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Mike Plant


Author, photographer, journalist, and entrepreneur, Mike Plant has been a professional marketer and communicator for more than 40 years, with a career in multisport that spans almost the entire lifespan of the industry. As co-founding publisher of the San Diego-based Running News in the late 1970’s, he was arguably the first journalist anywhere to cover triathlon as a bona fide sport in its own right. During the 1980’s and 90’s his photographs and feature articles appeared in numerous national publications, including Runner’s World, Ultrasport, Outside, Elle, Women’s Sports & Fitness and many others. His feature article about the October, 1982 Ironman in Kona was the cover story of the inaugural edition of Triathlete (now Triathlon).  During the 1980’s, Mike served as writer, segment producer and on-air color commentator for endurance sports television productions by NBC, CBS, ESPN and numerous local network affiliates across the U.S.  His book “Iron Will” is widely acknowledged as a definitive history of the early days of the Hawaii Ironman. He also co-authored with Scott Tinley “Scott Tinley’s Winning Triathlon.” 

Mike was the finish line announcer/emcee at the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona for four years, from 1987-1990. He and his wife Cathy spearheaded marketing and public relations for the Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series through most of the 1980’s. The couple played a leading role in educating the mainstream sports media about the still-emerging sport. 

A lifelong athlete and fitness enthusiast, Mike was a three-sport varsity athlete in high school and a scholarship springboard diver at the University of Nebraska.  He placed third at the National Masters Age Group Diving Championships in 1996, and finished the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in 1983. 

Mike is currently president and CEO of Mike Plant & Associates Inc., dba MPA Event Graphics, a leading supplier of large-format promotional signage (tents, banners, flags, table covers, inflatables, vehicle graphics, etc.) to promotional agencies, corporations, events and organizations. 

Recent Articles

A Method To His Madness

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cover of the original 1985 edition of MIke Plant's "Iron Will", published in hard cover by Contemporary Books. 

Looking back at Tom Warren’s achievement at the 1979 “Iron Man," it’s hard to argue his recent induction into the USAT Hall of Fame. I was taken myself once again at the level of admiration for Warren that I heard in the words of Sport Illustrated writer Barry McDermott, when I interviewed him for my book Iron Will -- a full 10 years after the race.

College Spirit in Tempe

Sunday, June 22, 2014
UC San Barbara sent costumed support

The triathletes at the USAT National Collegiate Championships in Tempe, Ariz. last April were well... triathletes. It was the team spirit and spirited inter-school competition that turned a good event into a great one. The supporters from UC San Barbara put both feet in the effort -- and then some. 

USAT National Collegiate National Championship
It may seem a little odd to be talking in a historical context about the 2014 USAT National Collegiate Championships held this year on April 4-5 in Tempe, AZ. But honestly, the event was a revelation – the embodiment of what the early visionaries in this sport had mind. Or was it actually beyond what they had in mind because such a thing was pretty much impossible to even contemplate 3o years ago?

The ascension of triathlon to the Olympic stage was an exercise of patience and political mastery. No doubt in some near future we will write on these pages the story of Carl Thomas, Les McDonald and How the Olympic Triathlon Came to Be. But there was nothing political about the collegiate competition in display in Tempe in April. I'm not sure how better to put it than joy. Folks were racing hard, yes, but they were also having a heckuva lot of fun. Triathlon is not yet a varsity sport with the NCAA universe, but if anything, its current club status seems to add rather than subtract. Under the tents that bore names of more than 40 U.S colleges and universities, from West Point to USC to Texas A & M, from Cal/Berkeley to Colorado to Georgia, were triathletes of every possible level of experience and skill. There were parents on hand to cheer, and rowdy groups of students on hand to cheer louder and harder. There were team chants and team tactics. The multisport lifestyle in the context of college club competition seemed neither intense nor all-consuming. It was loud, enthusiastic, and inclusive. Most of all, it was engaging. What a way to build a sport, I thought. What a way to build a national program. – MP

Tunnel Vision

Monday, January 13, 2014

He had only been a triathlete for a little more than a year, but by 1983 the legend of Mark Allen had already begun to emerge. He was known by his JDavid teammates as “The Grip,” short for “The Grip of Death,” a reference to what it felt like to train with the guy when he was having a good day and you were having… well, a good day too. But as hard as he drove his training partners, he pushed himself even harder, exploring his own physical limitations with intellectual fervor.