History of Triathlon

Joinville-le-Pont near the centre of Paris in the 1920s, saw the beginning of Triathlon according to Scott Tinley a Triathlon historian and author. The race was called “les trios sports”. Today this race is held every year in France with a 3km run, 12km bike and a swim across the channel Marne. There are many different races like these that were found in the 1920's which has been reported in French Newspapers etc. This recorded history has given France the status of Triathlons birthplace.

The modern Triathlon wasn't to be born until September 25th 1974 in San Diego,where 46 track participants entered a new event (triathlon) for America. It was reportedly not inspired by the French events. There is some debate over the first Triathlon is the U.S as a race the following year at Fiesta Island, California, is sometimes called 'the first triathlon in America'.

Iron Man has one of the most interesting stories in its creation. The first modern long-distance triathlon event was the Hawaii Long Distance Triathlon. It included a 2.4-mile (3.86-km; 77 lap swim, a 112-mile (180.2-km) bike ride, and a 26.2-mile (42.195-km) run.

U.S Navy Commander John Collins read in a copy of Sports Illustrated magazine had declared that Eddy Mercx, the great Belgian cyclist, had the highest recorded "maximum oxygen uptake" of any athlete ever measured!

Collins suggested a way that the debate could be settled. There would be a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions in Hawaii: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi/3.862 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles (185 km) and the Honolulu Marathan (26.219 mi/42.195 km. Prior to racing each competitor was given a Handwritten note on the last page quoting:

Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life.
-- Commander Collins, USN (1978)

With a nod to a local runner who was notorious for his demanding workouts, Collins said:

Whoever finishes first, we'll call him the Ironman.
-- Commander Collins, USN (1978)

Only 15 men raced on the 18th of February 1978. Twelve completed the race and the world's first Ironman, Gordon Haller, finishing in under 12 hours.