Home > Feature

7 Things you didn’t know about triathlon

Or did you? A true test of your triathlon knowledge

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Compared to the three activities that make up a triathlon – swim, bike and run – triathlon is a new sport on the block. Triathlon is getting close to being 50 years old, though – which is enough time to create some pretty interesting history. Here’s a few things we bet most of you didn’t know about the sport we love:

The Canadian Ironman of Ironmans … John Wragg at the Ironman Mont-Tremblant welcome dinner before his 208th Ironman race.

A Canadian holds the record for the most Ironman finishes:

Missassauga, Ont.’s John Wragg holds the record for the most Ironman finishes – he’s finished 263 of the events since he did his first in 1998. In case you’re wondering, that is a total of 999.4 km of swimming, 47,340 km of biking and 11,098.6 km of running – just in competitions alone!

He’ll continues to add to that total with a slew of races planned for 2022, including the Ironman World Championship in October. Wragg’s partner, Elizabeth Model, has completed 103 Ironman races, the second-most for a woman.

Photo: Getty Images

The Kona race date used to be dependant on the full moon

Until the early 2000s when the sport was finally getting big enough that it’s flagship event had to have a consistent weekend every year, the Ironman World Championship used to take place on the Saturday closest to the full moon in October. That meant that some years it could happen earlier, or later in the month. The full moon made it easier for athletes to see after dark, which was appreciated in the years before Kailua-Kona started to develop and there were more lights on the roads. It was amazing how much the moon could light things up for the out and back section in the famed Energy Lab.

Related: 5 Things you may not have known about triathlon

Triathlon made its debut at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 …

That’s 10 years before it became part of the Olympic program. The 1990 Commonwealth Games took place in Auckland, New Zealand, and triathlon was included as a demonstration event. Kiwis Erin Baker and Rick Wells took the gold medals at the event. It wasn’t for another decade after that that triathlon would become part of the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Photo: Pinterest

At 85 he is the oldest Kona finisher

Japan’s Hiromi Inada became the oldest man to finish the Ironman World Championship in 2018, when he became the first person in the 85 to 89 category to finish the race. His time was 16:53:49. Inada turns 90 this year and, in June, he finished Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in 8:43:13. He’s said that he wants to be the first 90 year old to finish the Ironman World Championship.

The oldest woman to finish an Ironman is Sister Madonna Buder, who was 82 when she crossed the line at Ironman Canada in 2012.

You can do a triathlon with your dog

We first reported on triathlon events you could do with your furry friend back in 2016, but there still aren’t a lot of events to choose from for your swim/ bike/ run loving canine here in North America. The United Kingdom-based Tri-Dog offers some events, and earlier this year there was an event in Germany, the¬†Amelinghausen Dog Triathlon, that included a 80-meter swim, 3.5-km bike and a 2 km run.

Canadians John Wragg and Elizabeth Model are two of only five people who have completed every Ironman race. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

There are five people who have done every single Ironman race

Meet “the club”- the aforementioned John Wragg, his partner and fellow Canadian Elizabeth Model, Mexico’s Luis Alvarez, American Jeff Jonas and Germany’s Holger Mueller. They have competed in every Ironman in the world and continue to travel the world to maintain that status. This weekend Wragg and Model are in Finland to check that box.

Carol Montgomery. Photo: World Triathlon

Meet the two-sport Canadian Olympians

We’ve seen athletes compete at the Olympics in two different sports four or eight years apart, but it rarely happens at the same Games or in the same year. Carol Montgomery was so talented as both a triathlete and as a runner that she qualified for both the triathlon and the 10,000 m race at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. (She won two medals – bronze and silver in the 5,000 and 10,000 m at the Pan Am Games in 1995 on the track.) Unfortunately she was in a crash during the triathlon, the first medal event of the Games, and wasn’t able to compete on the track. Two years later she would take gold in the triathlon at the Commonwealth Games.

In 1984 Canadian cross-country skiing legend Pierre Harvey represented Canada at both the winter and summer Olympic Games – he was part of the road team that helped Steve Bauer to the silver medal in Los Angeles. During the summers Harvey would compete in triathlons.