This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone,...Read More
Welcome to trihistory.com
History, it has been argued, is written by the victors. But in this case, it is being written by a few of us who were there and are willing to write it. A fool’s errand, perhaps. Surely, the question will be asked and answered: Does anyone really care? Time will tell.
Why trihistory.com? Well, why history of anything at all? Historians are driven to remember, record, interpret. It feels almost genetic. You’re either interested in the past or you’re not. It means something to you or it doesn’t. But if it does -- and particularly if it’s connected to a physical activity in which you are actively, perhaps even passionately, involved – you’re all in. We’re interested in the history of triathlon for the same reason we’re interested in the history of our families, our parents; it matters how it all came together. It matters because we are both players in the ongoing genealogical drama and products of all that has gone before.
To mark the recent 40th Anniversary of the IIonman World Triathlon Championship in Kona, Hawaii, I wanted to offer a survey of ideas and thoughts about the event I’ve penned over the past decades. But when I went through old files, most of the what I’d written was about the town of Kona and its amazing people. The reconstituted essay below first appeared in my book, Finding Triathlon: How Endurance Sports Explains the World (Hatherleigh, 2015). I believe it most accurately sums my feelings about my 20-year affair with this town, its people, and the events that brought us together. -- ST
"When the will and the imagination are in conflict, it is always the imagination that wins" -- Emile Coue'
All oral history is lost. Those cataclysmic moments when a parent or a preacher, a crook or cop pulled us aside and spoke to us of better times, of worse periods, of something or somebody or some idea that came before us, before Snapdoodle was our source of historical inspiration, are dead. Speaking in a human voice to another human being for the sake of their (and our own) humanity have gone the way of the town crier—left for the elderly and the luddite and the less-than-hip.
It was sad to hear that running great Tom Fleming died last month of a heart attack at the still-young age of 65. Fittingly, he died while coaching a track meet. If he’d had a choice, I’m sure that venue for a finale would have been among his top three picks
This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone, athletes and race promoters alike. We’ve peered into most of the corners by now; most of us understand where the dangers lie. But back in the early 1980’s bad things could jump up out the dark and bite you hard, unexpectedly, in the strangest places.
In my home office closest, gathering dust and the fur of my support staff, sits 23 years’ worth of Triathlete Magazines, 1987 to 2009. Recent life events had me staring at the carefully dated boxes. What made me start keeping the magazines and why are they still in my house?
In the history of triathlon there is perhaps no more significant race than the first U.S. Triathlon Series event on June 12, 1982 at Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego, California. It was, in retrospect, a rudimentary production, little more than a somewhat tentative proof of a wild-eyed concept born in the brain of one James M. Curl, an entrepreneurial endurance runner and non-practicing lawyer from Davis, California.