18 February 1978

Anniversaries, I fear,
Are hard to count. It’s rarely clear
How many years have been amassed
Since something happened in the past.
The ordinal’s what’s problematic.
People often give me static
When I say, “You’re nine today?
Well, have an awesome tenth birthday!”
But, think about it: When you’re one
Your second year of life’s begun
And, likewise, on the day you’re two
It’s birthday number three for you.
Remember, you were zero on
Your first birthday; so forth, so on.
The anniversary, however,
Varies from the year, well, never:
When you’re married for a year
You celebrate the first one. Clear?
It’s sports events that need the most
Assistance here. They’ll raise a toast
To ten years running, and they’ll claim
Their tenth event is just the same
As their tenth annniversary.
That’s simply an absurdity!
Let’s say the first’s in ’91.
In ’92 the next one’s run.
That’s number two, right? Check the date:
Two/’92. We’ll keep that straight
Without a problem, both have “two”
Right at the end. It’s hard to screw
The math up that way, right? Let’s see,
Now what’s the anniversary?
The second? No! It’s just the first!
How ’bout the next year? We’ve rehearsed
This sequence, so I know you know it:
Third race, two years in. Don’t blow it…
Second anniversary?
That’s it! You’ve got it! Follow me
On down the years to twenty-twelve’s
Edition…talk amongst yourselves…
It ends in two…how many races?
Twenty-two! They tied their laces
For the tenth in Y2K
(Ninth anniversary), then they
Did twenty in two thousand ten.
Which anniversary was then?
That’s right: The 19th! You’re on fire!
All right, if you’re asking, “Why’re
We discussing math so late?”
The answer is that on this date
Just 39 short years ago
Was born the sport we all now know
As Ironman Triathlon:
18 February, on
A chilly beach in Waikiki,
Two people very dear to me
Debuted the race they co-created.
Though over time the tale was freighted
With testosterone and ego,
That’s not what we see when we go
Back in time to seven-eight
Where Judy and her handsome mate
(My daddy, John) shot off the gun
For Iron Man Triathlon One.
That’s one year short of forty. Any
Guesses on the count? Jack Benny
Would have gotten this one wrong
‘Cause he refused to move along
Past 39, but there’s a twist:
An extra race threw off the list
In ’82, when they raced twice
October’s when the weather’s nice
More often than it’s not, so they
Ran number six the Saturday
That came the nearest that full moon.
Sixth race, fifth year, no wonder soon
The ordinal got lost to time!
I only keep it straight ’cause I’m
A sibling of the race itself
(We share our parents). I was twelfth
The second year (read also: last;
I’m known for going long, not fast).
So, Happy Anniversary
To Ironman! Your brother, Me.


2 thoughts on “18 February 1978

  1. Thank you, Michael. Until now I have been counting the years of triathlon on my fingers.

    What number should we use to denote an annual event? You wrote about the birthday year of Ironman (1978). The example I use is the birthday year of the Portobelo Triathlon (1998). I recall that John said to me on my 39th birthday, in February 1978, “Welcome to your 40th year!”

    During the 20th Anniversary year of the Ironman Triathlon John and I started another triathlon here in Panamá. The first year of the Portobelo Triathlon was 1998.

    The 20th Portobelo Triathlon (PTRI) will be in 2017, on 23 April.
    The 21st Portobelo Triathlon will be in 2018, next year.
    The 20th Anniversary of PTRI will be in 2018!
    The 20th Birthday of PTRI will be in 2018!

    Come on down to Panamá for the 20th PTRI, this year, or for the 20th Anniversary PTRI, next year.

    (= celebración) es la tercera edición de este festival this is the third occasion on which this festival has been held”

  2. Gracias, Michael. Hasta ahora he estado contando los años de triatlón en mis dedos.

    ¿Qué número debemos usar para denotar un evento anual? Usted escribió sobre el cumpleaños de Ironman (1978). El ejemplo que utilizo es el año del cumpleaños del Triatlón Portobelo (1998). Recuerdo que Juan me dijo en mi 39 cumpleaños, en febrero de 1978, “¡Bienvenido a tu 40 ° año!”

    Durante el vigésimo aniversario del Triatlón Ironman, John y yo iniciamos otro triatlón aquí en Panamá. El primer año del Triatlón Portobelo fue 1998.

    El XX Triatlón Portobelo (PTRI) se celebrará en 2017, el 23 de abril.
    El XXI Triatlón Portobelo será en 2018, el próximo año.
    El 20 aniversario de PTRI será en 2018!
    ¡El 20º cumpleaños de PTRI será en 2018!

    Venga a Panamá para el 20º PTRI, este año, o para el 20º Aniversario PTRI, el próximo año.

    Edición …
    (= Celebración) es la tercera edición de este festival esta es la tercera ocasión en que este festival se ha celebrado “

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