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From the archives: Ironman arrives

22 years ago

July 16, 1999 — Lake Placid News

The history of triathlon and a great part of its fame depends on what Hawaii Ironman heroes were capable of doing mile after mile on the Kona lava fields.

Since the first event in 1978, many things have changed; now there are various distances and championships. World and European cups have been organized, and competitors are all waiting for the triathlon Olympic debut in Sidney, Australia in 2000.

Navy Cmdr. John Collins is credited with inventing the Ironman triathlon, a triple-endurance event he framed around three existing long-distance races: the Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 miles); the Around-Oahu Bike Race (112 miles), originally a two-day event; and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles).

Fifteen men participated in the first Ironman race, held on Feb. 18, 1978, and 12 managed to complete it.

The year 1999 will mark the latest significant development in the history of the Ironman, as the competition comes to mainland United States for the first time in Lake Placid on Aug. 15.