Triton 5K

Chancellor Robert Dynes (center) at the start of the Chancellor’s Challenge Run/Walks for Scholars in 2004.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Triton 5K, a tradition that dates back to 1996, when UC San Diego’s sixth chancellor, Robert C. Dynes, challenged the campus community to step out of the labs, dorm rooms and lecture halls and be a part of something greater than themselves. “I thought it was time for people to meet each other,” says Dynes. “For freshmen to become part of the campus and faculty and students to connect outside of the classroom.”

An avid runner, Dynes was thrilled when several hundred students accepted what soon became known as the Chancellor’s Challenge Run/Walk for Scholars. Back then, friendly wagers of car washes were exchanged between Dynes and the AS President, until Joe Leventhal ’99 upped the ante, betting a campuswide BBQ he could beat Dynes’ time—to date, he’s the only AS president who has.

“For him to run alongside us and finish, all of us sweaty and tired together, it really humanized him for the students,” says Leventhal. “You could tell he was starting a tradition which the student body yearned for.”

That tradition soon found additional purpose—Dynes had the idea to pledge $25 toward student scholarships for every runner who bested his race time. “Students who would pass me in the eucalyptus grove started saying ‘cha-ching’ every time,” says Dynes. “It was great fun.”

Alumnus Sheldon Engelhorn ’70 with Chancellors Marye Anne Fox and Robert Dynes in 2008.

Now 79, Dynes doesn’t run like he used to, but all those who’ve participated in the 5K since have helped raise more than $4 million over the years, benefiting more than 1,000 students at UC San Diego. That kind of support is a priority for current Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, who served as this year’s Triton 5K Grand Marshal. “Undergraduate scholarship support is critical to helping develop current and future generations of Triton changemakers,” he says.

Along with evolving purpose, technology has made its mark as well. Today, Tritons race and raise funds from anywhere in the world with the Virtual Triton 5K. This year, 64 virtual teams plus 1,234 individual runners, walkers and the first-ever swimmer from 14 countries raised $82,473 for student scholarships.


Have you run the 5K or its forebears? Let us know at