|August 27, 1989|
The Ironman Triathlon has suffered from a glamorizing press account from time to time of a macho meeting in a Hawaii bar where bragging about the feats of swimmers, or cyclists or runners along with pitchers of bar spawned a bet on the outcome of completeing the the Waikiki Rough Water swim, the Around Oahu Bike Race, and the Honolulu marathon. This would give rise to the distances of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike race, and finishing with a 26.2 mile marathon run.
In actuality, Commander John Collins conceived the idea from a series of events in San Diego invented by the San Diego Track Club called the Mission Bay Triathlon. This event was held first in 1974, four years before the Ironman was born. The Ironman Hawaii was first run on February 18, 1978. Eighteen people signed up, fifteen men started and twelve finished. The winner was Gordon Haller, a former Navy officer and fitness buff. Collins who first proposed the race in truth at the Oahu Perimeter Run in January of 1977, finished ninth. there was no entry fee and the prize was stick man soldered together and called the “Ironman”. In 1979, there was an entry fee of eight dollars and 50 people registered. The competitors included one woman, Lyn Lemaire that year. Tom Warren, a fanatic for endurance events beat both Gordon Haller and last year’s runner up, John Dunbar, a former Navy SEAL. After this year, trained athletes from all over the world began to compete in the Ironman, starting with Dave Scott, who showed the original competitors, that a trained triathlete can easily outperform endurance fanatics or colorful competitors, such as “The Cowman”.
My own experience in the Ironman came in Ironman Canada, in 1989, when I completed the Ironman distance in about 13 1/2 hours. I proved to myself what had been written over and over. That is, the bike either sets one up for the marathon or sets them down. In my case, it was set down as I did the bike in a creditable 5 hours and 45 minutes and took nearly the same time for the marathon!
For those of you readers who desire to know the Ironman Hawaii as it was originated get a copy of “Iron Will” by Mike Plant and expand on the brief excerpt here.