Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Did Triathlon originate in Hawaii?

This week’s Ironman World Championships are a symbol of the sport returning to its origins. But was triathlon “invented” in Hawaii? The answer is both “yes” and “no”.

The French Connection
The first records of organized events combining all three sports date back to the 1920’s in France. Those races carried names such as “Race for the all around athletes”. They culminated in La Rochelle where in 1934 the “Course des Trois Sports” took place and combined a 200m swim, 10km bicycle ride and 1.2km run.

Southern California
It is in San Diego, CA that the term "Triathlon" was first used. On September 25th, 1974, the San Diego Track Club organized the first “Triathlon”. A total of 46 participants took part in a 10km run, 8km bicycle ride and 460m swim.

In 1977, Eddie Merckx’s performances sparked a debate over which of the three disciplines created the best athletes. In order to settle it, Navy Commander John Collins had the idea to combine Hawaii’s three endurance events: The Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi/3.862 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles/185 km) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi/42.195 km) into ONE!

The result was the first Ironman triathlon race on February 18th, 1978, during which 12 of the 15 participants finished. The winner’s time: 11h46m. This year’s expected winning time: 8h20m? Number of participants: ~2,000!

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