History of the Triathlon

by Nyden Kovatchev on Jul 17, 2023

History of the Triathlon

The history of triathlon dates back to the early 1970s and is believed to have originated from a combination of existing endurance sports. The sport's first official race was held in San Diego, California, and since then, triathlon has grown into a popular global sport with various competitions and distances.

Here's a brief overview of the history of triathlon:

  1. Origins: The idea of combining swimming, cycling, and running into one race is often credited to a group of athletes in San Diego, California. Among them were Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, who were members of the San Diego Track Club. In 1974, the two, along with a couple of their friends, began informal training sessions that involved swimming, biking, and running.

  2. First Triathlon: On September 25, 1974, the first official triathlon event, known as the "Mission Bay Triathlon," was organized by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan. It took place in San Diego's Mission Bay and featured a 5.3-mile run, a 5-mile bike ride, and a 600-yard swim. There were only 46 participants in this initial event.

  3. Development and Growth: Following the inaugural race, the sport of triathlon slowly gained momentum. By the late 1970s, more triathlons were organized in various parts of the United States, and the distances began to standardize. The Ironman triathlon, which features a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run, was first held in Hawaii in 1978 and played a significant role in popularizing the sport.

  4. International Recognition: Triathlon's popularity continued to grow through the 1980s, and in 1989, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in Avignon, France. The ITU served as the international governing body for the sport and helped promote its development worldwide.

  5. Inclusion in the Olympics: Triathlon was added to the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. The Olympic triathlon consists of a 1.5 km swim, a 40 km bike ride, and a 10 km run.

  6. Different Distances: Over time, various distances and formats of triathlon events emerged, catering to different skill levels and preferences. The most common triathlon distances include Sprint (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), Olympic/Standard (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run), and Ironman (3.86km swim, 180.25km bike, 42.2km run).

  7. Triathlon Today: Triathlon has become a widely recognized and competitive sport globally. It attracts participants of all ages and abilities, from recreational enthusiasts to elite athletes. Many countries have their own national triathlon federations affiliated with the ITU, which oversees and regulates the sport on an international level.

Triathlon's journey from a casual combination of disciplines in the 1970s to an Olympic sport with a thriving global community showcases its enduring appeal and challenges as a test of physical and mental endurance.

If you are a triathlete, check out our TRI Mounts to show off your accomplishments at today!

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