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.
As its name suggests, The Tug’s Swim-Run-Swim consisted of an ambiguously measured swim (1/3-1/2 mile, depending upon the tide), around Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, followed by a five mile run on the sand to the Mission Beach Jetty and back, with a swim back around the pier and a run to the finish to end. As the clipping suggests, the first run up the beach to beginning of the first swim was always a dogfight. (We’ll have more on both Tom and the Tug’s race in the coming months.)