About Triathlon…

Triathlon – The birth of a new sport

Triathlon is an athletic competition that includes three disciplines:
swimming, cycling and running.

Events in early 20th-century France are considered the beginnings of triathlon. The earliest record dates from 1901 when the event “Les trois sports” (Three sports) was held in Joinville-le-Pont, Val-de-Marne, and consisted of a running, bicycle and canoe segment.

In time, the canoe segment was replaced by swimming, and for the event in Joinville-le-Pont on June 19, 1921, the newspaper L’Auto stated that the race consisted of 3 km of running, 12 km of cycling and swimming across the Marne, all consecutively and without rest.

During the 1920s, similar events occurred in other cities in France: the “Course des Trois Sports” in Marseilles and the “La Course des Débrouillards” in Poissy. These events continue to slowly spread and grow in popularity. An interesting event “Les Trois Sports” took place in 1934 in the city of La Rochelle, and consisted of swimming across the canal (200 m), cycling around the port of La Rochelle (10 km), and running at the stadium André-Barbeau (1, 2 km).

After those years, the triathlon was not organized, that is, there was no record of competition, until the ‘Mission Bay Triathlon’ near San Diego, USA on September 25, 1974 (5:45 p.m., Wednesday). The race consisted of 10 km of running, 8 km of cycling and 500 m of swimming.
At the start of the race, there were 46 competitors, mostly colleagues and acquaintances from the athletic and swimming club, while their families participated in the organization. Winner Bill Phillips had a time of 55 minutes and 44 seconds, and everyone who started and finished the race, with Barbara Stalder finishing last after 1 hour 34 minutes and 51 seconds.
That date is today marked as the beginning of modern triathlon. The founders of the sport we know today as triathlon are Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan

How did Johnstone and Shanahan come up with the idea of ​​a triathlon?

Jogging as a form of recreation in the 70s in America is experiencing great popularity and expansion. Despite being a member of the university swimming teams in 1957, Johnstone was a mediocre runner. In 1973, he participated in his birthday biathlon – a kind of aquathlon – by his colleague Dave Pain (4.5 miles of running and ¼ miles of swimming).

The following year, after a second participation and placement among the top 10 competitors, Johnstone wanted to organize a race like this himself and asked Bill Stock, president of his San Diego Track Club, to add the race to the club schedule. Bill Stock referred Jack to Don Shanahan, who also had similar “weird” races in mind, and suggested that they make a joint project so that there weren’t too many weird races on the calendar. Jack called Don who suggested he include a bike section as well (because there were already similar run-swim races in town). Jack Johnstone wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea because he didn’t even have a bike, but he agreed.

When naming the event, the pair used an unofficially agreed naming system for a multi-sport event, using the Greek triassic number for the event number (three) and the Greek athlos suffix for the competition, hence the event called the Mission Bay Triathlon.

It is interesting to mention that neither founder has heard of the French events, both believing that their idea for the race is unique.

A large number of attendees surprised Johnstone and Shanahan, and two notable attendees, Judy and John Collins, will unveil an event four years later that drew international attention to a new sport – the Ironman Triathlon Hawaii.

John Collins (1:19:19), a U.S. Navy officer, finished 35th. Had it not been for John Collins being relocated to Oahu, one of the 8 Hawaiian Islands is questionable whether triathlon would have become an organized sport at all or would have remained another attempt to test human endurance.

The idea for the original Ironman Triathlon arose during the 1977 Oʻahu Perimeter Relay awards ceremony. Participants included representatives of both mid-Pacific runners and the Waikiki Swimming Club, whose members have long debated which athletes are more willing, runners or swimmers.

On that occasion, U.S. Navy Commander John Collins noted that a recent article in Sports Illustrated magazine reported that Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx had the highest recorded “oxygen intake” of any athlete ever measured, so perhaps cyclists were more prepared than anyone.

Collins and his wife Judy Collins participated in triathlons organized by the San Diego Track Club in California in 1974 and 1975, so Collins suggested that the debate be resolved by a race that combines three existing long distance races already on the island:

• The Waikiki Roughwater Swim – swimming in the open sea at Waikiki Beach (2.4 miles or 3.86 km),

• the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles or 185 km; originally a two-day event) and

• Honolulu Marathon (26,219 miles or 42,195 km).

and in a practical way they solve the question of who is the most prepared athlete: a swimmer, runner or cyclist, and whoever passes the finish line first I will call him a man of steel – IRONMAN.

Before the race, each athlete was given three sheets of paper with a few rules and a description of the track. On the last page, this incentive is handwritten: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life” – Brag for the rest of your life! – today’s trademark of the race!

The competition was held on February 18, 1978 (at 7:00 am) which is the beginning of the first modern length triathlon – the Ironman triathlon. This is the most respected triathlon competition since the Olympics.

He beat Gordon Haller (an experienced marathoner with PB 2:27:34, and he was also a good cyclist – employed as a communications expert in the US Navy) with a time of 11:46:58 and became the first Ironman. Of the 15 competitors, 12 finished the race, including John Collins (just under 5 p.m.). Interestingly, Haller continued with Ironman competitions (over the next 40 years) and became a 25x Ironman finisher.

Organizing the race cost John Collins $ 25, so he agreed to organize the race the following year as well. As early as the following year, 50 participants registered, but due to bad weather conditions, only 15 competitors took part. That 1979, Tom Warren won by improving Gordon Haller’s score by more than 30 minutes (11:15:46). Among them appeared the first woman – Lyn Lemaire as the first Ironwoman – 6th overall with a time of 12:55:38.

Great credit for promoting the race goes to Barry McDermott, a Sports Illustrated journalist who followed the golf competition and read the news of the race in a local newspaper. He looked for John Collins and while driving in the car he watched the whole race and wrote an article. His article prompted the ABC leadership to contact Collins and make a report that would intrigue the crowd and mass the race.

Just as the race begins to grow into something big John Collins is moved from Hawaii and leaves the race to the Silk couple who run a local fitness club. After the divorce, Valerie Silk gets the right to organize the race. Valerie decides to move the race from tame Oahu Island to the lava-ravaged Big Island in 1981, where winds coming from Mauna Kea volcano reach speeds of up to 80 km / h, and the air temperature through the lava fields through which the marathon runs can be as high as 50 ° C. . In 1982, the race date was moved from February to October; as a result of this change two Ironman Triathlons took place that year.

Thanks to the miraculous power of Ironman television on Big Island, it became planetarily popular (1,000 participants were already competing that year) and grew into the Ironman Triathlon World Championships. So, due to the great interest of athletes from all over the world, a number of qualifying races are being introduced on all continents.

The number of athletes trying to qualify each year has climbed in recent years to 50,000 competitors of all ages (18 to 80).

In 1990, James P. Gills bought the Hawaii Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman brand from Silk. With the Ironman brand, Gills founded the World Triathlon Corporation.

The Ironman format of the competition remains unchanged to this day, and the Hawaiian Ironman is considered a prestigious event in the world of triathlon. The current Ironman Hawaii track record was set in  2022 by Gustav Iden (Norway), whose victory time was 7:40:24 h. Daniela Ryf (Switzerland) set a track record for women in 2018 with a time of 8: 26: 18h.

The sport soon crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Hawaii and conquered Europe, and later spread throughout the world. The first triathlon in Europe was held on August 30, 1980 in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. As early as the following year, triathlons were held in the Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany. Today, triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

The European Triathlon Union (ETU) was founded in 1984, and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) in 1989.

On July 23, 1985, the 1st European Triathlon Championships were held in Immenstadt, West Germany.

In 1994, triathlon became an Olympic sport, and it has been in the program of the Olympic Games since 2000, and since then it has been a standard Olympic sport. The sections of the triathlon prescribed at the Games are: 1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling, 10 km running. Therefore, the stated lengths of the triathlon track are also called ‘Olympic triathlon’.

How did Triathlon get to Croatia?

In the late 1970s, after the first Ironman competition held in the United States, Hawaii (1978), triathlon moved to Europe.
At that time, our citizen Čedo Paić from Šibenik lived in the Netherlands, who in his youth rowed for Šibenik’s “Krka” and in those 70 years was a candidate for the Olympic Games in Munich (1972). However, the business took him to the Netherlands where he moved and settled to this day.
Paić could not do without sports, and today it is difficult to imagine sports – triathlon without Paić. Thanks to his excellent physical predispositions and strong sportsmanship, the new sport that was on the horizon was a tailor-made challenge for Paić. Čedo Paić was the first Croatian to take part in a triathlon competition, Sparnnawaude (Netherlands), where he finished the Olympic triathlon (1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling, 10 km running).

28.08.1985 Čedo Paić was also the first Croatian to finish the Ironman distance (3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling, 42.2 km running) in Almere (Netherlands) which has one of the longest traditions in the world, right behind Ironman Hawaii , where Ironman originated. The tradition of triathlon in Almere (a city near Amsterdam) lasts from 1983 until today.

Čedo Paić achieved a phenomenal result of 10:23:21! Out of a total of 1,200 competitors, Čedo won 6th place in the overall standings and 2nd place in his category!

He also performed the following year. In 1986, Paić competed in 2 Ironmans (Netherlands and Sweden) in just one month. In 08/1986, the entire elite gathered at the Ironman – Sater, Sweden, all the pioneers of Ironman: Dave Schot: 6 times world Ironman champion, nickname: The Man), Mark Allen (6 times world Ironman champion), Schot Tinli (2 times world Ironman champion) Schot Molina (1 time world Ironman champion, nickname: Terminator) as well as many others: Rob Barel, Gregor Stam, Karin Becker … In in the second lap, which was 8 km Paić, one of the world’s best triathletes, Schot Molina, arrives for the whole lap and crashes in front of Paić. Paić stops, tries to help him, but Molina gives up, and Paić continues and enters the finish line in front of Molina! Paić was a total of 5x Ironman finishers until 1988, after which he started running marathons. He added 33 martons to his collection of success, all under 3h! (1988 in the first marathon in New York he ran an extraordinary 2:42:50!)

On August 4, 1996 (at the age of 50) on the occasion of the celebration of the liberation action Storm and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, he was the first Croat to do a duathlon running from Šibenik to Knin a 56 km long section at 4:16 (38 ° C) and returning to bike back to Šibenik, and he was accompanied by cyclists BK Šibenik (15) and BK Marjan (2)

The first TV report on triathlon from 1985 was interesting – Čedo Paić talks about triathlon on HRT, and Drago Ćosić concludes the show: the marriages of triathletes have been seriously shaken; and they sway like themselves when they enter the goal. In the Netherlands alone, divorce is on the verge of half of those involved in triathlon! So check your marital relationships well before you start training

Čedo Paić has been successfully passing on his love for sports and athletics to the youngest for years, creating them national, world and Olympic winners.

04/26/1981 A group of Mladost swimmers is gathering in Croatia to start running in an organized way: Borko Prvan, Marijan Pedišić and Nenad Ivanković, who are also the founders of triathlon in Croatia. The annual training cycle was divided into 4 parts: The first part – the emphasis was on training according to the marathon program – always in April. Most often it was a marathon in Vienna. Then the emphasis shifted to triathlon training for the summer months when they competed in various triathlon competitions. The autumn part again focused on running, where the main race was the Zagreb Marathon and Half Marathon and the Starek Half Marathon a little later in the calendar. And the start of winter was dedicated to marathon cross-country skiing training in January.

In his youth, Marijan Pedišić was an excellent swimmer who in 1973 even broke Veljko Rogošić’s record in the 1,500 m pool (which was world class at the time). Besides being an excellent triathlete, Pedišić was also known as one of the best Croatian lawyers (he was in the defense team of General Ante Gotovina).

Nenad Ivanković is a well-known and respected name in Croatian journalism: editor-in-chief of Vjesnik (90s), journalist of the year, two-time world journalistic champion in cross-country skiing, founder of the boxing club (

Borko Prvan, after a successful swimming career, turns to triathlon and will be a consistent participant and initiator or creator of almost all important triathlon and multisport events in Croatia. In 1984, our future triathletes received word about Čedo Paić from Šibenik, who lives in the Netherlands and is involved in a new sport – triathlon, and their interest in the new sport is growing. An agreement is reached to buy road bikes for races and to try this sport, and the agreement was realized in August next year.

On August 24, 1985 in Bled (Slovenia) was the first official performance of Croats (from Croatia) in triathlon, which included: 2,150 km of swimming, 64 kilometers of cycling and 15.5 km of running with Prvan, Pedišić, Ageejev and Tumara.

At the 5th Plitvice Marathon in 10/1986. Our triathlon legends met: Čedo Paić (marathon – finished in 2:42 h!) and Borko Prvan and Marijan Pedišić (half marathon) and used the opportunity to exchange experiences from triathlon.

Čeda’s statement at the time is legendary: “Guys, if you plan to do triathlon, you must run a marathon.”

In 1987, the first triathlon in Croatia was organized in Rovinj

1988 The first appearance of the Croats at the European Championships (as part of the Yugoslav national team; Pedišić – 80, Prvan – 86, but Prvan disqualified for driving in the lee)

1989 – The first appearance of a Croat in a long triathlon (4 km swimming, 120 km cycling, 32 km running), Nice (France) – Borko Prvan (as part of the Yugoslav national team)

1992 First performance of Croats under the Croatian flag at the Ironman distance (Pedišić – 9.52h and Prvan – 10.33h in Roth, Germany)

1993 First official appearance under the Croatian flag at the European Championships (Borko Prvan at the Veterans Championships in Szombathely, Hungary)

1993 Historical performance of Marijan Pedišić at the World Championships in Ironman in Hawaii, USA (12th place in the M35 category in the time of 9:34:12); he qualified for the WC with a time of 9: 11h (which was also a state record)

1993 The first triathlon clubs were founded (TK Zagreb and TK Pula)

1994 Borko Prvan won the first medal at the European Triathlon Championships for Croatia (bronze medal in the Master I category, middle triathlon 2.5-90-21, Novo Mesto, Slovenia);

In 1994, the Croatian Triathlon Federation was founded in Pula (the founders were the following clubs: TK Zagreb, TK Pula, TK Rovinj and TK Stubica)

1994 The first appearance of the Croats at the World Championships – long triathlon – Nice, France (4 km swimming, 120 km cycling, 32 km running), with Pedišić (4th in the category), Prvan, Gajski

1995 first national championship – sprint triathlon on Jarun; winner Pedišić, ahead of Prvan

2000 The first appearance of the Croatians at the European Winter Triathlon Championships – running, mtb and cross-country skiing (Prvan and Pedišić); First 5th in the category

2002. Won the first gold medal for Croatia at the European Championships (Tanja Primožič in the veteran category, in Gyor, Hungary)

In 2002, the first EQUILATERAL TRIATHLON was organized on Jarun, where all three disciplines were approximately equally limited in time: 1.5 km of swimming, 12.5 km of cycling and 5 km of running, unlike all other triathlons where swimming was discriminated against compared to the other two disciplines .

11.07.2004 The first Croatian to finish Ironman – Višnja Škevin (TK Zagreb) in 12:34:29 – in Klagenfurt, Austria

26.05.2006 first Croatian to finish double Ironman – Josip Dikon – (Nuelenbach, AUT)

25.08.2007 Split, the first Croatian city to win the European Cup organized by TK Split

Dejan Patrčević
(born 02.11.1975; nickname: Anakin)

He is the first Croatian professional triathlete with significant successes in the ITU World Triathlon Cup and Ironman. He is also the first Croatian licensed ironman trainer (licensed by Ironman U University). He is the founder and trainer of Adriatic Coaching. He is a graduated architect by profession.

2004 first Croatian ITU ranked triathlete (top 20 at the ITU World Cup – 19 after the cup in Rio de Janeiro)

In 2008, Dejan Patrčević placed 23rd at the Ironman World Championships, which is the best result a Croatian has achieved at the Ironman World Championships. That year, Dejan was 11th European in the standings at the World Cup.

2011. Dejan Patrčević set the Croatian Ironman record 8:12:18 h (KMD Challange, Copenhangen)

2016 – It is worth noting that Patrčević won the road race Wings for Life World Run in Zadar by running a distance of 56 km

Karla Čović

In the Austrian Bad Blumau on July 18, 2019. she managed to finish the five-time Ironman race !!!!! When you see the numbers, you won’t be able to believe it: the 41-year-old from Varaždin covered as much as 19 kilometers of swimming (in a 25 m pool! / 760x), 900 kilometers of cycling and 211 kilometers of running in 137 hours, 36 minutes and 22 seconds. Phenomenal! She raced for almost six days and covered 1,130 kilometers!

A year ago, at the World Championships in ultra triple Ironman in the Austrian town of Roger Bad Blumau, she won 2nd place, and in 2017 she was third!

Karla works as a swimming coach at Varaždin’s city pools. She has been involved in triathlon since 2011. She finished her first ironman in 2012. Double in 2013. She trains alone, without a coach.

Željka Šaban Miličić

Željka started training triathlon in 2005, and finished her first Ironman race in 2009 (Ironman Austria). She is the first Croatian to do Ironman in less than 12 hours.

10/06/2019 set the Croatian record in Ironman 9: 19h (Ironman Barcelona).

In 2016 she was the winner of the Wings for life Zadar race.

Željka Šaban is a former swimmer. She is a professor of kinesiology by profession. Currently employed as a trainer at the Swibir Triathlon Club.

Andrej Vištica
(born 31.05.1983. in Ljubuški).

Triathlon competitor since 2006, and professionally since 2014. He is a multiple Croatian champion in medium-length triathlon. He holds a degree in electrical engineering and computer science.

Significant results:
1st place European Long Triathlon Championship (Ironman distance), 2013, Vichy, France
1st place Embrunman, France 2015 (one of the toughest triathlons in the world)
1st place Challenge Vichy, France 2014
2nd place Ironman Wales, Tenby 2015
2nd place Embrunman 2016, 2017, 2019
3rd place Ironman UK, Bolton 2016
3rd place Ironman Italy, Cervia 2017
3rd place Ironman Italy 2017
3rd place Embrunman 2020

At the World Ironman Championships held in Kona, Hawaii, USA in 2016, Andrej took 36th place in a competition of 2,316 competitors.


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