Sunday, January 8, 2012

Team in Training is Not a Scam

I've been amazed about all of the comments I've read about Team in Training on various athletic message boards, including many that TNT is a scam. We've been slammed by a lot of people for all kinds of things. Some of these things undoubtedly have happened, although I am convinced they are not the norm. Other things clearly make no sense. Still others need some analysis and evaluation. So that is what I've decided to do in a series of blog posts over the next couple of weeks about these charges and issues.

Full disclosure: I've done TNT five times, all on foot - two walking marathons, one mostly walking marathon with some running, and two half-marathons where I ran about 70% of the time. I've volunteered as a TNT mentor several times. I've done other volunteer work for LLS: manning a booth at running expos, making phone calls to tell people about TNT information meetings, volunteering for First Connection, and cheering at races. I've never been paid a dime. I did get some of my travel expenses paid for the five events that I did for TNT. I'll discuss this in detail in a later post. But clearly, I believe in LLS and its mission, and in its major fundraising program, Team in Training.

After reading lots of message posts, here are the major complaints that people seem to make about Team in Training. Each of these will eventually become a separate blog post, and after I write the post, I will change the text here to a link to that post.

1. TNT drives up the costs of race entries and hotels for everyone else. I think this is totally untrue, and illogical.

2. TNT prevents more deserving runners from entering the race because they fill the races up five months early. This is another charge that makes no sense to me.

3. TNT ruins the experience for real runners and triathletes. I think this is bogus, but agree that TNT participants - and everyone else - need to be aware of race etiquette. There also seems to be a lot of resentment among "real runners" that "slow runners" participate in races.

4. TNT is a cult, and disdainful of other athletes. I previously wrote a tongue in cheek post about TNT not being a cult. To a non-runner, any group of runners may appear cultish.

5. TNT participants don't care about the mission but are just trying to get a free trip. This does not match my observations at all.

6. TNT participants are not dedicated to doing the race. In the events, they usually just coast and even cut the course or even just take a bus near the end. Sorry - not from what I have seen. Not at all.

7. The fundraising scams people - most of it goes to the trip and LLS overhead, and the runners don't follow-through. This is not true at all.

8. The fundraising would be okay if they did local races and not the destination events. Although doing local events with minimal travel is not a bad concept, I will show how LLS can get more money for its mission when people choose the destination events.

9. The fundraising is not efficient. There are many ways for charities to raise money. Many of them are very annoying to the potential donors. I think that TNT is fairly efficient, and no where near as annoying as getting unsolicited calls at dinner time.

10. The fundraising is dishonest, or at the least misleading. I read some misplaced and some thoughtful criticisms of TNT participants in this area, and will discuss these along with my own thinking. Plus, what does running have to do with curing cancer anyway?

11. TNT participants are mostly tubby people who are not serious about running, are sold a bill of goods, and have no business being out there. They cheapen the marathon experience. Definitely, I can't wait to address this one!

12. A lot of potential participants are not comfortable doing the fundraising, and when they do, they get pressure from LLS staff to keep raising money. This is one that I think needs some analysis and discussion.


Kathy Long said...

So happy I landed on your blog, and as an SEO, so happy to see it number one in Google for "Is Team in Training" a scam. Good job!

Thank you so much for addressing this. I'm involved in TNT for the first time this year as a cyclist, and I can't say enough good things about the organization or the people.

I think those that complain should look at the numbers. Sure, TNT, has to go to some lengths to bring in the money, such as pay staff or require minimums of their participants, but it works!

Isn't getting money for medical research what this is about!

Complainers should ask blood cancer patients what they think of LLS. They may change their tune.

Racn4acure said...

That is cool that my post made it to the top of a Google search. I got tired of seeing negative comments, most totally off base, but a few thoughtful ones. I decided to write from my own experience about these topics.

As you say, every organization has expenses. It is ridiculous to say that LLS's are out of line. I may question their high management pay but most people earn a very modest living, and clearly the mission is a good one. As I blood cancer survivor, I believe in it. Art