All About The Ironman
The word Ironman, was conceived as a tribute to the athlete who finished first in the inaugural event of the Hawaii Triathlon in Oahu, in 1978.
The exact words of Commander John Collins, of the US Navy Seals, at the unveiling of the triathlon event at the awards banquet of Waikiki Swim Club for the winners of the Oahu Perimeter Relay in 1977 were, “The gun will go off about 7:00 am, the clock will keep running and whoever finishes first we’ll call the Ironman.”
From then on, there’s no stopping the popularity of the Ironman – it has conquered the world and it sets the standard and benchmark for all extreme endurance sports.
Collins conceptualized the event by proposing the merging of three existing endurance sports in Hawaii, into a single event – the 2.40 miles Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 112 miles Around Oahu Bike Race, and the 26.20 miles Honolulu Marathon.
The First Ironman Triathlon
The first Ironman Triathlon was held on February 18, 1978 in Oahu, Hawaii with 15 competitors, that included Collins, aiming to finish the entire course. The rules of the event as well as the descriptions of the courses were contained in a three-page set of papers handed to the participants before the start of the race. The encouragement written on page three: “Swim 2.40 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.20 miles! Brag for the rest of your life! – is now officially registered as a trademark of the Ironman.
From the 15 who started the race, Collins and the 11 other participants successfully finished the whole event. Gordon Haller, Communications Specialist of the US Navy, earned the title First Ironman by clocking the best time: 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds. Collins clocked in approximately over 17 hours.
The Ironman Triathlon Race Course
The Ironman Triathlon was held in Oahu, Hawaii from 1978 to 1989. In 1981, event organizers headed by Valerie Silk, decided to move it to the Big Island, a less dense area. From then on, the Hawaii Triathlon participants have to face the challenges of the harsh and barren lava fields of the Kona Coast.
The Ironman 2.40 Miles Swim Course – the swim course is a mile long, and 100 yards in width and shaped like elongated rectangle. The temperature of the water usually registers 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Surfs are not usual on the course, but athletes may chance upon small swells that are parallel to the swim course. The currents vary, but more often weak, as athletes move across from the starting point at east side of the Kailua Pier, then to the south part and back to finish the course.
The Ironman 112 Miles Bike Course – the athletes, upon finishing the swim course go straight to the first transition area located at the Kailua Pier to prepare for the next event. The bike course takes on upside trek of Palani Road going to the Kuakini highway and then follows the rest of the course until they reach the finish line and head to the second transition area. The rolling terrain for the bike ride is dotted with about a quarter to a mile of hills. First aid stations are strategically located, the first can be found 15.2 miles from the starting point, and the rest set-up seven miles after.
The Ironman 26.20 Miles Run Course
The marathon starts with the athletes exiting the second transition area and travel toward Palani Road then to Kuakini Highway and through Hualalai Road. Checkpoints are installed to ensure that participants will be on the right course until they reach the end of the final course, the finish line at long last. First aid stations are located at a mile interval throughout the course of the marathon.
Since 1982, the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon is held annually in the month of October. It was originally done in February from 1978 to 1981. The only time that two Ironman Triathlon events were held in the same calendar year was in 1982, as a result of the transition period of moving the date from February to October.
Finishing the triathlon is a goal of many endurance sports athletes. With the introduction of the Ironman Legacy and the Ironman Lottery, more and more athletes are now realizing their life-long dream.