The Ironman Triathlon – Such Humble Beginnings
The Hawaii Ironman grew from very humble beginnings on February 18, 1978. Really not much more than a few friends discussing who was the better athlete — a runner, a biker or a swimmer. Of 15 starters, only 12 finished
A suggestion was made that a race be invented that included all three elements. That day, an event was born that would change the landscape of sporting history.
What started as a 2.4 Waikiki rough water swim, a bike race around the island, followed by the Honolulu marathon gave birth to multi-event races that had never before existed.
Even races such as the Eco-challenge originated from that small gathering of friends. Little did they know that the race would one day move to Kona on the big island and explode into prominence in 1982 when ABC television covered the race. Television viewers were enthralled when Julie Moss collapsed in sight of Kona and then again feet from the finish line.
Who would have believed back then that the triathlon would find prominence as an olympic event that draws athletes from countries around the world.
How could they possible imagine that pros would be racing for huge prize money and that amateurs from every corner of the earth would challenge the Ironman distance, forever changing their lives for the better when they realized their dream of crossing that distant finish line.
The amazing thing is, there seems to be no end in sight. Races are filling in record time year after year as individuals from all walks of life are “Ironstruck” and hear the call of the Iron Gods drawing them to this incredible event.
If you are considering challenging the Ironman for the first time, I sincerely hope you do it. Everyone I know who has reached the Ironman finish line has seen it as a life-altering experience. There are countless Ironman race-day stories that are shared by those who have been there.
Some are satisfied to finish one race, but there are also those who return year after year to feel that special Ironman bond that can only be experienced by taking part in the frenetic, sometimes terrifying mass swim start, a long bike ride full of climbs and near-misses and harrowing downhill curves and a marathon that will test the will, spirit and courage of everyone who takes on this challenge.
All this thanks to a few friends who had an idea that turned into one of the worlds most amazing sporting events that gives the ordinary person the opportunity to accomplish something very, very special.