Tri Sport Epping are to pay tribute to the organisers and participants of the very first triathlon held at Mission Bay California in 1974. As part of their club series of races they’ll be replicating the original event organised by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan and sponsored by The San Diego Track Club.
The race, which takes place on April 18th, will take on the multi-leg format starting with a run and finishing with 2 x 250 yard swims, which was the distance across the bay and back. In order to try and get a feel for what the pioneers of the sport experienced on that day, no modern day aids like aero bars or clipless pedals will be allowed.
Writing of that event, Jack Johnstone says, “Reflecting now on that first event years ago, I marvel that we were able to draw such an impressive field under the circumstances. These were not triathletes. There was no such thing at the time. None were into cross-training, a term not yet coined. Most didn’t own racing bikes and some were marginal swimmers at best. Yet they had the adventuresome spirit to come out after a hard day’s work and with only two weeks notice to participate in a new athletic event.
“Few of the names listed in the results will be familiar to today’s triathletes, but if it weren’t for them, the new sport may have died on the cloudy evening on Mission Bay. One name that almost any triathlete will recognize, however, is listed in thirty fifth place. John Collins, who four years later would found the Ironman event, which brought international attention to the new sport, had just completed his first triathlon.
TriSport Epping contacted Jack Johnstone to tell him about the event and as well as sending his best wishes and good luck, he also sent club newsletters from 1974/75 complete with pictures that give a fascinating insight into what was the birth of triathlon.
To find out more about the history of this race and see the exclusive San Diego Track Club newsletters donated by Jack Johnstone, including the original one from 1974 advertising the first ever triathlon, visit http://www.trisportepping.co.uk/.