This weekend, approximately 2,000 competitors will swim, run, and bike through the Adirondack region for the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon. The Lake Placid event is the second oldest race location in the Ironman series, and one of the most popular. Contestants participating will undergo a grueling competition; the triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run.
Triathlons are generally considered to have started in France during the 1920s. Called “Les trois sports”, the first formal “race” was in the 1920s-1930s. This race is still held every year in France.
The race series that would eventually be called “Ironman” started in Hawaii in the 70s. US Navy Commander John Collins is considered to be the originator of the race idea, as he was debating with other athletes which athletes were the fittest; swimmers, bikers, or runners. This argument eventually turned into an event where three forms of racing (swimming, biking, and running) were combined to form the modern day “Ironman” race. The phrase Ironman was also based at this first event, when Collins said, in regard to a local runner, “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man”.
Ironman has held this race in Lake Placid since 1999, but lately concerns have arisen about the future of the event. For years, there have been debates about the Ironman competitors despite the many train, compete, and support the local economy here in Lake Placid. One of the biggest complaints is the cyclist/motorist debate; the cyclists contend that some drivers are less than law-abiding and rude; motorists complain that cyclists are “in the way” and often don’t follow traffic laws. You can read more about the controversy in a commentary by local bike shop owners here.
For those interested in watching the race, the first leg of the race, the swim, starts in Mirror Lake at 7 am. Ironman continues all day until 12 am. It is worth visiting the Olympic Oval, where the top runners start coming in around 4 pm; spectators can sit in the bleachers and cheer on their favorite athletes.
For more information, visit www.ironman.com.