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It’s Been Quite a Ride

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Aug. 23, 2020, 7:55 p.m. (ET)


As the title says, it’s been quite a ride for me in the sport of triathlon.  Formerly a non-athlete (except for downhill skiing, which I took up at age 22), I did my first triathlon at the age of 46, on September 17, 1983.  For those of you who have been following my writings on the pages of the USA Triathlon Blog (and before that in the original version of the magazine), you know that my career in the sport is winding down.  In fact, it may have already wound down completely.  Due both to COVID-19 and other factors, I have not raced this year.  But I won’t know that for sure about that until next season, when, all else being equal, I plan to give it another whirl.  And so, over the course of the next year or so, with the kind permission of my Editor for this space, Tom Lenneberg, I am going to reminisce about 10 of my favorite races, out of the 256 tri’s and du’s that I have done over years.  


I’ll begin with my very first.  That was the second running of the Mighty Hampton Triathlon, the first of that series to be held at Sag Harbor, N.Y.  (As of last year, it was still going.)  The last in this series will be on my experience at the "One More Tri." duathlon, run by Special Olympics of New Jersey at Asbury Park, where special and regular folk race side-by-side, in September, 2018.  If by next year I have hung them up for good, that race will have been my last.


After that first race in Sag Harbor, the list will include my first biathlon, held at the old (by then decommissioned[!]) Floyd Bennett Field Naval Air Station in Brooklyn, N.Y., in May, 1984.  (It was likely the first biathlon --- and the name change came later --- ever held.)  Third on the list will be my first ironman, which was in the Bud Light Endurance series on Cape Cod, MA, in September, 1985.  “Fourth” will be a collective, that is the 18 Central Park (sprint) tri’s that I did from Aug., 1991 to July, 2017. 


The fifth would be what at the time I thought was my 100th multi-sport race, the “Mighty Montauk”, June, 1999. (I actually mis-counted, but I mis-counted the “good” way: it turned out to have been my 101st.)  Next on the list will also be a collective: the three New York City Triathlons, held on the island of Manhattan and the boro of the Bronx, that I did between 2001 and 2006.  Following that will be my first Triathlon Age-Group World Championship attempt, at Madeira Island, Portugal, 2004.  I had a DNF after the bike on that one.  My first Age-Group Triathlon Worlds finish came at Lausanne, SUI., in 2006.  


“Ninth” will also be a group, this time of two.  They were the USA-Triathlon Age-Group Nationals at Tuscaloosa, AL. The one in 2009 featured the classic "uphill" swim (which those of us who did it will never forget).  In 2010, with a normal swim for the Olympic-distance race on the first day, I doubled, doing both the Olympic on the Saturday and the Sprint on the Sunday.


Tenth will be what is as of now my last race, the "One More Tri." duathlon, mentioned above.  A year from now, when this columns series will be done, the date for that race will be approaching once again.  And by that time, I will know whether the 2018 race was my last one, or will I still have “One More Du” in me. 


And then, if by next year, when this series of articles would be finished, I have in fact hung them up, there would a brief review of the four books that I have published on the sport over the years: Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals, New York: W.W. Norton, 1986, “Updated and Expanded” edition, 1999, 20th Anniversary 2nd edition, 2006; The Essential Triathlete, New York: Lyons and Burford: 1996; 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathlon/Duathlon Training and Racing, Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning, 2011; and Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It, Guilford, CT: FalconGuides/Globe Pequot Press, March, 2012. 


Last would be a final, “farewell” column, focusing primarily on how much the sport has meant to me and has done for me over the years


This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at and Steve’s most recent multisport book is Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at and His first book on multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Steve has been racing tri’s and du’s since 1983.  At the end of his 36th season in the sport, 2018, he had done a total of 256 races.