Toward an alternative to the virtual museum concept: Collective memory and the search for an inclusive approach to digital triathlon history making

Jane E. Hunt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Modern triathlon originated in San Diego in 1974. It transitioned from multisport novelty to global sporting movement after an event colloquially known as the Hawaiian Ironman gained worldwide attention in the early 1980s. The ultradistance triathlon consolidated into a commercial entity, while another arm of the sport embraced Olympism. Both the Ironman and Olympic arms of the sport promoted a collective memory of triathlon that suited their respective claims to authenticity. In the process, they rendered the individual and collective memory of early everyday proponents of the sport irrelevant. When I set out to write an inclusive history of triathlon in Australia, I discovered a deeper and more complex triathlon memory in the form of oral traditions and dispersed historical records held by what one nostalgic Facebook group referred to as "The Old Hands." In this paper, I reflect on the critical triathlon memory presented by the "Old Hands" and look for ways to escape acts of memory that center on these competing claims to authenticity. As part of my search for a suitable model for an inclusive digital triathlon archive that might facilitate the emergence of alternate narratives, I examine the notion of the fragment, as it relates to individual memory, historical records, and digital content, and the potential that participatory digital mechanisms hold for inducing diverse acts of social memory; and explore the possibility that a geospatial mechanism may provide an effective visual and organizational tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-305
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Sport History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


Cite this