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Event details, sustainability, and Portland FAQ's

Organic, local, sustainable... and a little bit weird.

The idea of an urban triathlon arose from two observations: urban triathlons are overwhelmingly popular in U.S. cities, and no such triathlon existed in Portland. A confluence of events and circumstances in 2007 provided the impetus for such a race:

  • Renewed emphasis on the development of the riverfront as a focal point of the city.
  • Hagg Lake as the host for USA Triathlon's national championships in 2007 and 2008, focusing attention on Portland as a triathlon destination.
  • The rise in popularity of triathlon nationally, especially among women and in urban centers.
  • Annual recognition of Portland as one of the best cities in the country for cycling, running, and walking.
  • Interest in resurrecting the Willamette River as a legitimate source of pride and recreation.

The Portland Triathlon, Today

As The Portland Triathlon has grown from it's starting point in 2007, some big changes have occurred.  In 2011, Athletes Lounge purchased the triathlon from its founder, Jeff Henderson.  In 2012, The Portland Triathlon moved north to Cathedral Park, where we have room to grow, a better, faster course, and neighborhood excitement.  In 2012, the race sold out for its first time, with over 940 athletes registered. The triathlon is one of the "20 Best Triathlons in America" according to Men's Health Magazine... but we could have told you that.

Sustainable and Organic 
Large athletic events often do not consider sustainability or resource depletion when creating or producing the event. Cost is normally a primary objective, with convenience and ease of implementation a close second.

The City of Portland did not gain a reputation as a "green" city by religiously targeting bottom lines, and likewise The Portland Triathlon weighs social and environmental responsibility heavily when making decisions. This approach recognizes that triathlons are public events which require acceptance by the local population to thrive.

In all cases local providers are given preference over regional or national sources. The necessary triathlon infrastructure (swim buoys, bike racks, etc) has been created from recycled or used materials whenever possible. Participants are asked to carpool, take public transportation, or ride their bikes to the race, with incentives provided for doing so.

Local and sustainable extend to food, as well. Organic produce is used for aid stations and pre-race, and locally sourced food is served at the post-race meal. Recycling and composting are integral.

Major triathlon in the United States is becoming commoditized, with race management companies increasingly taking the place of local, independent events. With this contraction of the marketplace has come a watering down of the product, an unhealthy focus on revenue, and a deteriorating quality of race experience for the athlete.

The Portland Triathlon is produced locally by Athletes Lounge and the surrounding community. Rather than being managed by paid employees residing elsewhere, the race is directed by a diverse committee of volunteers with the following agenda:

  1. safety of participants
  2. enjoyment by participants
  3. emphasis on creativity, sustainability, and responsibility
  4. allegiance to community
  5. lasting, meaningful relationships with like-minded businesses

A safe, enjoyable triathlon is our focus. But we will go beyond that. Triathlon can be a family sport, with members from multiple generations participatingtogether.

The city of Portland has the potential to host one of the marquee triathlons in the United States, alongside events like the Boston Triathlon, Escape from Alcatraz, and The City of Philadelphia Triathlon. A dedicated community, civic pride, creative organizers, and social awareness will make this race unique and treasured.



The revolution will not be televised
We want The Portland Triathlon to live forever. Our sport requires clean air to breathe and pristine water in which to swim, welcoming communities, and happy participants. With growing awareness of our impact on this earth, The Portland Triathlon has made a commitment to produce a responsible race.

In 2007 we built this event from the ground up to include sustainability in all aspects of planning. Our environmental footprint was small, but we can always do better.

Help us with our efforts!

  • Resport certification: The Portland Triathlon has achieved Silver Certification since 2008 as a more sustainable athletic event by the Council for Responsible Sport, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 to administer a sustainability standard for athletic events. To earn this distinction, the Portland Tri met standards of environmental and social responsibility.

Strong, durable bike racks made from kiln-dried bamboo poles and surplus steel

Extensive recycling to divert trash from the landfill

Renewable solar power

Take MAX or the bus (with your bike)! 
Incentives for travel by bike or public transportation

High quality race shirts available to all participants, and cotton shirts for all volunteers


Available after race care includes chiropractic services and massage

Locally sourced and organic food and drink


Composting of all food waste, including biodegradable trash bags

Portland FAQ's


The editors of Frommer's Travel Guides named Portland one of the top 12 travel destinations in the world for 2007. Bicycling magazine named Portland America'ssecond best bicycling city in 2011.   Prevention magazine named Portland the Best Walking Town in the U.S. in November 2011.  Cooking Light ranked Portland it's number two city in the U.S. because of it's high scoring in acres of parkland per capita, the high percentage of the population in good health and regular exercisers, among other criteria. 

  • Best Place to Live in the U.S. --Men's Journal (2008)
  • Second place in "The Finest Place You'd Ever Want to Call Home" --Outside (November 2011) 
  • No. 10 Best Arts City in America --AmericanStyle (Jun 2006)
  • "America's 5th Cleanest City" --Forbes Magazine (2008)
  • "These days Portland is a wine and food town, and a serious one." --Wine Spectator(Sep 2004)

There are good reasons for the accolades. Nestled in the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland is an hour from the Oregon coast and an hour from the mountains. Outdoor enthusiasts can move from one activity to another as the seasons pass, and nearly every road has a bike lane.

We invite you to learn more about Portland at the Portland Oregon Visitor's Association website.

For additional information on the Willamette River and the positive effect of the Big Pipe Project, see:


Portland has a great selection of hotels.  A few options are:

Just down the street from Athletes Lounge, where packet pick up will be held, and an easy drive to Cathedral Park are Silver Cloud and Holiday Inn Express:


Embassy Suites - close to the Portland Airport.