Founder & Triathlon Teacher

Ed Zerkle

Team Z was founded by Coach Ed Zerkle, a former collegiate swimmer and successful age-group triathlete, multiple Ironman finisher, USA Triathlon Certified Coach, and former head coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program. Ed worked for many years as a business consultant for IBM Global (via C&L, PwC) and Booz Allen Hamilton. When the opportunity was presented, Ed decided to change his focus and combine his love of triathlon and his strong business sense to build Team Z into what it is today.


Team Z was formed in the summer of 2005. After years of leading teams of all sorts of athletes in their preparation for group fundraising triathlons, twenty-three of Coach Ed’s former trainees asked him to form a team of his own. These triathletes asked Ed to coach them for an Ironman distance triathlon in the same group training environment they had become accustomed to.

At that point, the triathlon community had not figured out how to service the needs of athletes of all abilities and backgrounds in a sustainable, fun, non-intimidating and supportive environment.

 The triathlon world then was thought to be reserved only for the elite athlete, the super fit, and only for a certain demographic. Ed listened to his team members, broke with the traditional triathlon mold, and responded to the members’ requests by forming Team Z.

Since then, with his emphasis on inclusion, education, and quality training programs, Coach Ed has grown Team Z from 23 founding members to more than 200 athletes, with accomplished and positive workout leaders and coach-led training sessions each week throughout Virginia and the DC Metro area.

What is Team Z all about?

Team Z is all about having fun, building a sense of community, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. That’s not to say that we don’t take our training seriously! We believe it is important to work hard to achieve our goals and have fun spending time with our teammates along the way. We have proven time and time again that you can be a successful and serious athlete and enjoy yourself at the same time. Everyone can do it.

The reason our members can accomplish their goals with consistency is a credit to the organization and culture of our team, and that all starts with vision. To drive a community in a common direction, you need to set a common goal. Once the goal has been set, all you need to be successful is an intelligent plan to guide you, and a little bit of support along the way.

Setting the common goal

Each year our team picks out common set of goals (also known as a race calendar). The race calendar is diverse and will accommodate all abilities and backgrounds. The race calendar will include options for members to participate as individuals or as part of a relay. Members will be able to choose their own path through the year including racing Aquabike, Duathlon, or Triathlon of all distances. We even include events like open water swimming, masters swim meets, 5k’s, 10k’s, ½ marathons and marathons.

You do not ever have to do a team race. You can participate in any race you choose, even if it is not on our team’s calendar. Members will pick and choose among our options and set their own individual goals for the year and you will lean on Coach Ed for guidance. Once you have set the goal, Coach Ed will then be able to give you “the intelligent plan” that will prepare you for your event.

Developing the plan

Finalization of our annual race calendar is what drives the planning of our training, social and group training events, guest’s speakers, etc. Everything we do as a team is coordinated and planned in support of helping our members perform and achieve at those events. You will grow to expect a higher level of service when you attend a “team race” including hospitality for you and your family and friends. While attending team races is encouraged and fun, members never required to race with us and are also encouraged to participate in events that are no listed in our plan. That happens all the time.

Since Team Z “never ends”, new members are always joining the team after they have committed to different goals. That’s ok. Coach Ed will help tailor a plan for you. Maybe you’ll end up at a different race one day, but you can count on the fact that your long ride on the weekend will be at the same time and place as the rest of the team. Ed’s got your back, and he works hard to make sure that everyone feels welcome and included regardless of individual goals.

Communicating the plan

Once the race calendar is in place, Coach Ed will plan the entire year in advance. People are busy and life needs to be coordinated as much as the colors of your training gear (wink). People’s first priorities should be their family, community, and job. Training fr triathlon is supposed to be fun, not another stress in your life. Coach Ed will share the annual plan with the membership so that you can let Team Z fill the cracks.

See the calendar & start today

Come to an information session and see what it's all about!


Growing up, I was never even remotely athletic, a distinct liability in a sports-mad country. Moreover, I grew to associate the idea of people being “sporty” with people who were generally obnoxious, who loved to lord their athletic prowess over others.

Triathlon, therefore, was a revelation for me: very ordinary people who were able to achieve extraordinary things. Team Z is the essence of triathlon in that regard, an amazing mix of experienced athletes (who turned out to be quite nice people) and absolute beginners, all sharing their different journeys. The team is full of people who push me when I need to be pushed and who push me when I don’t think I want to be pushed. Because the team pushes me, I’ve become something I never would have believed I could become: an athlete.

Mark Mullen


Never say never on Team Z! I never thought I would do a triathlon let alone a half Ironman. I told anyone who would listen that the only way I would ever run another marathon was if it was in an Ironman and since I was never going to do an Ironman I had nothing to worry about. Well, so much for my “never” list. With the support of Team Z, I have raced numerous short distance triathlons, several half Ironmans, raced my best injury free marathon (I beat Oprah’s time), and signed up for an Ironman.
Regardless of your experience, speed, motivation, and goals there is a place for you on Team Z. When I joined the Team in December 2011, I did not know what to expect. My old game plan was to go as fast and as hard as possible regardless of the consequences. I do not recommend this strategy. I somehow always fell to side with an injury and burned out long before I reached the start line. This all changed when I joined Team Z. With the help of the coaches and my teammates, I am learning everyday how to find balance physically, set reachable goals, listen to my body, and enjoy the experience. I have a good friend on the Team that says that all the training and hard work is the journey. Race day is the victory lap. Gotta Love Team Z!

Kathy Hsu


In 2009 I ran the Disney Marathon with my mom, accompanying her on her first 26.2 mile adventure. I remember standing at the start next to her and saying, “just think, those Ironman people have to do this after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112”¦..freaking lunatics!.” Two years later with a couple of sprint and Olympic triathlons under my belt, and after a couple of glasses of wine, I started to wonder, “Maybe I can do an Ironman too?” So I pulled the trigger, dropped the cash, and signed up for Ironman Cozumel. This followed by immediate panic. “Oh dear God, what have I done? I haven’t the slightest clue how to train for an Ironman.” A couple months later, by chance, I ran into a Z’er outside of my work and as we started talking Triathlon, she told me about Team Z. “Why not? It can’t hurt” I thought to myself. So I joined. It didn’t take me long to realize that this team had everything I wanted: knowledgeable and supportive coaches, structured training plans for all levels and abilities, fantastic teammates, and most importantly cold beers ready for you after every race!

Scott Leary