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

This is first part in a long interview conducted by Scott Tinley in August, 2015. Part 2 will be published at a later date.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Valerie Silk in a contemporary photograph

The Ironman was over and there was no particular place to go.

It was the fall of 1990-something and any chance this kingly race had of retaining its former innocence was left to negotiate; an already-older woman vs. The World of Commerce. The sides faced off: a bag of cash, a need-to-leave-while-she-could, and subsequent legal notices to appear. One of the greatest endurance sport events in modern history was being monetarily-transferred to something called a third party, and those of us quasi-innocent athletes lurking about the finish line of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship with a water bottle or an IV bag or an emblematic phallus courtesy of (enter related sponsor product here: soap-on-a-rope, hardened metal-man symbolic trophy with requisite arms outstretched in missionary accomplishment, et al.) In our soft naïve hands lay the quietly ambiguous procreation of this sweet and beautiful idea. Who of us had any idea that the Ironman Triathlon World Championship was entering the world of pornographic reproduction?   

Whatevahs, Brah. As long as the checks don’t bounce and the beer don’t warm

The event had been sold to somebody in Florida, an ophthalmologist, it was rumored. Perhaps he’d see things differently. Perhaps he had a mind for business and professionalism. Hell, that’s all the pros wanted …a chance to earn a few bucks for rent. Valerie Silk, owner/operator of the Ironman, was leaving the house. What may or may not exist in her wake was to be determined by those seeking purchase in the possibilities; the sugar-coated seeds sewn as Silk’s own material eggs.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The boat escort has always and already been a part of the Escape experience. In ’91 Oakes and Co. organized a traditional whaling boat to keep the swimmer safes from cargo ships and white whales. Photo courtesy of Eric Gilsenan

“If the earth has a soul and Alcatraz Island is stuck in some geographical purgatory, it would all make sense, would it not? It could pay the penance of all those who had used this place for evil by itself acting like a bridge. -- S.Tinley, from The Alcatraz Swimmer’s Manual by Joe Oakes

“One day when I die, I hope that most of what flashes before my eyes includes memories of the Tuesday Run.” -- Paul Huddle
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Left to right: Gary Peterson, Kathleen McCartney, ST, Tom Lux, Chris Miller, Ted Pulaski, Steve Fletcher, and Stan Silbert. Photo: Mike Plant

Like many things that shaped the sport of triathlon, the Tuesday Run was catalyzed mostly by accident. And a little design. Nothing but a group of like-minded endurance freaks in search of their mirror deviates…in search of speed. When that handful of San Diego-based triathletes decided sometime in the spring of 1983 to meet every Tuesday morning, it began a 20-year streak of pleasure and pain. The time was 7:30 AM. and the entry point was a public street adjacent to the private Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
cover of merged TRIATHLETE magazine

It wasn't just the sport that was trying to figure out what it was—and what it could be—in the early days. Fifth magazine iteration shown.

It was the day after the 2.4-mile Waikiki Rough Water Swim in September, 1979. I sat in the Sans Souci restaurant next to the Outrigger Canoe Club as the scent of sweet plumeria wafted through the open windows that faced the long curve of Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach. I was lunching with one of my two publishing partners, Penny Little, and enjoying the grilled Mahi Mahi and more than a few Mai Tais.