History of Triathlon: 1987

Triathlon Federation USA was still in the process of polishing the many policies, procedures, competitive rules, as well as the measures to further increase membership. In the mean time, race records as well as entry of novice triathletes who will later become big names in the sporting arena, occurred in 1987.


In keeping with Tri-Fed’s efforts to make technical and training information as well as teach race directors the methods for improving race management, the Mid Atlantic Triathlon Workshop was conducted. This was done on January 24 and was headed by J.R. Davison.


The month of March witnessed policies concerning Special Events being passed. Fees on Special Events will now vary according to the number of competitors. It was also decided that sanctioned events must now bear the federation’s banner.

During the first quarter of the year, the long discussed plan for collecting annual membership fees from folks who will compete in Tri-Fed-sanctioned events was finally enacted.


At the federation’s yearly meeting, the Board of Directors announced that it will adopt a handful of policies and competitive rules that have been drafted and polished since 1985. Of the numerous articles, drafting received the most attention. Guidelines as to what constitutes drafting have now been made clear as well as the corresponding penalties for said offense.

Another crucial policy with regards judgment calls was enacted during the meeting as well. According to the new rules, judgment calls can not be appealed. Guidelines on wearing wetsuits during the swim leg, as well as detailing the definition of a bicycle such as approved height, length, and accessories, were accomplished as well.

Around the same time, R.E. Jimison, an age-group triathlete who had vast experience officiating sports competitions, got elected as the first ever Commissioner of Officials of Tri-Fed. Numerous training clinics for race officials were held during the year, with 111 race officials getting certified by Jimison himself.

Notable Triathletes

While Tri-Fed was busy refining its function as the sport’s governing body, milestones were being made in the various triathlon circuits in 1987.

1. Lance Armstrong

1987 wasn’t Armstrong’s first taste of the endurance sport. In fact, he was already competing in triathlons as early as 11 years old, winning first prize in IronKids events in 1983 and 1985. 1987 though was memorable as it was the year Armstrong competed in the very same triathlon event which was participated in by some of the sport’s legends Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Andrew MacNaughton.

Mark Allen and Lance Armstrong in the bike leg of a 1987 triathlon competition

2. Dave Scott

Scott, a veteran of the sport, wins his 6th and last gold in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

3. Erin Baker

Baker has been running competitively since she was 15 and had been aiming to compete in the Ironman early on. However, she had trouble getting into the United States after having been convicted for heaving explosive devices while protesting the visit of South Africa’s rugby team in New Zealand in 1981. But as soon as her travel restrictions were lifted, Baker pursued her Ironman goal and won her first ever gold in the 1987 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.


Triathlon Federation History: 1982-1987

USA Triathlon History of Competitive Rules

The Triathlon Officials Program: 1983-1998

Dave Scott

Ironman Life: Andrew MacNaughton

Ironman World Championship

Erin Baker

1981 South Africa rugby union tour of New Zealand

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