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Kelly Smith: Founder of The Black Tri Tribe, UK's First Triathlon Club for Black People

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Kelly Smith is a trailblazer in the UK triathlon community, known for her pioneering work as the founder of The Black Tri Tribe (BTT), the first triathlon club specifically for Black people in the UK. On this episode of the Tough Girl Podcast, Kelly shares her inspiring journey from a private triathlon enthusiast to a public advocate for inclusivity in sports.

Kelly's initial foray into triathlons was a personal endeavour, but her passion for the sport soon evolved into a mission to break down barriers and create a supportive community for Black athletes. She first spoke about her experiences on the Tough Girl Podcast on February 24th, 2022, detailing the challenges she faced and the pivotal moments that led to the creation of BTT.

In September 2022, Kelly officially launched The Black Tri Tribe, starting with a survey to understand the needs and barriers within the triathlon community. The feedback highlighted a recurring theme: the need for greater inclusion. BTT was born as a community organisation dedicated to addressing these issues, organising events, and fostering a welcoming environment for its members.

Throughout the episode, Kelly discusses the highs and lows of running BTT while working a full-time job, including the expansion of the club from Brighton and London to Birmingham. She shares insights from hosting panel discussions on diversifying triathlon, and the importance of community support in maintaining motivation when things get tough.

Kelly's commitment to BTT goes beyond organising events; it's about creating a space where Black people and People of Colour feel welcomed and supported in the outdoors. Despite the challenges and the risk of burnout, her dedication remains unwavering, driven by the belief in the power of community and the importance of inclusivity in sports.

Tune in to hear Kelly Smith's story, her vision for BTT, and her advice for anyone considering taking up triathlons: "Why you should ‘Try a Ting’.”

Join us as we celebrate the journey of a remarkable woman making a significant impact in the world of triathlon.


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Show notes

  • Who is Kelly Smith

  • Being the founder of The Black Tri Tribe (BTT)

  • First speaking to Kelly on the Tough Girl Podcast - Feb 24th 2022 - Kelly Smith - On the Go - Being passionate about the outdoors. 

  • Keep her triathlons private 

  • Spending a year doing different things, from swimming to SUPs 

  • Being asked about her triathlons 

  • Signing up for a local triathlon event 

  • Starting the BTT in September 2022

  • Starting with a survey to find out what was missing 

  • Living in an echo chamber via social media 

  • Figuring out what were the barriers were 

  • Having - inclusion come up over and over again

  • Why the BTT is a community organisation

  • Putting on events

  • The next steps in building the BTT

  • Starting with the social media

  • Being receptive to feedback 

  • Finding out the distances that people want to do 

  • What is realistic?

  • Is a sprint triathlon entry level?

  • The BTT special

  • Not enjoying running 

  • Why can’t tri including walking

  • Spending a year figuring out her life

  • Not being very good at admin

  • Not asking for help

  • Getting a committee together - June 2023

  • Getting admin help November 2023

  • Expanding from Brighton and London to Birmingham 

  • People didn’t know where to get gear from 

  • People needing support from their community 

  • Hosting panel discussion - on how to diversify the sport of triathlon

  • Working a full time job and running BTT

  • Not sleeping and feeling close to burn out

  • Making thing happen - takes hard work and consistency

  • Not being able to train 

  • Not having life - BTT has become her life 

  • Having bills to pay and funding the BTT

  • The opportunity cost 

  • How long can Kelly do this for 

  • Getting burnout by social interaction and not by the work

  • The quiet year

  • Why don’t Black people go into the outdoors?

  • Gaining a variety of new qualifications 

  • Not expecting it to be so difficult 

  • Maintaining motivation levels when things aren’t going to plan

  • Being supported by her community

  • Women supporting women

  • The power of having other people believing in you

  • Why things can just take time

  • Sue - member of the BTT - her story and doing a BTT Special Triathlon 

  • Future plans for the next 6 months

  • Ebony Hikers Walks 

  • Triathlon 7th June 2025 - tickets are available now

  • Why the triathlon is for everyone

  • Why the training session are for Black people and People of Colour only

  • Aiming to be as inclusive as possible 

  • The minority within the minority 

  • Why the day of the triathlon is a celebration 

  • Why we are the most connected and most disconnected we’ve ever been

  • How to connect with Kelly

  • How the events have grown over the years

  • Final words of advice 

  • Why you should ‘Try a Ting’ 


Social Media

The Black Tri Tribe - Community organisation. The first triathlon club for Black People in the UK.


Facebook: @blacktritribe


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