COUER D'ALENE, Idaho - Viktor Zyemstev from the Ukraine has won the 2007 Ironman Coeur d'Alene triathlon. He also won in 2005.
The Ironman competition is one of the most grueling events in the world of sport, and also one of the most inspiring. Ironman triathlon features a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a complete marathon (26.2 miles) all in succession. Athletes have 17 hours to complete the event (from the 7 a.m. start until midnight).
Ironman triathlon had the humblest of beginnings, as a group of Navy Seals who were stationed in Hawaii, were discussing who were the fittest athletes in the world. Were swimmers, cyclists or runners the fittest? Navy commander John Collins decided there was only one way to find out, and that was to combine all three.
So on Feb. 18, 1978, 15 competitors decided to put themselves to the test by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. "Whoever finishes first will be called the Ironman," Collins said. And thus, Ironman Triathlon was born.
2003 marked the 25th anniversary of that first event and the growth of Ironman has been spectacular.
Since those humble beginnings, the sport of Ironman has developed into an international phenomenon. With 21 Ironman distance events sanctioned races worldwide for 2006, Ironman touches all corners of the globe and has races on all of the continents of the world except Antarctica.
With 21 full-distance races worldwide, more than 22,000 athletes are expected to compete in Ironman events in 2006.
More than 14,000 athletes competed in the eight North America Sports events held in 2005. The growth of Ironman has been exponential in nature.
As recently as August of 1998 there was one Ironman event in all of North America, and none at all in the continental United States. Six Ironman events will be held in continental North America and five in the U.S.
Worldwide, the growth has been much the same as Ironman has grown from eight races in 1998 to 21 in 2006.