Get to know more about Mike Plant, the triathlon's first reporter. Check out Mike Plant: The Hero of Triathlons for details on how he got started.
Mike and Cathy
Mike Plant met his wife of 33 years, Cathy, through triathlons. She worked in public relations and advertising; they met while Cathy was trying to buy ad space in his newsletter. Instead of taking her offer, he told her "Before the race is when you buy ads. After the race, it's a story and I write it." Despite being initially put off by his honest attitude, Cathy grew to appreciate how truthful he was.
She wasn’t the only one to think of him that way—Mike had somewhat of a reputation for rubbing people the wrong way. In triathlon’s early days, back when races were timed by hand with stopwatches, he published the Plant Report. It was a subscription-only insider newsletter that became controversial for its factual writing. Plant was a thorn in the sides of those looking to make a quick buck off a budding sport. But his honesty helped give the triathlon its lasting credibility in the athletic world.
One of the biggest examples of Mike's kindness is represented in the four years he announced for the Ironman. The official cutoff is for the race is at midnight, but he stayed until all the runners had crossed the finish line—even past two in the morning. If he got word that someone was just a mile down the road, he stayed to support every finishing athlete.
The Everyday Athlete
Why wait for the stragglers? Mike was not a man who was only interested in big-name athletes. He was intrigued by the everyday athletes, the ones who signed up for triathlons without knowing what they were getting themselves into. According to Cathy, his fascination with triathlons stemmed from what the human body is capable of. Naturally, he’d be just as interested in “regular” people who wanted to push beyond their limits.
And what better way to discover your limits than races like the Ironman? Crossing the finish line of this 140.6-mile race is as much a test of mind as it is of body.
Mike wasn’t only a news reporter—he was an everyday athlete himself. He competed in the Kona Ironman race one year and even wrote a book called Iron Will. It both describes the race’s challenges firsthand and the chronicles of its beginnings. The founder of the Ironman, John Collins, wrote “I have seen many attempts to get the story down on paper. Mike gets it better than anyone else…” in a review nearly 20 years ago. Buy his book and experience Kona for yourself.
Mike Plant's Legacy
Sadly, Mike Plant passed away due to lymphocytic leukemia on May 5, 2019. He is survived by his wife and two daughters. He may no longer with us, but his impact lives on.
Though he retired from racing triathlons when he and his wife had kids, Mike remained a dedicated swimmer and runner and maintained his fitness every day. He continued to report local triathlons and wrote numerous articles highlighting the people he found fascinating. Later on he created MPA Graphics, which does graphic design for various athletic events.
Cathy got involved in triathlons in 2017, and continues to compete in sprints (the shortest distance) currently. Though she and her husband never trained together, back in the early days they called newspapers to report triathlons and get them to print their stories. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were helping create the sport of triathlon.
Mike Plant is no longer be with us, but thanks to the legacy he left behind, his presence is everywhere in the world of triathlon.