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Fight for Air Cimb

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Fight for Air Cimb

Join the Fight for Air CLIMB! Individuals and teams climb all 47 floors of the US Bank building, downtown - totaling 1,034 steps! More than a run, more than a walk, the Fight for Air Climb is a unique event with an exciting challenge for anyone.


Four years before the Ironman, the first triathlon was held on Mission Bay in San Diego. It was directed and conceived by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan and sponsored by the San Diego Track Club. What follows is the story of the beginnings of this new sport as remembered by one of its founders.

In 1971, at age 35, I joined millions of other Americans in the jogging craze. As was the case with so many others, I'd been growing increasingly disgusted with my ever-expanding waistline and general physical deterioration. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was competing in road races, which at that time, were relatively small (and inexpensive) affairs. My previous athletic career had been eight years as a high school and college swimmer. Despite being named to the 1957 Collegiate and AAU All-American teams in the 100 yard breast stroke, my overall performances had been rather mediocre.

After a year or so of competitive running, I was still struggling to regain my athletic mediocrity. Then, in 1973, I heard about the Dave Pain Birthday Biathlon, to be staged for the second time on July 28. A 4.5 mile run followed by what was billed as a quarter-mile swim. (The actual distance was between 200 and 300 yards)

My race! I thought. How many of these runners can swim? I found out. I can't remember my exact place, and the full results aren't available, but I think I came in somewhere around 14th. Nothing to write home about, but a lot better than I'd been doing in road races.

In much better shape the following year, I broke into the top ten. That rather modest success got me to thinking, There should be more of these races, and the swim should be longer.

Someone else wasn't going to do it. If I wanted it to happen, I had to make it happen. I conceived of a run-swim biathlon with equal emphasis on the two disciplines, and several alternate legs. The initial run could be done in racing shoes, but subsequent running legs would have to be barefoot on a suitable surface (grass or sand). The Fiesta Island area of Mission Bay, where Dave Pain's race had been staged, was almost perfect. I designed a course, then called Bill Stock, the San Diego Track Club Calendar Chairman, and told him of my plans. He said he would put it on the calendar, and the rest was up to me. As an afterthought, he suggested I call Don Shanahan, who also had some strange event in mind. Maybe we could combine our ideas so there wouldn't be too many "weird" races on the schedule.

I called Don and he told me that he wanted to include a biking leg. I wasn't too thrilled with the suggestion, having never cycled competitively (I didn't even own a bike). But what the hell, I thought, let's go for it. We decided to call the event the Mission Bay Triathlon.


Neither Don nor I had put on a race before and we had a lot to learn. We leaned on friends and relatives and signed up as many volunteers as we could. The race had to be held late in the summer to allow enough time for publicity. We chose Wednesday, September 25, 1974 as our date, there being no available weekend time slots on the calendar. Our brief notice in the September Issue of the San Diego Track Club Newsletter read as follows:


The First Annual? Mission Bay Triathlon, a race consisting of segments of running, bicycle riding, and swimming, will start at the causeway to Fiesta Island at 5:45 P.M. September 25. The event will consist of 6 miles of running (longest continuous stretch, 2.8 miles), 5 miles of bicycle riding (all at once), and 500 yards of swimming (longest continuous stretch, 250 yards). Approximately 2 miles of running will be barefoot on grass and sand. Each paricipant must bring his own bicycle. Awards will be presented to the first five finishers. For further details contact Don Shanahan (488-4571) or Jack Johnstone (461-4514).

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Details and Specs

Event Date: Mar 23, 2013 07:00 AM - Mar 23, 2013 12:00 PM
Hours of Operation: Not Listed
Notes: None Listed


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