Hosts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games typically plan for the legacy that will be left after the event. But in Long Beach, California—proposed site of the triathlon competition for the 2028 Games in and around Los Angeles—USA Triathlon is establishing the sport’s legacy long before any athlete jumps into the water.
On May 22, the national governing body, in partnership with the city, announced plans for a new event, the Legacy Triathlon, a sprint-distance race for amateur/age-group athletes launching in 2019 near the proposed site for triathlon during the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With the announcement, the national governing body becomes the first to bring an event to the LA2028 footprint in the lead-up to the Games.
USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris, Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, International Triathlon Union Executive Board Member Barry Siff and 2016 U.S. Olympian Ben Kanute were in attendance at Long Beach’s Shoreline Aquatic Park to make the announcement.
“When we look at the Olympic Games and LA2028, we see that as a monumental moment for our sport and the country—and not just all sport, but specifically triathlon,” said Harris. “We just didn’t want to wait until 2028 to capitalize on that and leverage this opportunity and help impact the local community here and in L.A. and Long Beach.”
Harris noted that the first triathlon was held in Southern California in 1974, making the region the ideal location to build on the history and tradition of the sport. The name of the new event signifies the sport’s desire to build on its Olympic legacy before rather than after the Games.
In its inaugural year, the Legacy Triathlon will begin as an age-group race with a cap of 750 athletes. The race will feature a sprint-distance course with a 750-meter swim, 18.9-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. The long-term vision is to expand the event into a two-day multisport festival that will include both age-group and elite racing as well as ancillary events, community outreach initiatives and entertainment components. Harris hopes to grow and add on to the Legacy Triathlon every year, eventually inviting other national governing bodies to add their own events onto the program.
“We wanted to come out with an age-group event, which everyone can participate in, and then build it up,” Harris said. “So that way over the next 10 years this becomes the event—the bucket-list event in the world—that all age-groupers will want to do and then our elite athletes from around the world will want to come and do.”
The USA Triathlon Foundation has also committed a total of $100,000 in funding ($10,000 per year through 2028) to support local community initiatives in conjunction with the Legacy Triathlon.
“Major events like the World Championships in triathlon produce over $9 million in economic impact,” Harris said. “We see this as a great economic impact, a great social impact by investing in the local community. It really represents everything USA Triathlon represents—improving lives and making communities better.”
To conclude the morning’s press conference, U.S. elite triathletes Summer Cook and Matt McElroy participated in a demonstration of T1 and T2, the transition from bike to swim and transition from bike to run, respectively, further drumming up excitement around the new event.
The Legacy Triathlon will take place July 20, 2019. Registration is open now, and no qualification is required.