Sunday, July 26, 2009

The original Ironman Triathlon

The idea for the original Ironman Triathlon arose during the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay (a running race for 5-person teams). Among the participants were numerous representatives of both the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club, whose members had long been debating which athletes were more fit, runners or swimmers. Ironman Triathlon was the first major competition to extend the distance to an extreme endurance event. The first Ironman Triathlon was held on February 18, 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii[1], repeated in 1979 and 1980.
On this occasion, U.S. Navy Commander John Collins pointed out that a recent article in Sports Illustrated magazine had declared that Eddy Merckx, the great Belgian cyclist, had the highest recorded "oxygen uptake" of any athlete ever measured, so perhaps cyclists were more fit than anyone. CDR Collins and his wife had taken part in the triathlons staged in 1974 and 1975 by the San Diego Track Club in and around Mission Bay, California, as well as the 1975 Optimist Sports Fiesta Triathlon in Coronado, California. A number of the other military athletes in attendance were also familiar with the San Diego races, so they understood the concept when CDR Collins suggested that the debate should be settled through a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions already on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi./185.07 km; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi./42.195 km).
Until that point, no one present had ever done the bike race; CDR Collins calculated that, by shaving 3 miles (4.8 km) off the course and riding counter-clockwise around the island, the bike leg could start at the finish of the Waikiki Rough Water and end at the Aloha Tower, the traditional start of the Honolulu Marathon. Prior to racing, each athlete received three sheets of paper listing a few rules and a course description. Handwritten on the last page was this exhortation: "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life", now a registered trademark.
With a nod to a local runner who was notorious for his demanding workouts, Collins said, "Whoever finishes first, we'll call him the Iron Man." Each of the racers had their own support crew to supply water, food and encouragement during the event. Of the fifteen men to start off in the early morning on February 18, 1978, twelve completed the race. Gordon Haller was the first to earn the title Ironman by completing the course, with a time of 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds.
With no further marketing efforts, the race gathered as many as 50 athletes in 1979. The race, however, was postponed a day because of bad weather conditions and only fifteen competitors started off the race Sunday morning. San Diego's Tom Warren won in 11 hours, 15 minutes, and 56 seconds. Lyn Lemaire, a championship cyclist from Boston, placed sixth overall and became the first "Ironwoman".
Collins planned on changing the race into a relay event to draw more participants, but Sports Illustrated's journalist Barry McDermott, in the area to cover a golf tournament, discovered the race and wrote a ten page account of it. During the following year, hundreds of curious participants contacted Collins.
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4 miles (3.86 km) swim, a 112 miles (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26 miles 385 yards, 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.
The Ironman Triathlon, or The Ironman Triathlon World Championships, or Ironman Hawaii, is both the original Ironman triathlon and the annual world championships of the event, held annually in Hawai'i since 1978, with an additional race in 1982. It was made famous by its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and television coverage.


In 1981 the competition was moved to the less urbanized Big Island by Valerie Silk and in 1982 Silk moved the race date from February to October; as a result of this change there were two Ironman Triathlon events in 1982.
A milestone in the marketing of the legend and history of the race happened in February 1982. Julie Moss, a college student competing to gather research for her exercise physiology thesis, moved toward the finish line in first place. As she came nearer to the finish line, severe fatigue and dehydration set in, falling yards away from the finish line. Although Kathleen McCartney passed her for the women’s title, Moss nevertheless crawled to the finish line. Her performance was broadcast worldwide and created the Ironman mantra that just finishing is a victory.
The sport of triathlon was added as an Olympic sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney as a shorter distance race (1,500-metre (0.93 mi) swim, 40-kilometre (25 mi) cycle, 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) run).
There have been a number of non-WTC "Ironman Distance" triathlons that have been held since the mid-1990s. The limited number of WTC-sanctioned events, and the limited number of entries available per race have combined with a growth in the sport that has created demand for these non-trademarked events. Many of them share the 2.4-mile (3.9 km), 112-mile (180 km), 26.2-mile (42.2 km) format with Ironman. Originally, many used the Ironman name. Due to aggressive trademark protection, most of these races no longer use the word "Ironman". The largest of these include the Vineman Triathlon, Silverman Triathlon and Californiaman Triathlon.
The original Ironman is held in conditions which are uniquely punishing for endurance racing: the Hawaii water is warm enough that helpfully buoyant wetsuits are not allowed; though the cycling hills have only moderate gradients they are normally crossed by strong and gusting winds; and the marathon leg of the race is usually extremely hot. Other races under the WTC aegis have their own difficulties, characteristic of their setting and season. Anyone completing one of these races within the time limit, so long as it is the prescribed distance, is entitled to call themself an Ironman (the term being gender-neutral). At one time there was no cut-off time, then a 15 hour time limit - for these events the normal time limit is now 17 hours. Some iron distance races (not sanctioned by the WTC corporation, but using the same standard distances) have different cut-off times.(takken from wikipedia.org}

4 comments: "The original Ironman Triathlon"

Neng Aia said...

thank you for this great post ;)

happy weekend :)

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Jual foredi said...

Info menarik dan boleh sekali dicoba, Makasih buat infonya dan sukses selalu.

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