and confidence and life lessons through sport, it reaches even deeper into their lives while their support network continues to grow.

"The problems they face in business are a lot of the same problems you face in sport," Maslach said. "You think you can't start a sport because it's too expensive. The business is too risky. I'm not smart enough to start my own business. I'm not strong enough to do a triathlon. The reasons cross both boundaries. And what we're showing you is that those are just excuses. That you have a tribe, a network of people, that care about you. Money and emotional and physical challenges are all hurdles meant to be overcome.

"When you let them become barriers, then you stop moving forward."

P.S. Because there seems to be interest, let me clarify that there are no "product placements" in this blog and that there are no goods,services or discounts received in exchange for a mention in this blog. 

--- Amy Moritz
 Follow Journey to the Finish Line on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amymoritz

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