Friday, January 30, 2015

Welcome to 2015 ... Our 35th Anniversary

Thirty-five years is a long time to do anything, but in the industry of “lifestyle sports” it pretty much spans the entire history. I get asked often how Pacific Sports became a business. To quote Hemingway, “Gradually, then suddenly.” Few of us who were participating in the sports of running, swimming, cycling, and eventually triathlons early thought of it as anything but fun and something we liked to do together.  Making money or a living at it was simply not even a thought. Pacific Sports started even earlier (as Pacific Sports Management) when I started helping out on events while I was in graduate school.  It is time to give some perspective and tidbits, stories, and fun on our history while also presenting a monthly look at our 2015 events, business and perspective.    

So, how did it all start?  I went to school at UC Irvine on a small golf and academic scholarship. I was lucky enough to play on some great teams including an NCAA Championship and got a great education. I started running when I was an undergraduate because I would become really tired during our golf tournaments.  Many of the college tournaments were 36 holes in one day and somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-10 miles of walking over 10-12 hours. I would become pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. One of the team docs suggested two things — doing pushups to develop some arm strength (golfers pretty much never lifted weights in those days) and running to get my legs in shape.  So I did.  I use to run barefoot at Crawford Field and at the beach (I lived on Balboa Island.  I used to tell myself it would never get better than this.  It didn’t.)  After a few weeks, I could really tell the difference and I like the feeling.   And it became part of my routine. UCI was great because all of the athletes interacted together.  I had friends and roommates in baseball, water polo, tennis, basketball, and tennis in my time there and we all shared the same locker room.

Fast forward to 1978.   I had become friends with Randy Howatt and Pete Siracusa who started the Rusty Pelican and Ancient Mariner Restaurants in Newport Beach. I hung out a lot at their restaurants—great food, some beautiful women worked there and of course, my friends ran the place.  The decision was made to start a triathlon that year. Mainly for fun but also as a competition against the other restaurants in Newport Beach including Cask & Cleaver, Five Crowns, Chart House, Reuben E. Lee, El Torito and more. And hence, the “Ancient Mariner & Rusty Pelican Human Race Triathlon” was started in the Back Bay of Newport. It started with a mass start bike, followed by a run and the finish was a swim at the Newport Dunes. It rained that morning but later cleared up into a beautiful day. There were bike crashes because the road was too thin for that many bikes but in the end it was damn fun just to do it.  Most people did relays but there was also an “IronMan” competition (yes, it was called that) for individual athletes.  

A few years later while I was working on a PhD, I ended up volunteering to work on the annual race because the restaurants had become a chain around the U.S. and I sort of was in the right (or wrong) place when the discussion came up on being the point person.  Little did I know this would be a fork in the road of my life and the beginning of Pacific Sports.  More to come in February …