Dear Friends of Triathlon in Coronado,
Last year our daughter Kristin Collins Galbreaith made airplane reservations to be in Coronado for the annual Optimist triathlon on 31 July 2022. Kristin and her brother Michael had been in the first ever Optimist Club of Coronado Triathlon on July 27, 1975, 47 years ago. Coronado Aquatics Director, Optimist Stan Antrim, had added the triathlon to the annual Sports Fiesta that the Optimists had begun three years before, in 1972. Fifty years ago.
Over the decades our family looked forward to entering the Optimist Triathlon when we were in town. We enjoyed the friendliness of the Optimist Club volunteers. We saw members of the Hansen family who were always in the event. Antrim had an idea to increase Sports Fiesta participation one year. He induced us to enter three events by adding age-group awards for those who did the swim, the run and the triathlon. Non-sprinters had a chance to place in that category. At that time the 1 mile ocean swim was on Saturday, the triathlon on Sunday.
The 3 Event award was a Hard Rock with our age group and place on it. It was a fun idea. It led to more donations per person to benefit Optimist support of Coronado Youth. When the Age Group Hard Rock categories stopped we stopped entering all three events. In the beginning and in recent years the Triathlon start and finish was in Sunset Park on Sunday morning, 7 a.m., at the end of July.
John and I were disappointed last night. Kristin called us to say she saw on the Optimist Club website that the annual Sports Fiesta has been cancelled. I checked the website. No Sports Fiesta. No explanation. Plus there was some incorrect history of the event on the website that had to do with us.
Until this year “The Optimist” has been the longest running annual triathlon in the world. It was a bike-run-swim-run event for many years. It was at Glorietta Bay for a time. It became a swim-run-bike triathlon. Distances were always the same, 4 mile bike, 400 yd (or 1/4 mile) swim, 1 mile run on the sand. It was fun.
The Coronado Optimist Club triathlon was not the “prototype” for us, Judy and John Collins, when we put on the Honolulu Iron Man Triathlon in Honolulu in 1978. We put on the first-ever long distance triathlon 2 ½ years after the first Optimist Club Triathlon. John and I were not in that 1975 first triathlon in Coronado. Our children were.
The inspiration for us to introduce triathlon to Hawaii had happened in San Diego in 1974. Our Collins Family of four and Coronadan Flo Squires had entered a ten-leg, 10 mile “triathlon” put on by the San Diego Track Club (SDTC). It was in San Diego’s Mission Bay Park on a Wednesday evening, 25 September 1974.
Indirectly, the first “modern” triathlon, the 1974 Mission Bay Triathlon, may have led to the first Optimist Club of Coronado Triathlon in 1975. For us, our experience in the Mission Bay Triathlon is what led to our Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon in Honolulu in 1978.
It went like this that day. We three adults had decided to skip our usual Wednesday afternoon 3 mile timed run around Coronado Golf Course, an activity organized by runner George Green. We also skipped our Coronado Masters Swim practice at the pool at 6 p.m. Kristin and Michael Collins had finished their afternoon practice with the Coronado-Navy Swim Team. We and Flo Squires were adult lap swimmers, members of Coronado Masters Association (CMA). Our coach was Optimist Club activist Stan Antrim.
CMA Member Flo Squires had joined the San Diego Track Club (SDTC) because she wanted to train to run the Boston Marathon. On Monday night Flo read the SDTC newsletter “triathlon” announcement to CMA before practice. John and I liked the idea. On Wednesday we four Collinses and Flo did the run-bike-swim event in Mission Bay. It was more fun than a one hour swim workout. On Friday Stan Antrim scolded us for missing Wednesday swim practice.
I, Judy, told Stan that we had enjoyed doing a non-stop run and a bike ride then running and swimming barefoot for over an hour at Mission Bay. Even though the shoreline was squishy and our last swim was after dark. I told Stan it would be even better to bike, run and swim in Coronado with a swim in the ocean and runs on smooth sand. Stan was vehement. He told me it was a stupid idea and it was “not a sport!»
Our coach surprised us at our CMA workout the next summer. He announced there would be a “triathlon” in addition to the 1 mile swim already on the Sports Fiesta Program. He said he and Optimist Bob Weaver had kept the run short to encourage swimmers to take part, vice versa for the runners, I guess. We swimmers were expected to enter both ocean events.
John and I signed up. Our children Kristin and Michael were entered in the triathlon too. Then a change in plans for us. CMA swimmers read aloud a newsletter list of West Coast Swims at a party after the Optimist Club ocean swim on Saturday. John and I, Dan Hendrickson and another CMA swimmer were talked into driving all night to do a competitive swim in San Francisco Bay. It sounded enticing. Swimmers tossed gas money our way. Instead of doing a bike-run-swim-run, non-stop, on Sunday 27 July 1975 we said we did a drive-swim-drive, non-stop.
By Labor Day 1975 three in our family were doing another “West Coast Swim,” the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Honolulu. Hawaii was our home until 1980. That is where John and I put on the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon in 1978 and 1979 and gave permission to ABC Wide World of Sports to film our 1980 Iron Man Triathlon. By 1980 the Navy had sent us to the East Coast. In 1981 the Iron Man Triathlon moved to Kona, Hawaii and soon became one word, Ironman. Year after year the Optimist Club of Coronado Triathlon has remained on our July calendar in case we were in town to do it.
I may observe the tradition of the annual Coronado triathlon this year, on July 31. Unofficially. I will log my activity on my Garmin watch and Strava.
I will lock my bike across from Sunset Park. Stroll to the shore at Tower 6C, to the start. At 7 a.m., I hope. Swim out 200 yards to where I am parallel to the sea buoy at Tower 5C (if the buoy is there), swim back. Run down past Tower 5C toward Central. Reverse my direction between Tower 4C and the Main lifeguard tower. At the turn I will see 3 Palm trees up by the Rocks by Ocean Boulevard. Run back to Tower 6C, jog up to my bike at Ocean Boulevard. Bike 4 miles in the Country Club area to end back at Sunset Park by the NAS gate. *(See bike course below.)
I might also swim a mile in the ocean on Saturday or Sunday and run a 5 k distance too. Then, with a smooth rock and a marker, I can inscribe my name, the date and the distances of the 3 events. A do-it-yourself Hard Rock Finisher Award. A nice memento, Stan.
Does anyone want to join us?
Thank you Stan Antrim, Bob Weaver, the Hansen family, Cahal Flynn, Dan Hendrickson, Don Crawford, the Optimist Sports Fiesta sponsors, the artist for the T shirt design, each and every Optimist triathlete since 1975 and all the friendly Optimists in gold shirts who kept the Coronado triathlon tradition going. Also, our congratulations to the Optimist Club of Coronado for making the Sports Fiesta last for 50 years.
*The 4 mile bike course to complete the triathlon:
From the Bike Rack at North Beach, across from Sunset Park.
Cross Ocean Boulevard to Ocean Drive (then L,R) to the intersection of Coronado and Alder. Continue to curve R on Alder to Cabrillo. L on Cabrillo (past 10th) to R on 8th, L on Country Club Lane. Continue (past 6th) to the end of Country Club, circle back at the cul de sac. Turn R on 6th to the L turn at Coronado. Continue to where Coronado turns L and ends at Alder. Turn L at Alder. Repeat the loop. After the 2nd loop turn R at the end of Coronado. Follow Ocean Drive (L,R) to the Ocean Boulevard side of Sunset Park and on up to the circle at the NAS Gate. That was the original Start line, on bicycles, in 1975. Done! 400 yd ocean swim, 1 mile beach run, 4 mile bike.
VOL. 112, NO. 27 - July 6, 2022