Triathlon : A fast developed sport worldwide

World-wide development of the sport

Text : Giannis PSarelis- Triathlon Coach BSc, MSc, MBA, PhDc (text written on 2000)

The International Triathlon Union, which is the International Governing Sport and is affiliated to IOC and ASOIF, considers as first Triathlon the race organised in San Diego. Many Europeans have presented documents of race taking place in Europe very early in the century.

Scott Tinley says about it:”The sport of Triathlon was born on the quest for Universal cross-sport challenges. It was hatched, quite by accident, on the back of southern Callifornia’s spontaneous flair for the dramatic, far to the athletic cultural left. The significance here is that, on the pleasant shores of San Diego’s Mission Bay in 1974, there was no significance. The object was fun, the goal an athletic extension of lifestyle”.
Triathlon has become synonymous of the world cross training as it mentioned at the Time-Life publication with the title “Cross Training, ultimate fitness”: “Because it combines three endurance activities the competitive event known as the triathlon is virtually synonymous with cross training. Indeed, the increasing use of cross training by athletes and fitness enthusiasts exemplifies the growth of this varied, demanding sport, which most often combines swimming, cycling and running” (Time-Life Books Inc.)
So it doesn’t matter where exactly it was founded. It is the particular moment of time that means more.

We have tried to mention some other reasons which justified the development of Triathlon:

1.Quest for adventure

“The 20th century athlete is hungry –even famished- for adventure. Many sports enthusiasts have sampled skiing, backpacking, tennis, scuba diving, and other activities in their quest for physical and physiological self-mastery. In the youth they were regimented on the school yards and in physical education classes. Soccer, baseball, basketball, football, track and field- none supplied the answers to their athletic needs. After exploring a variety of sports from childhood or adolescence to adulthood, many athletes discover that true adventure is part of themselves, not the sports they play. That is what Triathlon promises: an adventure for the body, an exploration into vast uncharted territory of the self”.(Edwards, S.1983)
It’s interesting to mention that many Triathlon magazines also cover the so-called adventure races, such as “Eco-Challenge”, “Raid Gauloise”, where the participants compete in many disciplines such as running, mountain-biking, horse riding, canoeing, rafting and many others. These events last for many days and take place away from the civilised world in different exotic locale around the world. In 1997 when “Raid Gauloise” took place in South Africa a local person who has rent his horses to the race organisers has mentioned about the race participants : “Those ‘stupid people’ will pay for my children’s school for the next five years.

2.Discover the limits of human performance.

“How much can we do, and how far can we go? What ultimately stops the human being from being able to continue, to move, to perform at a level of adequacy? Has the event been designed that challenges our untapped potential? When will the ultimate test of human aerobic talent will be created?”(Edwards,S. 1983)

3.Having fun

Greg Welch, winner of the 1994 Ironman winner has said : “ Watching the triathlon, I was amazed to see that people were actually having fun. Up until that time, fun for me was going to an amusement park or simply sitting back with friends sharing stories over beers.”(Jonas, S.1996)

“For many people, fitness is drudgery. It’s a daily or weekly chore, something that has to be done on a regular basis, like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or paying the bill. You see it all the time in health clubs- frustrated men and women who push themselves too hard for the sole purpose of burning calories or shaving those love handles. They never look like they’re having fun, which is probably why most New Years’ fitness resolutions don’t last past the first day of spring. Exercise don’t have to be that way. Yes, exercise can be fun, especially when you have three sports to work with. Sure, you’ll have to work hard and get your heart rate up now and then, but who says it has to be drudgery?” (Mora,J.1999)

4.Help people on everyday’s life
Handle the stress
Jack Ramsay who was the Head coach for Indiana Pacers mentions that“Along with the enjoyment of the training and competition, the well being that I felt helped me to better handle the stress inherent in a professional coaching life” (Allen’s M.,1988)

Create emotions
“I’ve always enjoyed hearing an athlete talk about how sports has affected his or her life. It’s not just the statistics and the results that are important. What we remember most are those emotional moments when the underdog won or favourites fell short of that ultimate championship” (Allen,M. 1988)

Learn to deal with the unexpected
“What makes down the line events like the Ironman so difficult is that no matter how ready you are, you are, you have to deal with the unexpected. Your car might break down on the way to the final exam, or you might come down with the flu before a major presentation. That’s what they call the luck of the draw. All you can do is prepare to do the best of your ability and then roll the dice. Achieving that goal may come down to how well you deal with the adversity that comes your way” (Allen, M. 1988)

5.Outdoor activity (Close to nature)

“Triathlons give you the refreshing, invigorating feeling of swimming in a lake or ocean, cycling on roads that take you through striking countryside scenery, and running on a pristine trail or path. How else can you experience nature in three distinct ways, all in the span of a few hours or less?” (Mora,J. 1999)

6.It’s an addictive process
Many people have started Triathlon for having fun but they have found out in the process that wanted to train more. Are the endorphins which are released and make people want to train more ? Julian Jenkinson when of the most talented Long-distance Triathletes comments about it: “The problem with training is that is addictive. The more you train and the harder you train, the more endorphins (which are the body’s natural pain killers and not similar to heroin but stronger) you produce. Just like heroin, endorphins are addictive. You get hooked on them into exercise junky. the more exercise you do the more you need to satisfy yourself. “It just started with a fun aerobics class but I couldn’t say NO and ended up racing Ironman, man”. So Be careful out there or you will shortly be underdoing rehabilation therapy to return to the real world”.
And Mr.Jenkinson adds: “”No training means no endorphins which results in two things. Firstly, that lovely pain killing effect disappears and all of a sudden that little niggle that was stopping you from running too fast is now agony even when you walk. Secondly, without your daily fix of exercise you start to get nasty withdrawal symptoms. You may not realise this, but all your friends that have to put up with your bad temper certainly will. In fact if this injury lasts any longer than a few weeks, you won’t have any friends left. Fortunately, as with heroin abuse (so they tell me ), you can wear yourself of the drug. …Yes there is life outside triathlon. (Triathlete magazine, UK version –number 168).

Summary
Article Name
Triathlon
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Description
The sport of Triathlon was born on the quest for Universal cross-sport challenges. It was hatched, quite by accident, on the back of southern Callifornia's spontaneous flair for the dramatic, far to the athletic cultural left. The significance here is that, on the pleasant shores of San Diego's Mission Bay in 1974, there was no significance. The object was fun, the goal an athletic extension of lifestyle". Triathlon has become synonymous of the world cross training as it mentioned at the Time-Life publication with the title “Cross Training, ultimate fitness”: “Because it combines three endurance activities the competitive event known as the triathlon is virtually synonymous with cross training. Indeed, the increasing use of cross training by athletes and fitness enthusiasts exemplifies the growth of this varied, demanding sport, which most often combines swimming, cycling and running” (Time-Life Books Inc.)