SIX WEEKS of Triathlon Heav­en­cham­pi­onship Sea­son Kicks Into High Gear

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - By Kevin Mackin­non

TheTour de France cel­e­brated its 100th an­niver­sary this year. Amer­i­can foot­ball? Its ori­gins date back to 1892. Hockey? There’s some de­bate on when and where that all started, but we do know that the Mon­treal Gazette pub­lished of­fi­cial rules for the game in 1877.

Triathlon? We’re ba­bies in the sports mix. While the first swim, bike and run event took place in San Diego in 1974, the event that is cred­ited with re­ally putting the sport on the map took place on Feb. 18, 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was the brain­storm of John and Judy Collins dur­ing an awards ban­quet in 1977 for the Waikiki Swim Club. John pro­posed com­bin­ing the Waikiki Rough­wa­ter Swim with 112-miles of the Around- Oahu Bike Race (orig­i­nally a two- day, 114-mile event) and fin­ish­ing with a 26.2-mile run on the same course as the Honolulu Marathon.

“The gun will go off at about 7 a. m., the clock will keep run­ning and who­ever fin­ishes first we’ll call the Ironman,” Collins said. There were 15 starters and 12 who fin­ished, in­clud­ing Collins, who fin­ished in just a few sec­onds over 17 hours.

Fast for­ward 35 years and you have triathlon of the 21st cen­tury. Collins’s time for that first race? Wouldn’t even get him an of­fi­cial fin­ish today – the Ironman cut off is 17 hours. Ironman might be the mar­quee event in the sport, but one could ar­gue quite eas­ily that the Olympics is the sport’s big­gest race, even though it’s only held once ev­ery four years. In just over three decades the sport has grown ex­po­nen­tially – there are triathlons of al­most ev­ery dis­tance these days in­clud­ing su­per sprints to half- Iron­mans to three- day Ul­tra­man races.

Ev­i­dence of how far the sport has come will be clear this fall over a six-week pe­riod that in­cludes four cham­pi­onship events that will draw the ab­so­lute best in the sport. It be­gins on Sept. 1 with the Hy-Vee 5150 U. S. Cham­pi­onship Elite Cup, Des Moines, Iowa which of­fers the rich­est Olympic dis­tance prize purse in the sport. The fol­low­ing week­end sees the Ironman 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship in Hen­der­son, Nev. ( just out­side Las Ve­gas). The week af­ter that fea­tures Lon­don in the spot­light again, a lit­tle over a year af­ter host­ing the Olympic games, with the In­ter­na­tional Triathlon Union ( itu) World Triathlon Grand Fi­nal (and also the itu Age Group World Cham­pi­onship). The wild six weeks of rac­ing ends with the Ironman World Cham­pi­onship in Hawaii on Oct. 12.

While the dis­tances couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent, the ties are strong. One of the fin­ish­ers of that first triathlon in 1974 was Judy Collins. Be­fore he went on to found the itu, Les McDon­ald won his age group in Kona five times. Over the in­tense month-and-ahalf of rac­ing, Lisa Nor­den will try to win both the 70.3 world ti­tle and the Hy-Vee cham­pi­onship. Greg Ben­nett will try to do the same. Tim O’Don­nell could be in the hunt for three ti­tles – Kona, Ve­gas and Des Moines. The other as­pect that ties all these events to­gether is the fact that each and ev­ery one will have a strong age group com­po­nent

For fans of the sport, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than this. Get ready for six weeks of triathlon heaven.

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