Not mine of course, one much more interesting to anyone who loves the sport of Triathlon. My subject…will be of a great friend and mentor Dave Orlowski who pictured here (sixth from the right), 35 years ago on February 18th 1978 placed third in what is now known as the Hawaii Ironman. Here are some of the reports from that day…
Clips from the Honolulu Advertiser, Feb. 10, 1978
On this day, 35 years ago, 15 competitors, including Collins, came to the shores of Waikiki beach in Honolulu to take on the IRONMAN challenge. Prior to racing, each received three sheets of paper listing a few rules and a course description. Hand-written on the last page was this exhortation: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
Judy Collins, who originally planned to participate in the inaugural event, was forced to withdraw just days before. John Collins and 11 others finished the entire course. Gordon Haller, a taxi cab driver and fitness enthusiast, crossed the finish line first in 11 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds to become the “original” Ironman. Collins finished the race in a little over 17 hours.
Archie Hapai led the group out of the water, followed by John Dunbar, who finished the bike with a 13-minute lead over Gordon Haller.
Haller was a faster marathon runner, but his 3:30 marathon split included numerous rubdowns from his support crew to fight the cramping that stopped him at various stages of the run. He caught Dunbar at 17, 20 and 21 miles, but had “rubdown and rest stops at the 17- and 20-mile marks, allowing Dunbar to stay with him, then finally went ahead to stay at 21.”
Haller would cruise away over those last five miles to firmly place himself in IRONMAN history. Dunbar finished second, ahead of Dave Orlowski.
Dave returned to Kona to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that first race and has competed in numerous races since. But that is not the full story….Dave has traveled all over the world since that 1st Ironman and has become one of the sports most dedicated goodwill ambassadors. He has inspired, counseled and personally cheered for hundreds of athletes around the world.
Dave and I were stationed together in the USMC in the late 1970’s. Many years later he pushed and prodded me into the sport of triathlon and it has changed my life. Through his encouragement over the years, I was able to move from Sprint, Olympic, Half and finally my 1st full Ironman event at the age of 61. Dave has done this for me and countless others as a means of sharing his special love and passion with anyone who will listen. His is a life worth reading, knowing and learning about. The narrative of his life continues to grow as he struggles through a myriad of physical, medical and emotional challenges. In the meantime I will hone my skills as a writer in the hope that I will meet the challenge of putting this epic journey to print.
Clips from the Honolulu Advertister, Feb. 19, 1978
Original IRONMAN Finishers:
Gordon Haller 11:46:40
John Dunbar 12:20:27
Dave Orlowski 13:59:13
Ian D. Emberson 14:03:25
Sterling F. Lewis 14:04:35
Tom Knoll 14:45:11
Henry Forrest 15:30:14
Frank Day 16:38:31
John Collins 17:00:38
Archie Hapai 17:24:22
Dan Hendrickson 20:03:28
12. Harold Irving 21:00:38