1999 Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductees
Last year Triathlete Magazine formed the Triathlon Hall of Fame which, as opposed to Ironman's Hall of Fame, seeks to create a repository of history and institutional memory for the WHOLE sport, one which until now has not existed..
1998's inductees were the original triathletes, the guys who started triathlon even before the Ironman. To their credit, Triathlete Magazine is inducting in chronological order, resisting the temptation to slam in the big names right off.
But last night there were some pretty big names, along with a few personalities the average newbie probably wouldn't recognize.
First off was THE MAN, Dave Scott, introduced by Paula Newby-Fraser, whois due in herself when the Hall starts recognizing the accomplishments of the late '80s. Most long-time followers of the sport agree that although Dave may not get the nod from the average triathlete as history's best all-time performer, he does stand apart in a place the sport reserves for him and him alone. Allen, considered by most the fastest triathlete ever, Tinley and Molina, are the archangels, but Dave is the God. It's fitting that he should be the first in of the big four, both chronologically and as befits his unparallelled status.
John Howard was the first single-sport champion to make it to multisport; he won the first Ironman held in Kona in 1981. That was my first time in Hawaii, and I thought I was going pretty fast. It was while watching John Howard race (briefly going the other way) that I understood my true pecking order in the sport (way down there).
Also inducted was a figure who, sadly, most triathletes will never have an opportunity to meet. She sits quietly in Tampa, Florida, working at her own medical transcription business. If you were to ask Dave Scott and his likes, who is the true all-time hero of the sport, they would probably say "Valerie Silk," owner of the Ironman from 1980 to 1990. Valerie was the heart and soul of Ironman, and personally hung leis around the neck of every finisher of every Ironman for the entire decade of the '90s. Her induction was the right thing to do. It's fitting that she finally--a little too late but better late than never--made it into Ironman's Hall.
Sally Edwards was introduced by Jim Curl. Having both of them standing on the dais together, you could have easily turned it around. The olympic distance, the popularity of triathlon in the short distance, bringing the sport to the masses--was all the work of Jim Curl and his partner Carl Thomas, founders of the original USTS in 1982. Maybe next year for him. Meanwhile, Sally Edwards is a fitting inductee.
The theme of the evening was how everyone in the early days "made it up as they went along." Same with Jim, Sally, Valerie, everyone. Even the athletes. Dave Scott told the story of Molina's first Ironman in '81, how they had to cart Molina, in second place on the run at the time, off the course because he'd downed two full water bottles of honey up to that point (who knew any better?). If GU had been around back then maybe he'd have won the '81 race. Live and learn. So Sally, in that same vein, was author (of 13 books, one with Jim Curl on race directing), event director, advocate for women's rights in sports and triathlon cheerleader. Somewhere in there she also found time to be one of the top two or three female competitors in the sport in the early '80s.
Also inducted was Commander John Collins, USN retired, whose idea the Ironman was in the first place. Bob Babbitt, founder/publisher of Competitor Magazine, introduced Collins and pointed to the parking lot, where Collins' early vintage Volkswagen bus-- the "Port-a-Party"-- was parked. Collins drove it up to Oceanside from Panama, where he is, yes, working on a new triathlon. That's the same vehicle he's been driving since before the first Ironman. Go John.