Today in (Sports) History #11 - First Triathlon Ironman held (February 18, 1978)

in history •  2 years ago  (edited)

Today's historic event in Sports History was the first ever Ironman Triathlon held in Hawaii on February 18, 1978. 

One of my personal friends from my home region even finished third twice in Hawaii. Lothar Leder grew up with me in Germany in my home town, we had a lot in common but no sports wise - my best buddy was his bike mechanic. Lothar Leder is the first person to finish an Ironman distance in less than 8 hours in the year 1997. 

Lothar won the olympic distance German championship three times and took the win at the famous Ironman in Roth for five times. As said he finished third at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii two times. And he is still active being almost as old as I am.

But back to the first one in 1978 and how it got all started. 


The first "Ironman Triathlon" was held in Kailua-Kona and is still the world championship which takes place annually in Hawaii since 1978. 

The Ironman World Championship has become known for its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and Emmy Award-winning television coverage.

The idea for the original Ironman Triathlon was born after some debates by representatives of both the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club. They were discussing which athletes were more fit, runners or swimmers. On this occasion it was pointed out that a recent article in a Sports Magazine had declared that the famous Belgian cycyclist Eddy Merckx had the highest recorded oxygen uptake of any athlete ever measured. As a result a number of military athletes agreed to test who is best by a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions on Hawaii - a) the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (185.07 km) and a Marathon (42.195 km).

The first Ironman was born! All racer got the instruction and rules handwritten on a sheet of paper: "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life", which is now a registered trademark.

John Collins a Navy athlete said "Whoever finishes first, we'll call him the Iron Man." Gordon Haller who was a US Navy Communications Export was the first Ironman - he completed the race with a time of 11 hours, 46 minutes, 58 seconds. 

Sources: My own personal memories with a friend, Wikipedia and Pixabay

To see what happened in Sports History already - check the links below:

February 17: Invention of the Bike

February 16: NHL lockout

February 15: Olympic gold twice

February 14: Baseball hero

February 13: Golf Scandal

February 12: Team Canada Ice Hockey

February 11: Mike Tyson knocked out

February 10: Mark Spitz Birthday

February 9: Volleyball invented

February 8: First NFL Draft


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According to Wikipedia:

The first modern swim/bike/run event to be called a 'triathlon' was held at Mission Bay, San Diego, California on September 25, 1974.

Your title should be "First Ironman Triathlon"

This is correct! 1978 was the first Ironman - thanks for the hint, will change the title

Excellent pot dear friend @uwelang, very good information, excellent research work, congratulations, thank you very much for sharing

Thanks so much amigo for the motivating feedback! @jlufer