There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when triathlons were a novelty and not all that many people really knew what they were. Back in that day, a smal event debuted and 86 triathletes toed the line in the midst of a bluegrass festival at Lake San Antonio, in California wine country. The year was 1983, and while organizers didn't know it then, they were launching what was to become one of the most successful triathlon franchises in history: The Wildflower Triathlon Festival.
By the mid-1980s, big-name pros were checking in to the Wildflower events. Legends like Paula Newby-Frazier, Pauld Huddle, Scot Tinley and Erin Baker all fought for the top spot at the half Ironman distance event. Amateurs got to test the challenging course alongside the pros and work to earn coveted Hawaii Ironman slots. Organizers also offered an Olympic distance event and eventually an off-road event, making the festival unique in its wide-spread appeal to a variety of endurance athletes. In 1994, Wildflower developed the designation of USAT Collegiate Championship, adding another layer of competition to the mix.