Chair's blog

Hi MT’ers,

I thought I’d give an update on some of the behind the scenes info from the club.
I’ll try and do this a couple of times a year so you know what the committee are up to.

Feel free to turn off at any point, for those planning to stay the duration grab a coffee!

Before I start the update I’ll give you a brief introduction. I took over from Alvin Cooney as Chairman at December’s AGM having been a member of the club for a couple of years beforehand. Last year I joined the committee as Secretary so I sort of half knew what I was getting myself into taking over from Alvin.

By day I’m a hospital pharmacist, my triathlon career started in 2002, prior to that I’d done a little running at Uni as a cheap way to minimise the beer bulge. My first tri was on a rusty borrowed MTB, despite that, I was hooked. Since then I’ve competed pretty regularly from sprint to Ironman distance, mostly for fun but with a little bit of GB age group success along the way. Anyway, enough about that and on with the club update.

In our 30th anniversary year I’ll start by saying how great the anniversary kit looks, a bumper second order is due any day now. We’ll hopefully be getting a few column inches in the Tri press around our 30th Anniversary celebrations.

Club Kit
I’ve mentioned kit above so lets start there. The committee are well aware that our existing kit arrangements are not meeting member’s expectations as much as we’d like.  Kit is always a bit of a thankless task and not an easy one to get right. We have a clear vision of where we are aiming (and working) to get to; which I’ll describe in a moment.

Our aim is to have 3 kit orders a year with roughly two months turn around time e.g. 2 week order window, 6 weeks manufacture and delivery to club, a week to collate and send out at our end. We also hope to hold a small stock of race wear e.g. running vests and tri tops for example, so if a new member joins in between orders they can hopefully race in club colours. Even when we get to this point we realise people may want more but factoring in all the various considerations I believe this is the right place to aim for within the constraints of what is affordable and manageable. For example, it’s just not possible to keep stock of lots of different items in many sizes for males, females, juniors etc. both logistically and financially.

Going back 12 months our website took orders and payment but it was ad hoc when these orders were placed. An order could have been placed for a month or more and it would have been just sitting there as there were no defined order times.

We have introduced two defined order windows a year to give some stability and better manage expectations, with any surplus stock available in between orders via the club shop. As there are quite awkward minimum order levels with our existing supplier we do have surplus stock but it is in the less popular sizings.

The anniversary kit celebrating our 30 years as a club  has afforded us the opportunity to try an alternative supplier. We have recently sent a survey out to evaluate people’s experiences of kit to make decisions in the future.
Whilst we’re not entirely happy with the consistency of sizing, communication or delivery time associated with existing kit, we’re conscious it’s not always a case that the grass is greener hence we have not been hasty to move. Having said that, we are in a position where both the committee and member survey results indicate we cannot continue with the current situation.
We intend to make some minor changes to our kit based on the feedback received and our next order will be with Champion System the supplier of our anniversary kit.  We will provide a separate briefing on this in the next couple of weeks. When we do phase in these subtle changes and change supplier existing kit will still be perfectly ok to race in.

For those still awaiting Velotech kit ordered in January myself and the committee share your frustrations.  I can only apologise, we have done all we can do. Andy our kit officer collated the order in a timely fashion and has been making attempts to get updates which has provided difficult.  I accept awaiting kit you have ordered and hearing there will be subtle changes to kit is not an ideal situation.  We have stuck true to our order windows and delays are outside of our control. Not taking the decision to make changes where it appears logical to the committee and also the will of members based on survey results would be the wrong course of action. At the time of the last order we did make it known that these considerations were being made.  I hope those affected can see we have tried to operate in a transparent manner and in the best interests for the club and its members. If anyone affected wants to discus this in more detail my contact details are included.

So whilst we’re not there yet, I hope this gives a background to the work being done with regard to kit. By mid-late summer I hope we’ll be at the start of a better sustainable position in terms of kit.

Open Water
The open water season is starting or in the case of our Crosby sessions has just started. We’ve been liaising closely with centres to reduce our administrative burden and increase the safety of sessions. The biggest changes that members will see will be at the Liverpool dock session. The session will still be on Wednesdays but with times extended and we’re hoping to add value with some coaching or timed swims on offer.  This will be announced via the newsletter and other club communications.

We’ll be running a club aquathlon again.  The Mersey Tri 30th Anniversary Aquathlon will be Saturday 4th July. Keep your eyes peeled for more info soon.

Club Races
We’re hoping for a big club attendance and we’ll be bringing flags (plus hopefully a gazebo) to Southport, Manchester Boundary Breeze and Liverpool Tri.

A huge amount of work has been done by Sonia, Dave and the Wirral team so our very own Wirral Tri is on again this year and open for entries. Would be great to see lots either racing or helping out.
As far as Liverpool goes we’ve started working with the BTF on the race.
Although the race has been in Liverpool for the last few years the BTF have outsourced much of the organisation in previous years, this year they’re doing much more themselves.

 They’ve approached us for:
a)    Volunteers
b)    Participants

It’s great to have the race on our doorstep so I strongly encourage members to enter, volunteer, spread the word to friends thinking of having a go at the sport, rope family or friends in for a volunteer role.

There is a particular emphasis on first timers this year with City bikes available and pre-event novice open water swim coaching (that will be delivered by MT coaches). It’s a perfect opportunity to “Go Tri” or what ever their strap line is. They have recently extended the early bird entry discount. Lets enjoy the day and have a massive presence on the waterfront, The race won't be in the city forever after all.

We are being incentivised to provide volunteers and participants on a 'the more we provide the more we’ll get' basis. We’re still in discussion over the exact details but the kind of thing we’re looking at is a performance coaching workshop by a top UK coach, utilisation of BTF influence and contacts to obtain equipment for swim sessions at a discounted rate and potentially a club visit from a 'Top Triathlete'.

So get your entries in now whilst the early bird discount is still available (until June 1st). We’ll get information out on the best way to volunteer shortly.

The newsletter is a great regular sound bite of club information. Not everyone is hot on social media and to those new to the club the traffic on the informal page could be a little overwhelming so it’s an important communication channel for the club.

What I would say is our newsletter editors are not psychic, they are keen triathletes and only aware of so many events/happenings on any given weekend and will pull info they see from FB etc. It makes their job significantly easier if people do provide them with info. They can be contacted at:

Club Governance
Lastly, (I’m sorry, I realise this is quite a long update already) I want to let members know we are considering changing the club’s status. We are considering applying for “CASC” Community amateur support club status or applying to become a “CIO” Charitable incorporated organisation. We are looking at our risks and liabilities and trying to make steps to safeguard the future of the club.

This is quite a big decision as these decisions are non-reversible and impact our constitution, end of year accounting to name but two areas. We have sought some advice but if there are any members with expertise in this area we would welcome further input.

Last remarks
I hope this gives a flavour of what is going on behind the scenes. I’ve barely scratched the surface on some areas e.g volunteer co-ordination, the successful junior event that already happened and those about to happen, our plans to expand coaching numbers and better support coaches, new session opportunities such as  ladies rides /runs and the velodrome sessions.

Needless to say there is lots of fantastic work going on by the committee and club members and I’m sorry I’ve not done some areas justice in this update. Give me a nudge and I’ll include it next time!

I want to wish everyone a fantastic season full of PB’s and great Tri experiences. Share race reports

Don’t hesitate to get in contact on these or any other issues or if you want to get involved with the running of your club.

Yours in Sport,

Paul Skipper
Chairman, Mersey Tri