The Mecca of Triathlon

The Mecca of Triathlon

Kona, the Mecca of long distance triathlon, the birthplace of Ironman, and the venue for the Ironman World Championships, it is steeped in history. Pages full could be written about it.

Here’s an attempt to a summary:

1977 The bet was on to determine who was the best athlete; swimmers, cyclists or runners? In race directors John Collins’ words “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Bragging rights forever! Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man
1978 First Ironman takes place on O’ahu; 12 finishers out of 15 starters
1979 Race director, John Collins (see Samorin), hands the event over to Nautilus Fitness Centre / Valerie Silk. The event is featured in Sports Illustrated.
1980 ABC broadcasts the event. Dave Scott wins his first Ironman Hawaii. 100+ participants 
1982 Ironman Hawaii moves from O’ahu to The Big Island. Julie Moss collapses just before the finish line and loses first place. Images travel the world. Watch it here. It’s the start of Ironman Hawaii’s popularity. 500+ participants.
1983 A qualifier system is introduced, whereby athletes have to take part in another Ironman to qualify.
1984 Dave Scott wins 4th title and breaks 9-hour mark. 1000+ participants.
1985  Scott Tinley wins 2nd title and introduces aerobars.
New Zealand and Japan triathlons are the first qualifiers for Ironman Hawaii, outside the US.
1988 Scott Molina wins! He is the only other athlete to do so in the Tinley-Scott-Allen era Dave Scott is injured and Mark Allen punctures twice.
1989 The rivalry between Dave Scott and Mark Allen reaches new heights. They race side-by-side for much of the race, with Allen pulling away in the final two miles. Watch it here.
1990 Valerie Silk sells Ironman for $3 million to James Gills. The World Triathlon Corporation is created and the office moves to Tampa, Florida.
1992 Paula Newby-Fraser breaks 9-hour mark. Her record stands till 2009. It’s her fifth title. 
1993 Mark Allen wins his 5th consecutive title. He is still the only athlete to have won 5 consecutive titles.
1994 Greg Welch (AUS) is first non-american to win the title.
1996 Luc van Lierde sets the course record of 8:04:08 and holds it till 2011.
Paula Newby-Fraser wins her 8th title. A record that still stands to this day.
1997 The crawl! Two female athletes crawl to the line in a battle for 4th place. Watch it here
2008 Ironman is sold to Providence Equity Partner for an estimate of $50-80 million
2009 Chrissie Wellington sets new women’s course record 8:54:02
2011 Craig Alexander sets new course record: 8:03:56. It’s his 3rd title. 
2015 Ironman is sold to Wanda for an estimated $850 million, being $650 million purchase price and an estimated $200 million of Ironman’s debt. At this stage Ironman has 200 events in 27 countries.
2018 Patrick Lange is the first to break the 8-hour mark with a course record of 7:52:39
Daniela Ryf (SWI) sets women’s course record: 8:26:18. She is the first woman to break the 8h30 mark. 
2019 Jan Frodeno (GER) sets men’s course record: 7:51:13. 
2020 Ironman is sold to Advance for $730 million. While in Wanda’s hands, Ironman’s event portefolio has been expanded with marathons, cycling and mountain bike brands/events to a total of 235 events in 50 countries.

And here’s a GOAT table for the ‘bucks’:


…and the GOAT table for the ‘does’:

Find out more about MetaSport Live and the Triathlon World Tour, 6 May – 1 June 2020, here. If you wish, join us, it’s free!

Check here the other Triathlon Destinations reached by the MetaSport Live Triathlon World Tour participants and learn interesting triathlons facts.

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