Wildflower Triathlon is one of the largest triathlon events in the world held at Lake San Antonio, about an hour away from San Luis Obispo. With thousands of eager student volunteers and competitors looking to have a good time, this event is one you must cross off your SLO Graduation Bucket List!

Wildflower has over 7,500 athletes and 30,000 spectators each year. It is one of the most difficult and well-known triathlons because of the particularly hilly and grueling courses.

In order to participate in the race participants just need to sign up online at the Tri-California Events website. Most students prefer to volunteer at the triathlon through the Cal Poly Wildflower Committee which you can also sign up for online at the Wildflower Committee website.

Brooke Felger, a member of the Wildflower Committee, says that being a part of the committee is one of the best decisions she has ever made. Through the committee she was given a lot of responsibility before and during the race.

We start planning for the next year with Tri-California as soon as the race ends,” Felger says. “There is a lot of work to do as far as getting the volunteers signed up, talking to sponsors and setting up the event.

There is so much work to do before the event but the payoff is worth it, Felger says. All my hard work and time spent is rewarded when I see how grateful the athletes are of all our help.

View of the starting platform for Wildflower at Lake San Antonio. Photo by Nina Martin.

View of the starting platform for Wildflower at Lake San Antonio. Photo by Nina Martin.

The race takes place on the first weekend of May every year, but volunteers don’t sign up until December the year before. Many Cal Poly clubs and organizations sign up and send big groups out to the lake each year.

Jillian Syftestad, a junior at Cal Poly, signed up for the Wildflower Committee with her WOW (Week of Welcome) group.

“I became really close with my WOW group so we decided to do Wildflower together,” Syftestad says. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

The best part was camping with my group, Syftestad says. It was so much fun because we got to know each other so well, as well as the other clubs camping around us.

Student volunteers camp at Beach City the weekend of the race where there is always a party, but facilities are limited so if you’re volunteering make sure you’re prepared.

Here are some things to be sure to bring:

  • lots of blankets
  • clothes for layering
  • sunscreen and shade
  • baby wipes, there are no showers
  • snacks

Participating in the race can be just as, if not more, rewarding as being a volunteer. There are three different courses offered including the Long Course, Olympic Course and Mountain Bike Course.

Competing in Wildflower is one of the highlights of my year, Matt Barksdale, a third time Wildflower athlete, says. This was my first year doing the Long Course and it was extremely difficult, but I felt so accomplished when I crossed the finish line.

Matt Barksdale crossing the finish line at Wildflower. Photo by Nina Martin.

Matt Barksdale crossing the finish line at Wildflower. Photo by Nina Martin.

“The volunteers are so encouraging and always motivated me to keep going even when I felt like giving up,” Barksdale says.

There is a reason Wildflower is such a famous triathlon. The demanding courses, determined athletes and excited volunteers make it an incredible event.

This video shows what all the hype is about!

If you haven’t signed up already you need to get on it! Cross this amazing event off your SLO Graduation Bucket List!