Ultimate World Tri For Gender Equality

Support Rob Lea on his Ultimate World Tri as he spreads a message of gender equality

My name is Rob Lea and I am a Park City, UT-based realtor, triathlete and mountaineer. In 2012, I was the age group world champion Half-Ironman, but due to a series of knee and ankle injuries, I’m unable to continue competing.

After my most recent ankle surgery, I made a new goal: to swim the English channel. As I researched this challenge, I read that it was described as the “Everest” of swimming. I decided to see if anyone had climbed Everest and swum the English Channel. A few people had, but never in the same year. A lightbulb went off in my head. As a triathlete at heart, I couldn’t help but add a bike leg to the adventure that was taking shape.  I had always wanted to ride across America so the decision was easy. This is how the “Ultimate World Triathlon” was born.

I will swim across the English Channel, bike across America, and climb Everest within a six-month period during 2019. I will to use my social platforms to raise awareness of the gender inequality that exists today and encourage the empowerment of women globally. 

In 2014, I met my now-fiancé, Caroline Gleich, and we fell in love over a shared connection in the mountains. Being her partner while she completed multiple ski mountaineering projects made me more aware of the implicit bias she and other women in leadership positions face every day. For example; when I started backcountry skiing and mountaineering with Caroline, too many of those we passed on the skin track assumed I was guiding her.  Many times, it was the other way around!

It also made me realize that it’s not only a woman’s job to advocate for gender equality. I learned of the HeForShe movement.  “HeForShe is a solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality, initiated by UN. Its goal is to achieve equality by encouraging all genders to partake as agents of change and take action against negative stereotypes and behaviors.” Only 11% of those who stand on the summit of Everest are female. But those types of stats transcend into everyday life. Only 5% of Fortune 500 companies have a woman CEO.  It’s time to change that.

My Ultimate World Triathlon will start with the #ClimbForEquality on Everest.  We will dedicate our climb to invite thousands of people of all genders to commit to promoting women’s leadership in the mountains and beyond. We don’t want women to just show up, we want to see them on the the top of the peaks, leading their communities and on the top of their professions.

My major ask here is for people to join me in taking the pledge to promote women’s leadership–whether that’s in mountain environments or in their local communities or in their professions.  Use the hashtag #ClimbForEquality so we can do this in solidarity.

Beyond that, any donation, big or small, will help me further this message and achieve my goal of the Ultimate World Triathlon.  This is an expensive endeavor, but it's also a life dream of mine. I wasn't sure about doing a GoFundMe, but so many kind friends, family and colleagues have asked if they can support me in a financial way, so here I am.  Everest stands at 29,029 ft which is where I came up with my goal amount.   This project will cost in the 6 figures, so whether I reach my goal or not, every donation and dollar will help.  I'm extremely thankful you've even gotten this far.  If a financial donation is not in the cards, I can use all the emotional support I can get.  And take the pledge to support women at the top!  That doesn't cost a penny.

Once we’ve completed the initial phase of the #ClimbForEquality, I’ll continue to share the message of equality across my social platforms as I swim across the English Channel and bike across America as we continue to #TriForEquality.

The Ultimate World Tri creates the platform to promote this message, but it won’t stop once I complete the triathlon. Conversations about gender equality need to continue long after I’ve climbed, swum, and cycled.

As a thank you for believing in and supporting this message, I’m offering incentives of those who choose to be involved:

$50: Personalized social media shout-out
$100: Prayer flags from Tibet
$500: Have your name on a banner that will go with us to the summit of Everest
$1000: Everest photo.

All of the incentives are cumulative so if you pledge $1000, you’ll receive a social media shout-out, prayer flags, name on the banner, and an Everest photo.

We hope you can join us as we #ClimbForEquality.  Please use the hashtag in solidarity to help grow the movement and start the conversations.

I’d also invite you visit our social media toolkit to find ways to join the cause!... https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MOAryAJOknkUCcFJgDn0CuVQ8WRE3qOkpnnkpZWGHag/edit

Donations (0)

  • Jill Early 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Jim Berger  
    • $25 
    • 1 mo
  • Barbara McFadden 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • John Bergeleen 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
  • Catherine Aird 
    • $20 
    • 3 mos


Rob Lea 
Park City, UT
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