Exact Conception Revealed
We were at the Awards ceremony for the annual Oahu Perimeter Relay of the Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club. John and I were the captains of our respective relay teams - the Waikiki Swim Club Wahines, the Pearl Harbor Naval Ahipyard Yardbirds. This was on a weeknight, Monday 14 February, one week after the relays. The benefactor-sponsor of the running events in Honolulu was the Primo Brewing Company. One benefit of Primo sponsorship was that we could hold awards ceremonies in their outdoor garden in Aiea, next to the Pearl Harbor Bicycle Path. The "Primo Brewery" location was probably the genesis of the drunks-in -a-bar story ( which then was mixed up with the downtown bars stories mentioned in the Sports Illustrated profiles of some athletes in the 1979 Iron Man).
Waikiki Swim Club Background
My view of the evening is not the same as John's. John remembers having read a Sports Illustrated article about Oxygen Uptake ( now called V02) and that the athlete who had the highest of that was Eddie Merckx, the Tour de France champion bicyclist. John was thinking bicyclists. I was thinking of the upcoming dual meet, the Run-Swim at Ala Moana lagoon, two weeks away. John and I were co-chairs of that event. At the time WSC held the trophy and it was hanging over our fireplace. It was a life ring with a running shoe hanging in the center.
[Editor's comment: "I made that trophy! Anyone know what happened to it?" Jim Cotton]
The First Triathalon: MIssion Bay, San Diego
John and I had taken up swimming and running in the fall of 1973 in Coronado, CA. By the time we moved to HI in August 1975 our family had been in the first modern triathlon, the Mission Bay Triathlon, put on by the San Diego Track Club on 25 September 1974. (Their "triathlon" was instead of their annual SDTC Run-Swim! We had skipped swim practice to be in the event. We were hooked. I liked running, biking and swimming for over an hour more than doing a swim workout for an hour.). We had talked up triathlon to our (CMA) swim coach who then started the Coronado Optimist Club Triathlon in 27 July 1975 (now the longest running annual triathlon in the world).
The Scene Moves to Honolulu
I told the USAT audience that to run and swim in Honolulu was different from the mainland. In CA we could drive somewhere not far away to attend a rum or swim of any type on any weekend. In Honolulu the athletes were also the event organizers, the volunteers, the officials. In a pool you swam your event, climbed put of the pool and timed the next heat. You might shoot the starting pistol or be the referee in an event in which you were entered. More pertinent to us was that you were expected to take charge of an event on the calendar if you were a member of the run and swim clubs. Or you could propose a demonstration event, do the work for that and hope it would become an annual event. We were not sprinters. We were a runner who swam married to a swimmer who ran. We had done some bicycling. If we did not propose a new event soon we would end up being in charge of the Run- Swim the next year. We thought a triathlon would make a fine dual meet. Would runners or swimmers do better if bicycling became the aerobic fitness tie-breaker.
Oahu's Swim Run Bike Pieces Come Together
I was in favor of using the Waikiki course for the swim, matched to a Honolulu half marathon, OR the Honolulu Marathon plus a double Rough water. I did not know what to do about the Bike leg, was thinking about a comparable distance doing 4 mile loops at Hawaii Kai. (The Primo ultramarathons and Relays weekend was coming up soon, on that Hawaii Kai loop.)There I was, talking about what to do about a bike leg in a very long triathlon, aware that dozens in Honolulu did the Waikiki and the Marathon each year and were receptive to something new.
John said the Round the Island Bike Ride route would enable us to connect all three courses if we lopped 3 miles or so from the bike course. I balked at biking over 100 miles at once, after all, this was a dual meet, to me, between runners and swimmers. John pointed out the advantage that all three legs of our proposed endurance triathlon would be off the shelf - the course, the rules, the Permits and paperwork already in place. We would link the 3 premier endurance events on the island...we made the official announcement at the annual meeting of the WSC. We added the name Iron Man to the logo to invoke the steady endurance pace of a shipyard runner whose pace we admire