Our History

Our History


The first recorded triathlon took place in San Diego, California on September 24, 1974. It was organised by the San Diego Track & Field Club as an alternative to the rigours of training on the track. The race, which took place in San Diego’s Mission Bay, consisted of a 5.3-mile run, followed by a 5-mile cycle and a 600-yard swim in the Bay.


A total of 46 athletes finished the race.


Triathlon grew rapidly from its humble beginnings in San Diego, and within a matter of years, it became one of the fastest growing sports all over the world. In 1988 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was intrigued by the sport’s meteoric growth and began discussions to include triathlon in the Olympic Games Programme.


The International Triathlon Union was founded a year later on April 1 (1989) at the first ITU Congress in Avignon, France. A total of 30 National Federations attended the first Congress and preparations were made for the sport’s first World Championships to be held in Avignon in August of 1989. At this meeting, the Olympic distance set was a 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run which led to its inaugural appearance at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.


The Commonwealth Games Organisation accepted triathlon for inclusion as a demonstration sport in the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.

Our Domestic History


The first known triathlon held in New Zealand was in January 1978 in Mission Bay, Auckland (500-yard swim, 5-mile cycle, 6-mile run).


Longer Distance events were delivered following the first Ironman event in Hawaii in mid-1978  (2.4-mile swim,  115-mile bike. 26-mile run).


The New Zealand Triathlon Association was formed in September 1984, with a modern constitution for a sport delivered via events. The purpose of the association in the early days was to:


  • Provide a centralised administration, led by a National Executive
  • Develop a two-tier club structure
  • Become a member of the NZ Olympic Committee
  • Create affiliated clubs
  • Decentralise responsibilities for communities
  • Deliver coach accreditation
  • Provide a youth pathway
  • Deliver National Championship events and a selection process
  • Sanction events
  • Create uniformity of rules
  • Manage the profile of the sport


Today’s organisation was the result of the merging of two national bodies; the New Zealand Triathlon Association and the Multisport Association of New Zealand in 1988.


Formed in 1984 and 1985 respectively, the NZTA was Auckland based, and the MANZ membership was mainly south of the Bombay Hills.