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Dawn of the Big Four

The first U.S. Triathlon Series event in San Diego introduced... well, pretty much everything
Saturday, February 18, 2017

Three members of the soon-to-be-Big Four fight it out in San Diego on June 12, 1982. Scott Molina (front left), Scott Tinley (front right), Dales Basescu (center) and Mark Allen

In the history of triathlon there is perhaps no more significant race than the first U.S. Triathlon Series event on June 12, 1982 at Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego, California. It was, in retrospect, a rudimentary production, little more than a somewhat tentative proof of a wild-eyed concept born in the brain of one James M. Curl, an entrepreneurial endurance runner and non-practicing lawyer from Davis, California.

Chill Factor

In the early 1980s, triathletes from Northern California shivered their way into triathlon prominence.
Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jason Cambell (left) and the author  (right) hang out with US Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy. Harper is now a law partner at Bowles & Verna LLP in Walnut Creek, Calif. He is also the head coach for the University of California/Berkeley triathon team. In his day, Dean Harper was among the top professional triathletes in the world -- about as close as you could get to being one of the Big Four without being named Scott or Mark. 

Before triathlon existed in Northern California, I raced triathlon Hall of Famer, Dave Scott, in a run-swim event.

Chaos Theory

Marc Evans had what it took to bring order and organization to the early days of triathlon training.
Sunday, January 15, 2017

Back in the day when people were still looking at triathletes as if they were gods or fools, Miranda Carfrae was still in diapers, and fig newtons and chocolate chip cookies were the multisport energy foods of choice, a young man in Walnut Creek, California decided that he had what it took to be a triathlon coach.

Triathlon's Poster Boy

The Story of BD "Big Dave" Knox and his Most Unlikely Quest
Sunday, July 3, 2016

The collection grows.  ST and Dave Knox make a trade and another poster is signed and changes hands. 

Some stories are told through pages; visual text in black and white. Other stories are orally-woven, verbal campfire chronicles that rattle and shake. And sometimes the best are too often never told in the quiet settlement of a singular person’s quest—a regular person in a regular life, denying the banality of his or her existence by asking why not? Why shouldn’t I do what compels me, what keeps me up at night, however measured or far away? I’m no hero but there is this thing that no one has done.

Finishing Touches - Ironman Great Mark Allen Sees "TO Version 2.0" in 2016

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tim O'Donnell, with about a mile to go.  He will finish in third place, wobbly, but happy, at the end. If TO and his coach Mark Allen have it right, there are more and bigger things to come. (Photo: Mike Plant/Tri-History)

By all accounts, the performance of 35-year-old American triathlete Tim O’Donnell at the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona was a breakthrough – especially so on the bike. There was a discernable note of surprise in the race-day coverage when O’Donnell went strongly to the front on the way down from the turnaround at Hawi. And in interviews after the race, O’Donnell admitted to sharing in that surprise – at least a little. Suddenly, there he was in front. What now?

A Silk Purse: How a Long, Tall, Blonde Quite Accidentally Invented Modern Endurance Sports

PART 2 of TWO INSTALLMENTS
Sunday, September 20, 2015

Valerie Silk, addressing the Ironman award ceremony (circa 1985) 

In part 1, Silk discussed how she acquired the Ironman, why and how she moved it Kona from Oahu, and the early parts of taking the race commercial. Her tale of the Feb. 1982 event where she missed the Julie Moss/Kathleen McCartney episode is the stuff of legend.

In part 2, Valerie offers additional thoughts on those seminal years, her sale to Dr. James Gills of Florida, the current sale-in-works to the Chinese multinational corporation, Dalian Wanda, and her own forgotten legacy within triathlon.

This Alcatraz: Finding Escape between a Rock and a Hard Place

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

On Any Given Tuesday, In the Morning

“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.

The Birth of Triathlete Magazine: An Insider's Story

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.

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