Henry Forrest, one of the original 15 men who started the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii back in 1978 has passed away (Thursday, November 6, 2008). He was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in August of 2007. Henry went on to compete in five more Ironman World Championship events, the last in 2004 when he was 61.
"I had the honor to be one of the 15 men who ran the first Ironman Triathlon in 1978. I feel privileged to have been at the right place and at the right time to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s laughable how little training I had going into that event, and little did we know that it would be the birth of a new craze – the beginning of extreme sports! Some of those 15 men are good friends of mine, and I treasure those friendships. - Henry Forrest"
Forrest retired from the US Marine Corps with 20 years of service. He taught Boot Camp classes at the Colony Square Athletic Club in Atlanta, and served on the neighborhood watch team for Wisteria Place Subdivision in Grayson, GA. He is a former Police Officer in Kennesaw, GA and a Vietnam Veteran.
I had the pleasure of meeting Henry Forrest this past October in Hawaii at the Ironman World Championship race, which just happened to be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Ironman. What a nice guy. He was at the finish line in the bleachers section watching the finish. I really didn't know who he was at the time but I had an idea since he had VIP credentials. I introduced myself and ask him if he was one of the original ironman competitors, he said yes. We spent the next 10-15 minutes just chit-chatting about the race 30 year ago and how things have changed since then. We joked about how different the finish line is today compared to when he did the race. He was also there to cheer on Dave Orlowski, one of the other competitors back in 1978 who was racing the 30th Anniversary race.
I'm glad I had the chance to congratulate him 30 years later for pioneering this crazy sporting event we now participate in.
May you rest in peace Henry...
Henry Forrest, Original 1978 Ironman interviews by Frank Day
Here are some articles related to Henry Forrest:
- "How I Became an Ironman – My 1978 Recollections" By Henry Forrest [via Try-A-Tri]
- Original Ironman Henry Forrest [via Slowtwitch.com]
- Dave Orlowski remembers Henry Forrest [via Ironman.com]
Henry ran a Motivational Ironman Inspirational T-shirt company / website called Try-A-Tri.com The goal of this site is to promote, support and encourage the sport of triathlon. We hope you’ll find our products to be motivational.