Welcome to trihistory.com

History, it has been argued, is written by the victors. But In this case, it is being written by a few of us who were there and are willing to write it. A fool’s errand, perhaps.  Surely, the question will be asked and answered: Does anyone really care? Time will tell.  

Why trihistory.com?  Well, why history of anything at all? Historians are driven to remember, record, interpret. It feels almost genetic. You’re either interested in the past or you’re not. It means something to you or it doesn’t.  But if it does -- and particularly if it’s connected to a physical activity in which you are actively, perhaps even passionately, involved – you’re all in. We’re interested in the history of triathlon for the same reason we’re interested in the history of our families, our parents; it matters how it all came together. It matters because we are both players in the ongoing genealogical drama and products of all that has gone before. 

The Latest Features

WTC CEO Andrew Messick talks with Triathlon History's Scott Tinley about Ironman's role in preserving (and making) the sport's history

Sunday, June 22, 2014
Andrew Messick

The Big Kahuna -- WTC CEO and Ironman-in-Chief Andrew Messick. "We have a responsibility to the institutional memory of the sport."  

Where does Ironman, the Corporation, stand in the area of doing triathlon's history? What role do they take as stewards of the Ironman Dream? TriHistory.com's Scott Tinley asked World Triathlon Corporation's CEO, Andrew Messick, pointed questions about WTC's role.

ST: For many Ironmen and women, their first time crossing the finish line is held up along such lines of personal history with graduations, marriage, and childbirth. What is it like having that kind of responsibility to produce events that mean so much to these athletes?

AM: It's a heavy responsibility and one that we take very seriously and always have. The best part of the organization is that everyone always by and large operationally understood how important the race experience was and is; how important that finish line is to our athletes. We've always been--anywhere in the world--remarkably good at delivering an extraordinary, life changing Ironman experience. And that, as much as anything, is responsible for the vibrancy and strength of the brand because from the very beginning—the very beginning—we've always had extraordinary people do our races and people who perceive themeselves to be average don't accept the challenge. It's almost always people who are capable and willing and driven to accept the sacrifice that are drawn to the magnitude of the challenge. Ironman has always understood that the race experience has to be fabulous because these athletes take it so seriously. A key marketing component of Ironman is having extraordinary people doing our races, going home and telling everyone they know you have to do an Ironman before you die because it's that great of an experience. The training and preparation transforms people.

The Tampa Bay Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series event in 1984 broke new ground with a format that would become a triathlon standard. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A field of some 80 pros heads to the water at the Tampa Bay USTS in 1984, and the landmark series inaugurates a new format that included wave starts and new distances. Photo courtesy of Jim Curl. 

The first triathlon wave start was staged on April 28, 1984, at the Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series season opener at Fort DeSoto Park in Tampa Bay, Fla. But the wave start concept came out of a discussion the previous season at the USTS race at Belmont Shores in Long Beach, Calif.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It was a cold December day in 1982 when Dave Epperson snapped this image of me in wetsuit #0000001. The Speedo towel was a sponsor-required prop

Robert Scott is on the phone. His voice is choppy and laced with emotion. He has something to tell me, he claims, that will change the future of triathlon. But the dramatic pauses get in the way of his telling.

"I read about the Malibu race."

Long pause.
"Must have been tough."

Long pause.

"I know how to keep you guys warm in the water."

Ripples from the Feb 1982 Ironman Triathlon & The Crawl Felt Round The World 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Julie Moss made history the hard way.  The impact on the sport of her dramatic finish was felt around the world and for many years to come.

The short and thick man in the bar keeps looking over his shoulder toward the door. He wears a tweed jacket with pressed slacks, matching, and appears to be having an intimate relationship with his cigar. The short and thick man appears to stand a bit taller than the other Kiwis who are actually bigger in this small town bar on the shores of New Zealand’s Lake Wanaka. He seems confident in a New York style. Nobody messes with him and his cigar. And I am intrigued.


The Eternal Flower

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The 32nd running of the Wildflower Triathlon Weekend unfolded in curiously sweet and organic fashion between May 2nd and 4th. As an icon in event history, Wildflower remains as unassuming as it is unique. With a West Coast drought reducing San Antonio's lake level to prehistoric lows, organizers moved the swim to the one remaining deep water locale. Swimmers then ran 2 ½ miles to the traditional T1 and benefitted with a shortened final run. Not surprisingly, athletes embraced the necessary change. Good things love water and find it where they can. At WF, you tend to check your formalisms at the gate. We're not sure who won the races. But I'm sure they were fast. Results are HERE

While overall attendance was down 10%, the Woodstockian vibe was at full volume. Few events in the sport have retained their homespun roots in the recent corporate run on multisport event ownership. If you've been to the Flower you will understand how and why. TriHistory.com is wondering how many other events have been run more than 30 years straight. Let us know. -- ST

(For a nicely done history of this classic race, check out the history section of the Wildflower website HERE)

Chronicling a Country’s Past

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Multisport Dreaming: The Foundations of Triathlon in Australia is a book just out (Write Press, QLD, AUS 2014) from Dr. Jane E. Hunt, an Assistant Professor at Bond University in Australia. But it's not just another entry into the crowded "multisport" category. Hunt has penned an historical work of some significance; a highly-researched and crisply-written chronicle of the rich events, faces, episodes, and politics that shaped triathlon in Australia. Dr. Hunt's exhaustive work will be chronicled in detail in a future TriHistory.com entry but we suggest for now that her tenacious efforts of getting the past right signal a shift in how our global sport is increasingly being approached and explored from a perspective well beyond wattage output and a coach-of-the-month milieu.
Australia's contributions to the growth and maturation of triathlon are immutable. And its colorful characters from Curl Curl's Marc Dragan to our indomitable imp, Greg Welch, to 2012 Ironman World Champion, Pete Jacobs, are just part of Hunt's detailed romp through one country's triathlon history. Limited first printing certain to sell out. Read more HERE -- ST

National Distance Running HOF Will Induct Three in July

Sunday, June 22, 2014
Tom Flemming

An exultant Tom Flemming crosses the finish line of the Jordache Marathon in Los Angeles in March 1981. The race was a precursor to the current LA Marathon, and Flemming had a day that most runners only dream about -- floating almost efforlessly for 26.2 miles and winning the race with second place far out of sight behind him.  Mike Plant photo

It's not triathlon per se, but we thought that since runners launched the sport in the first place, we should at least announce that National Distance Running Hall of Fame will induct its 12th class on July 12 at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York.

The three inductees are marathoner Tom Fleming, cross country great Fred Wilt and pioneering female marathoner, Kim Merritt. Read press release HERE

USAT Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in Chicago

Sunday, June 22, 2014
Tom Warren

Tom Warren in charge at his Tug's Tavern Run-Swim-Run event in Sept., 1979. Seven months previously, Warren had won the second "Iron Man" in Hawaii, and while his Tug's race has a place in multi-sport history, no one could have foreseen the impact of his victory in Hawaii. Mike Plant photo

The 2014 USA Triathlon Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for Thursday, June 26 at the Navy Pier Ballroom in Chicago. As previously reported here, Five individuals will be honored as the sixth induction class to the Hall (No physical "hall" yet exists, but surely that's only a matter of time): Ironman founders John & Judy Collins; Tom Warren, winner of the 1979 "Iron Man"; former pro great and serial national champ Mike Pigg; and age-grouper Sister Madonna Buder, the so-called "The Iron Nun".

For more information see the USAT press release HERE

College Spirit in Tempe

Sunday, June 22, 2014
UC San Barbara sent costumed support

The triathletes at the USAT National Collegiate Championships in Tempe, Ariz. last April were well... triathletes. It was the team spirit and spirited inter-school competition that turned a good event into a great one. The supporters from UC San Barbara put both feet in the effort -- and then some. 

USAT National Collegiate National Championship
It may seem a little odd to be talking in a historical context about the 2014 USAT National Collegiate Championships held this year on April 4-5 in Tempe, AZ. But honestly, the event was a revelation – the embodiment of what the early visionaries in this sport had mind. Or was it actually beyond what they had in mind because such a thing was pretty much impossible to even contemplate 3o years ago?

The ascension of triathlon to the Olympic stage was an exercise of patience and political mastery. No doubt in some near future we will write on these pages the story of Carl Thomas, Les McDonald and How the Olympic Triathlon Came to Be. But there was nothing political about the collegiate competition in display in Tempe in April. I'm not sure how better to put it than joy. Folks were racing hard, yes, but they were also having a heckuva lot of fun. Triathlon is not yet a varsity sport with the NCAA universe, but if anything, its current club status seems to add rather than subtract. Under the tents that bore names of more than 40 U.S colleges and universities, from West Point to USC to Texas A & M, from Cal/Berkeley to Colorado to Georgia, were triathletes of every possible level of experience and skill. There were parents on hand to cheer, and rowdy groups of students on hand to cheer louder and harder. There were team chants and team tactics. The multisport lifestyle in the context of college club competition seemed neither intense nor all-consuming. It was loud, enthusiastic, and inclusive. Most of all, it was engaging. What a way to build a sport, I thought. What a way to build a national program. – MP