The origin of triathlon

The triathlon, a multi part race that consists of three continuous endurance sports and tests the physical and mental abilities of great athletes all around the world, has an interesting history. There are many variations of a triathlon, the most common however consist of swimming, cycling and running. The distance of each of these parts varies but the principal is the same, complete the race in the least amount of time possible. Those participating are competing for fastest overall time in the race, this includes the time it takes to change or prepare between sports. Essentially, how quickly can you change out of your running shoes to your cycling cleats. While it may sound difficult thousands willingly participate all around the world. But where did this arduous sport originate?

The word itself, triathlon, comes from Greek origins, and literally means “three competitions” a fairly self-explanatory definition. Despite the word being Greek, however, the sport has its roots in Europe. It is believed that the triathlon holds its origins to France. From 1920–1930 there were multiple tri-sport events held throughout France, they were referred to as “les trois sports” or “the three sports”. They varied from running, cycling, canoeing or other sports, but all were comprised of three different sports in one race. In 1920, a race was held consisting of cycling, running and swimming, essentially the first triathlon, although not under this name, and was considered a success at the time, with similar races held thereafter.

It wasn’t until roughly 50 years later, however, that the triathlon as we now know it was first held. The first event called a triathlon was held at Mission Bay in San Diego, California on September 25, 1974. Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan created and directed this even. They were both members of the San Diego Track Club and the club sponsored the event. There were 46 participants, the event was such a success that it was held again the following year. At first, the organization of the event was weak, using car headlights to guide participants who had not finished before sun down, but as the sport gained momentum so did the rules, guidelines, and organization. More and more clubs and organizations began to hold triathlons. The sport began to grow in popularity across the nation and is now recognised as an Olympic sport!

Today there are many variations to the traditional triathlon. They vary primarily in distances. There are sprint triathlons, with shorter distances, all the way up to an Iron Man, which is considered one of the most challenging races to complete. Regardless of which triathlon you decide to participate in you will no doubt do diligent research and adequate training to ensure that you are ready for the test that lies ahead.

Triathlons are held all around the world, no longer an event for those in Southern California. Regardless of your country of residence, you can more than likely find a triathlon being organised near you.

Share this post:

Related Posts

Comments are closed.