History of Triathlons

As I mentioned before, I’m training for a triathlon in October. I found some interesting stuff on triathlons that I wanted to share.

What is a triathlon?

  • A triathlon is an athletic event consisting of swimming, cycling and running over various distances. Events are placed back-to-back in immediate sequence and a competitor’s official time includes necessary for changing clothes and shoes.
  • The origin of Triathlon is anecdotally attributed to a race in France during the 1920-1930s that was called “Les trois sports”
  • Directed and conceived by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, the first Mission Bay Triathlon was held on September 25th 1974 and welcomed 46 athletes. This date is celebrated as the day modern triathlon began.
  • The first modern long-distance triathlon event (2.4-mile / 3.86-kilometer) swim, 112 mi (180.2 km) bike ride, and a 26.2 mi (42.2 km) run) was the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon. Of the fifteen men to start off on February 18th, 1978, twelve completed the race. The world’s first Ironman, Gordon Haller, completed in 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds.
  • The International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in 1989 as the international governing body of the sport
  • The sport made its debut on the Olympic program at the Sydney Games in 2000 over the Olympic Distance (1500 m swim – 40 km bike – 10 km run).
  • The history of the sport is documented in Scott Tinley’s book, Triathlon: A Personal History (Velo Press, 2002)
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