We are athletes committed to executing our best on race day out of respect for the competition and ourselves.
We exist to:
We accomplish these goals by adopting an attitude that we race to our highest potential with our competition not against them.
The game does not change - the first to the line still wins. When you see an athlete wearing our logo, know they are in it to give their very best and want the absolute best out of you.
As we look ahead a few weeks, the Ironman World Championships will, for the first time the women’s field will race on Thursday, October 6th. We sought to meet the magnitude of the moment and demonstrate the power of racing one's best while racing with one another.
We invite you to join us and champion the best in one another.
Vanessa Faye Foerster (IG: @vanessafayfoerster) is a friend and colleague of mine. She is a Mental Endurance Coach and a veteran triathlete. She is a Kona and 70.3 World Championship qualifier. Vanessa and I connected quickly over our mutual desire to encourage athletes to realize their fullest athletic and personal potential.
A few weeks ago, Vanessa posted the following to her IG account:
"There is a way to race with your competition and there is a way to race against your competition. It's a subtle difference, but it has the power to dramatically change how you race and your results."
When I began to reflect on Vanessa’s words, I started thinking about how accessible freedom in racing becomes when one adopts the attitude of racing with is greater than against.
On a phone call one day, I floated the idea of creating a symbol that demonstrated to other racers that I was not against them. In our conversation we thought there was something to this idea. In that call we set out to do something that we hoped would help encourage better performances from everyone racing in the women's field regardless of experience or ability level.
~ Co-Founder, Lauren Vallee
The idea behind WITH>AGAINST started way back in my collegiate rowing days. I went through a regular roller coaster of emotions fighting for a seat in the top boats. I wasn’t the strongest and usually came up short, which constantly left me feeling defeated and less than my peers. I fell into damaging comparison cycles and often felt threatened by the other women. I was competing against them for a seat in the boat, but we were racing with each other to beat the other teams.
It wasn’t until many years later when I realized the power of racing with the competition.
When I made the switch to long course triathlon, I vowed to feel different about my competition. And what it boiled down to was this: I needed to believe (to my core!) that I am whole as I am. My value does not come from results, placements, or qualifications. If someone beats me in a race, they don’t take anything from me.
This shift changed everything.
It gave me the freedom to race my best on the day, without fear of how the other women are doing. I race with so much more joy and presence than ever before. I’m inspired by a higher level of racing because it brings out my very best.
Just this year, I was a full hour behind Maggie Rusch at Ironman Tulsa and seeing her out on course inspired me to keep digging to give every last drop of what I had on the day. She achieved what I hoped to on that day, yet her race took nothing from me. I gave what I had and the fastest athlete crossed the line first.
This is who I am as an athlete. This is what I stand for.
This is also a fundamental pillar to my coaching and one of the ways I support other athletes in building mental endurance.
WITH > AGAINST is for the athlete who wants to foster a dynamic competitive spirit. It’s for any athlete who wants to feel inspired, not threatened by the level of competition.
My hope is that every athlete on every start line will join in the movement that WITH > AGAINST
At age 21, I began my adult athletic career. The return to sport occurred during my recovery from depression and an eating disorder. I naively accepted an invitation to join my roommates for a 3 mile “run”. To be fair, it was a shuffle, and a very pedestrian. Regardless, I enjoyed the physical challenge of running. I felt my body in a way I hadn’t in a long time. As a high school elite hockey player, I missed competition and feeling strong.
Eventually, I learned about triathlon and started training for a super sprint. In 2005, I did my first triathlon and fell in love with the sport. Then I heard about “Kona” - the Ironman World Championships. When I started to learn more about the event I thought to myself “I can totally do that!”.
Over the next 14 years, I would dedicate much of my life to become a world championship level athlete. I attempted to qualify for Kona 15 times.
I failed 15 times.
Then in 2019, I made a choice to retire from Ironman, satisfied with the commitment I had put into attempting this goal. I let go of the goal that had given my life structure, meaning, and my profession (coaching). In what was to be my final Ironman, I finally qualified for Kona by placing second in my group at Ironman Wisconsin.
During the 11 years of failure, I was tortured myself emotionally and psychologically. I judged near every workout. Challenging moments became catastrophes. I developed anxiety about what athletes were in my age group at any given event. I was jealous when women I had beaten head-to-head qualified for Kona before I did. Things didn’t feel fair. I unconsciously assumed a victim mentality. It was a horrible way to train and race. I lacked a lot of joy in my expression as an athlete.
It wasn’t until 2017 when I was ready to quit the sport that things started to evolve. I hired a coach who helped me feel less like a victim and more empowered. This happened over a few years, but the key to my growth was grounded in developing a strong sense of self-confidence. I started to develop conviction in my athletic abilities and believed in my training program. I also began to embrace the attitude that the outcomes in my training and racing meant nothing about my value as a person.
As I began to adopt this mentality, my racing results became better and better. The best part was I raced happier and harder than I ever have. I want other athletes to find their own sense of freedom and confidence on the race course.
I have been a high-performance coach for over a decade. I know how often athletes, particularly those who race in the women’s category, can struggle with performance anxiety, guilt relating to their personal goals, and fear of who is going to show up on race day. Part of my role as coach is to develop my athletes’ confidence through consistency, learning to regulate their emotional state, and helping reduce feelings of fear/anxiety related to raining and racing. The result is a more resilient athlete who can face whatever obstacles may arise in training and racing.
Personally, as an athlete, I want my competition to show up on race day healthy, motivated, and ready to tear up the course. It is from a place of sincere self-confidence that I can have this attitude. As I mentioned above, this wasn’t always the case for me but the joy I race with now is something I want more athletes to be able to experience.
With > Against welcomes all athletes of any level to adopt our attitude.
Email us! Share your own story about how racing with your competition has helped you in sport.
Special Kona Gear & Free Tattoos for the World Champs
To commemorate our the launch of this project we've designed a special Kona logo for a limited run of white trucker hats, women's tank tops, and unisex tees.
We will also have free temporary tattoos anyone can pick up race week at the Ironman Expo (we will update exact location here soon).
If you'd like to purchase a hat, tank, or tee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Orders will be filled first come, first served.
*Tank and tee are white (logo will not have white background printed on shirt. We are athletes, not graphic designers)