Modern triathlon, which originated in San Diego, California, was by this time celebrating its 33 years of existence. Though just a little over three decades old, it’s certainly achieved a lot. No other fledgling sport became as popular and got considered as fast for the Olympic program than triathlon. And year 2007 saw positive highlights as well as the celebration of life of one of the most memorable triathletes to have ever graced the race circuit.
Death of a remarkable triathlete
The early part of the year started on a somber note for it was when triathlete Jon Blais died. Known as “Blazeman” in the race circuit, he was a huge inspiration to many. Though diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and losing the use of his fingers, he managed to achieve his lifelong dream of finishing the Hawaii Ironman in 2005. To celebrate his life and to continue his legacy, his friends and family put up the Blazeman Foundation. To this day, the foundation hosts charity triathlon competitions to raise awareness and funds for research on the debilitating disease ALS.
McCormack grabs Ironman gold
Australian Chris McCormack became a recognizable and respected name in the world of triathlon when he dominated the ITU World Championship and ITU World Cup races in 1997, an achievement no other male triathlete has yet matched to this day. Having set the goal to conquer the Big Island, McCormack raced his first Hawaii Ironman in 2002 though failed to finish. He joined consistently since, though with highly fluctuating results. Years of training finally paid off when he finished second in 2006, and finally snagged the gold the following year when he crossed the 2007 Hawaii Ironman finish line at an astounding time of 8:15:34.
First British woman to dominate Ironman women’s division
United Kingdom’s Chrissie Wellington was a newcomer to the Hawaii Ironman race circuit in 2007. Though she is not a stranger to the grueling endurance sport, having won the 2006 Lausanne ITU Age Group World Championships, 2007 was her first race as an elite triathlete. No other debut can perhaps be as memorable as Wellington’s for she was declared champion at her first Ironman race, making her the first UK triathlete to bring home the honor.
Triathlete featured on cereal box
Hunter Kemper has by this time represented his country USA twice to the Olympic Games. To honor his contributions, he was handed the 2005 SportsMan of the Year award by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) just the prior year. 2007 was even more special for the Olympian for he became the first ever elite triathlete to grace the cover of the well-liked Wheaties cereal brand.
Competitions with considerable prize purse
Triathlon’s popularity across the United States became even more evident when in 2007, the Hy-Vee World Cup, a race sponsored by the grocery chain Hy-Vee, gave away a total of $700,000 USD, by far the largest prize purse during a one-day race.