You are here


Missing in the Mist

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scott Tinley (left) and Scott Molina finish in a dead heat in the 1984 Atlanta US Triathlon Series event. 

This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone, athletes and race promoters alike. We’ve peered into most of the corners by now; most of us understand where the dangers lie. But back in the early 1980’s bad things could jump up out the dark and bite you hard, unexpectedly, in the strangest places.

Agony & Ecstasy --Julie & Kathleen Revisited

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I had the opportunity to talk with Julie Moss the other day (Feb 6, 2017 to be exact). I was working on another piece for TriHistory. “Sorry I missed your call, Mike,” Julie said. “I was doing my anniversary ride with Kathleen.”
            That would be Kathleen McCartney, Julie’s partner in triathlon legendry. And while it took me just a minute, the significance of the date finally struck: Feb 6. The Anniversary. Of course.

The Beast from the East

Sunday, October 16, 2016

There was a post in mid-October on the excellent French triathlon Facebook site, Triathlon : plongée dans l'histoire avec les légendes à bord featuring USAT Hall-of-Famer Ken Glah on a vintage cover of Triathlete magazine, and with a reference to Glah as “The Beast from The East.” 

The Soul of Triathlon, Redux

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Second Look at the Past, Present and Future of the Sport, circa 1998

In 1998 France won the World Cup and snowboarding made its debut in the Winter Olympics at Nagano, Japan. Microsoft was the most valuable company in the world, the Dow dipped below 500, and President Clinton denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky. Alistair and Jonathon Brownlee were 10 and eight years old, respectively, and Europe had fallen in love with triathlon after three German men had topped the podium in the previous year’s Ironman race in Kona.    

Way Back Then, In October

Thursday, October 22, 2015
Scott Molina at 1984 World's Toughest

Scott Molina was at the peak of his career (it was a long-lasting peak, to say the least) when he graced the cover of the October 1984 Running & Triathlon News. His win at the World Toughest Triathlon in September was the lead story in the publication that month. 

I was poking around the archives to see what happened in triathlon history around this time of year, and came across the October 1984 issue of Running & Triathlon News. Scott Molina was on the cover for having won in dominating fashion the World's Toughest Triathlon on September 8. Molina won the race by 40 minutes, over a mountainous course that suited his competitive strengths and relentless style to a T.

Jim Curl Does Geraldo

Monday, October 19, 2015

Geraldo Rivera by Berke Breathed (left) and Jim Curl (right). Apologies to Mr. Breathed

If you were around and old enough in 1986 you might remember the much-hyped television special hosted by the mustachioed exploitation journalist Geraldo Rivera, “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults”.  The two-hour special was notable in two respects: it was watched by a gargantuan, pre-cable audience of 30 million viewers; and, despite the hype, and Rivera’s prediction of mummified bodies of murder victims and untold underworld wealth, the two vaults in the basement of Chicago’s Lexington Hotel were empty.

What's In Your Closet?

Monday, December 1, 2014
Big-time Barn Find - Mint condition Specialized Allez, circa 1982. One of the very first road bikes designed for the emerging triathlon market

Big-time Barn Find - Mint condition Specialized Allez, circa 1982. One of the very first road bikes designed for the emerging triathlon market

There is a tale attached to antique car collectors that goes something like this:

"Well, I was driving through the wheat fields outside of Hastings, Nebraska on a warm spring day when I spied a familiar shape. She was inside a barn, covered in canvas and straw but the taillights gave her away and I had to stop.

'Excuse me, Sir, I hate to bother you but is that 1956 Porsche Speedster in your barn around back?'"

"Why yes it, Son. Why do you ask?"

"I've been looking for an old one to love and restore for many years. It's not for sale is it?"

The Article That Started It All

Sunday, October 26, 2014

If you've never seen it, link to the PDF is just below.  The article in the May 14, 1979 issue of "Sports Illustrated" by then golf writer writer Barry McDermott about the second "Iron Man" competition in Hawaii, riveted the attention of those inclined to such things. For every thousand people who read the story in horror over Warren's reckless disregard for the natural limits of his body, there were two or three who breathed a soft "Wow" and started training. As you will read, it is pretty hard to find a middle ground: the event was either downright wonderful or hopelessly insane. 

A Method To His Madness

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cover of the original 1985 edition of MIke Plant's "Iron Will", published in hard cover by Contemporary Books. 

Looking back at Tom Warren’s achievement at the 1979 “Iron Man," it’s hard to argue his recent induction into the USAT Hall of Fame. I was taken myself once again at the level of admiration for Warren that I heard in the words of Sport Illustrated writer Barry McDermott, when I interviewed him for my book Iron Will -- a full 10 years after the race.

Choice Cuts -- Classic Triathlon Video on the Web

Sunday, June 22, 2014

As the shadow of triathlon's history grows, we've noticed the platforms of nostalgia expanding in sync. One of the more fascinating effects of the sport's growth is the recent explosion of race coverage from the 80s and 90s uploaded to sites like YouTube and Vimeo. With a double click you can be sent back to the days of leather seats, leather hair-net helmets, and leather strapped pedals. Every week new clips exhumed from VHS, Beta, Super-8 and 16 mm film are digitized and published for our benefit. Listed below are a few of our favs.

My Back Pages: Origins of Speech in Triathlete Magazine

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the fall of 1983, Tri-Athlete magazine (later Triathlete) founder, William R. Katovsky came to Ocean Beach, California and sat at my chipped dining room table. We had coffee and Raisin Bran and considered each other like two junkyard dogs. Katovsky was a pimply-faced political Jew from Berkeley who carried a sense of entitlement under his curly black hair. His glasses were held together with a paper clip.

My Journey From Ironman To Triathlete

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What? That title is probably going to seem backwards to most of you. Actually, the title should read, "My Journey from Swimmer to Ironman to Triathlete," but more on that in a moment. In the early days of the sport, there really weren't a lot of races. So, you didn't become a triathlete by first competing in, perhaps, a sprint and then an Olympic-distance, followed by a 70.3, and then, finally, maybe after several years or more in the sport, an Ironman. No, you competed almost immediately in the Ironman. And, not just any Ironman, but the Hawaii Ironman, which was the only Ironman around.

The Original "Iron Man" Sanction Packet

The original 1978 Hawaii Iron Man (sic) event permit. It’s arguably true that without this document, the Ironman – perhaps even triathlon as an organized international sport -- might not exist today. It would be going a bit far, however, to call Mr. D.E. Parsons, Small Boats Harbor Manager in Oahu, the father of triathlon. He played an unwittingly key role, however. Wonder if he knows? 

Tugs Tavern Swim-Run-Swim

Before there was ITU, before there was Ironman, and before there was an Olympic Triathlon there was Tug’s Tavern Swim-Run-Swim. Begun in July of 1975 on the shores of San Diego’s Mission Beach, Tug’s was our world championship of multisport. “Tug” was Tom “Tug” Warren, winner of the 1979 Iron Man on Oahu and owner of Tug’s Tavern, a hangout for surfers, bikers, college ne’er-do-wells and a certain class of runners. 

Diana Nyad Interviews On The Run

Jennifer Hinshaw was in the lead on the bike at the Ricoh Ironman in May, 1983 when long-distance swimmer and ABC television commentator Diana Nyad decided it was time for an up-close-and-personal interview. Back in those days the on-camera ABC Sports talent wore distinctive yellow blazers; the camera never saw what was going on below – in this case shorts and running shoes. No one ever faulted Diana for her work ethic. Jennifer might have questioned her timing in this case, however.

Pocket Change Triathlon

Those Were The Days 

Folks paying $500 for an entry fee and riding a $15,000 bike might get a kick out of this blurb from the dim recesses of multi-sport history: the July 1980 issue of the San Diego Track Club News. This is the real thing, run on the same course as the original race four years previously, staged by the same organization. Quaint? Awesome? Depends upon your point of view.  Note the contact person.  If you don’t know him, you should.

The Strange, Sad Tale of John E. DuPont

This is a rather macabre bit of memorabilia – a piece profiling John. E. duPont from the official program for the 1982 Ft. Lauderdale Bud Light USTS. The race that year was hosted by the International Swimming Hall of Fame, an organization with a close association with duPont back in those days. duPont was the real thing in terms of being an actual (and quite wealthy) duPont, but he was a strange man and a lifelong wanna-be athlete who took a number of sports under his financial wing, including triathlon, pentathlon and amateur wrestling.