Members thoughts on the history of Ironman Oz.

From "Flanman" 

This year marks 30 years of Ironman in Australia, starting with a very small field in Forster.

It was 1985 and the only thing I knew of triathlon was Wide World of Sport on channel 9. I remember trying to put off my chores around the house after 1pm on a Saturday to watch WWOS, much to the disgust of my missus. The only thing I remember of Ironman and Triathlon was Hawaii.

I started doing Tri’s in 1989 but did not attempt training/competing in IM until 1997. A few people on here have competed earlier including IMs. In fact, a few competed in the very early days. I thought it might be good to hear a bit of history from over the past 30 years from Trannies that have been around. I don’t care if you started 1 year ago or 30 - it all makes up the history of IMOZ over the past 30 years. Anyway, so here is mine.

I have been involved in IMOZ from around 1993 to 2014, either as a spectator, competitor or volunteer. I love the days leading up to, including and after the race. I like what it brings out in people. I have had good racing days (no issues and got home in reasonable time) to very bad days (4 flat tyres, busted front wheel, blown knee and cycled 1 legged for 100 kms). I have missed 2 paid races due to being hit by a car. I have not raced at Port, only Forster – the traditional home of IMOZ. I love volunteering and getting everyone home, especially Trannies and friends. It means the world to me.

I have linked 2 races, the original from 1985 and the other from 2014. I was not there for the 1st but some on here were. Tony Unicomb face pops up at the end. From meagre beginnings as an amateur fun feel event, leading up to the professional international race as it is now.

Take the time and watch the whole 1985 race. The swim, T1 and T2 were different from the beginning but the finish line was the same. Carbo night was very similar (except for the beers taken the night before). The finish chute in Forster was the best the world had to offer.

The 2nd link is from 2014. Moving into professional footage, great production, fantastic location, super fit athletes and atmosphere.

The thing that has not changes is the Aussie supporters. I was speaking with Ken Baggs and he said that his job was basically to get everyone home. . It is everyone’s role to getting everyone home, no matter who the athlete is.Our job as spectators and volunteers is to honour that promise

So after watching both clips (and please take time to look at the total clip from 1985 to see where IMOZ came from), I would love you to put down your memories and experiences from the last 30 years. This can be from a while ago or recent, it can be as a competitor, volunteer or spectator – it all makes up the history.


Whilst I have added a little of me above, I also had a recent experience. Down at Husky in Feb, someone recognised me as I had my Trannie Flanman hat on. He thanked me for looking after him after he crossed the finish line – twice at 2 different years in Port. I did not know him but looked after him and took the time to get him to medical and/or recovery. I am glad I added just something to his IMOZ experience that will be etched in his memory for life.

Some members of the Transitions "Family" over the years.


From " Avago" 

Avago was there in '85 and definitely having a go.

Young, dumb and you know the rest...

Having done a few of the early tris, Nepean, Sydney tri at Narrabeen 2/80/20, 2Day FM tri across the harbour and a heap more.

I think the long events piqued my interest when the MMM tri was run. A female friend was entered and during the run a big storm hit so the SES marshals had to go to do SES stuff... No aid stations, so I rode with Teresa and jumped ahead to the servo to buy drinks etc...

If she could do it, then so could I!

Anyway, Forster (GLITA) Tri.. Oh yeah, steel bike, leather bike shoes and I had a fancy new Stack Hat... I thought I looked pretty good. ( as I said before, young, dumb,....)

Swim was at Pacific Palms with the ride to follow out towards Bulahdelah over the hills, there, back, do it again, finish in Forter, then run back out along the Lakes Way to Tiona Park and back. Easy eh ( young, dumb, ....)
The day before, I thought it'd be a good idea to shave my legs for the first time, so sitting on the side of the bathtub, with lathered legs in the empty tub, I took a new razor, first pull up the shin... 150 x 15 mm slice of skin shaved straight off. I bled like a pig and all the blood in a white bathtub made it look like a slasher murder... ( young, dumb, ....)

Haven't shaved my legs again... Nair if necessary.

The night before the race there was a carbo dinner at the Services Club, all went well, pasta was plentiful, dinner finished and a local rock band took to the stage. The first bar they played, everyone got up and left... Not because they were bad, but nigh before a big race is resting time, not late night rock,n, roll. since then, they've changed the carbo night to two nights out from the race. It was a learning curve for all.

Overnight there was a cold southerly breeze that cooled the place down.

Dawn, ready to go, so we had to walk maybe 4-500 m south along the bay to the start point.
In we go, away.... All good, but a tad cooler than the Friday swim there... Water felt like 16 or so, but Friday was maybe 20....

Heading in from the far turn around and damn, now it cold, like f'n cold.... Ok Avago, just swim to the new buoy... Ok, one more, that's it, just one more and we'll get there..

By about 3200m, I could no longer make the next buoy and was about to grab hold of a ski to regroup when the lifesavers in a rubber ducky, grabbed me into the boat, threw a foil blanket around me and sped to shore.... I stayed wrapped in foil and a blanket for maybe 45-60 min..

Of the 180 odd that started that day, approx 60 were pulled out with hypothermia ( btw, our participation in the inaugural event will, most likely not be mentioned at the 30th anniversary race)

Why, were your wetsuits not working you young ones may ask...

There were no wetsuits in use back then, no one used them at that stage . (young, dumb,..)

Actually, Nick Munting (tri race director) has written how he was driving past at the time, not knowing anything about tris and saw the carnage at the Pacific Palms Club and stopped to see if he could be if assistance... And so started his involvement in our sport . ( think Canberra LC tris )

Much later having warmed up again, I ventured out on the bike, but as a withdrawn athlete, there was no heart in it, so I packed it in... Ironman.... Not today

Anyway, around 5 pm I was eating Chinese... Which I always have when in Forster, on the balcony and lo and behold, but Scott Tinley and I think Scott Molina ( but I could be wrong on him) walked past, and we shared a moment, re withdrawing... 2 of the big 4 of the sport also were beaten by the cold on the day... I felt better, but still...

Two weeks later, back in Sydney during a lunchtime swim, I got out of the pool, midway through, showered and walked away ... The music died.
Just as an aside, from 1976 through to this period I had been a 50 per day B&H smoker.
When I finally gave up in 1995, I pulled the bike back out from under my mothers house, and as they say, the rest is history.

11 years after starting my first Ironman race, I completed my first one in 1996.
Also, in all the time we went to Forster for IMs, we never holidayed there, but since 2007 we have spent a couple of weeks at Sandbar at Christmas, with New Years Eves at PAcific Palms watching the fireworks with family & friends and every single time I drive along the Lakes Way, I'm reminded, that I truly loved that period of my life from '96 to '06 whilst the IM was there... My life and circumstances changed significantly in mid '06, not bad, just different, but those years were the memories I'll cherish.
Port IM, yep, it's the IM Aust, but hey, I'm yet to have any true affection for the race (have done Port IM '07, '13 & '14). Port is great, the race... Comsi comca.
30th Anniversary Australian Ironman. Congratulations to an old Dame.

P.s. On the day I returned from Forster back in 1985 I asked the most lovely (future) Mrs Avago if we could cement our futures together.... 5 years later in early April we were married ( 25th anniversary a couple of weeks ago was had in Azerbaijan )and have for most of our married life celebrated our anniversary at the IM, with 2 1/2 thousand friends and like minded people...
See Port changed that by having a May race :-(


P.s.s 21st IM this year, 13 Aust, the rest at Malaysia, Kona, NZ & Melbourne .

This is a long and waffling and to some, boring post from a has been, never was, but, hey, IM Aust in all it's guises, but most importantly, the people whose paths I have been so lucky to share, have been and continue to be such a major part of me and my life .

And I too like young Jolene am still genuinely excited.


© Transitions 2015