Embedded in the sport of triathlon is an uneasy relationship between the independence and individualism fostered by the nature of the sport and the sporting collectivism needed to safely stage triathlons, establish accepted measures of high performance and secure government, media and Olympic recognition. This tension is highlighted in remote locations where local identities and recreational communities tend to present stronger forces in the shaping of triathlon practice than the sport's governing institutions and its rules and regulations. Katherine, a landlocked town in Australia's Northern Territory situated approximately 300 km from Darwin, offers a colourful and useful example of the divergent priorities of sporting and local recreational communities. This paper draws on interviews, newsletters, cuttings and triathlon ephemera as well as scholarship regarding sports clubs and social capital, the process of sportification, and the potential role of the natural and built environment in shaping local sporting practice. It examines the rise and fall of organized triathlon in Katherine and proposes that the rule of triathlon law gained only a temporary and tenuous hold most likely due to the strength of geo-spatially defined recreational identities and practices.