In track and field, there are traditionally 20 events. However, why men practice only 10 events (Decathlon) and women practice only 7 events (Heptathlon).
In 1981, the city of Helsinki (Finland) prepared to organize the 1st IAAF World Championships in Athletics for August 1983. During this preparation, the Finnish decathlete Risto Karasmaa had an idea : why not to combine all athletics events in the same competition ? He asked to his club (Helsingin Tarmo) to organize a 20-events combined and they were agreed. Thus, the 1st Icosathlon was organized the 26th and 27th of September 1981 in the Eläintarha stadium of Helsinki. Nine men started but only five finished this competition. The 1st Icosathlon’s winner was the Finnish Aro Kari with 9’557 points (Results).
Next year, 13 men started and 11 finished. These two first competitions had only a local status.
In 1983, the competition was in the national calendar and there was also the 1st women’s Tetradecathlon. The 1st Tetradecathlon’s winner was the Finnish Terttu Rissanen with 6’954 points.
In 1990, for the 10th competition, the 1st World Championships were organized in Espoo (FIN). The 1st World Champions were the famous Estonian Indrek Kaseorg with 12’879 points and the British Charmaine Johnson with 9’152 points.
In 1992, the 1st competition outside of Finland was organized in Germany ; in Freiberg am Neckar. Icosathlon and Tetradecathlon became know in Central Europe. Afterwards, there was some competitions in Czech Republic (Ostrava 1993) and in Great Britain (Hexham 1999).
In 2000, the 11th World Championships were organized outside of Finland : in Hexham (GBR).
2002 was an extraordinary year with a competition in the USA (Charleston, SC) and in Australia (Melbourne). The 13th World Championships of Turku (FIN) were sensational with two world records in the senior categories. The famous American Kip Janvrin won the Icosathlon with 14’185 points then the Finnish Milla Kelo won the Tetradecathlon with 10’798 points!
2003 was very important with the founding of the International Association for Ultra Multievents (IAUM). It was formally founded the 3th of October 2003, during the 14th World Championships of Sankt Pölten (AUT).
In January 2005, the IAUM continues to grow with the creation of a website (www.icosathlon.net) by the tireless and invaluable Risto Karasmaa.
Two years later, the 1st indoor competition was held the 29th and 30th of March 2007 in Vienna (AUT). It was a Tetradecathlon during two days and the men’s winner was the Australian David Purdon with 8’073 points. Two days later (1st April 2007 in Helsinki), the Finnish Anna Karrila was the first women’s winner with 5’269 points.
The IAUM’s founder Risto Karasmaaa updated statistics since 1981 (!) and in 2007 he passed the baton to the Swiss Cédric Bouele. Therefore, everything is published on a new website : http://www.icosathlon.com
In September 2009, the 20th IAUM World Championships of Delft (NED) was a real success with 62 athletes (49 men & 13 women). Unfortunately, the World Cup was canceled due to lack of sufficient competition.
2010 was a very good year with one indoor competition and five outdoor competitions including the World Championships held in Lynchburg (USA). During this 21th edition, 43 world records by events were improved with a record in the main category (14’571 points by the American decathlete Joseph Detmer) and in the M60 age group (12’793 by his compatriot Brant Tolsma).
IAUM continues to grow…
Icosathlon or Double Decathlon?
There are several names to describe the 20- & 14-events combined. In the 1980’s, the name was ”Super Multievents”. In the 1990’s, the names were ”Double Decathlon” & ”Double Heptathlon”. They are still used today except in Japan where it is : ”Psychoathlon”. It is ”Ultramehrkampf” or ”Zwanzig-Kampf” in German, ”Twintig-Kamp” in Dutch, ”Kaksikymmentä-Ottelu” in Finnish and ”Icosathlon” in French.
There is a lot of different names to describe the Ultra Multievents.
Finally, what is the most appropriate name to use ?
Heptathlon & Decathlon are names from Greek. Hepta is a Greek prefix that means seven & Deca means ten :
1 : mono 11 : hendeca
2 : di 12 : dodeca
3 : tri 13 : triskaideca
4 : tetra 14 : tetrakaideca or tetradeca
5 : penta 15 : pentakaideca or pentadeca
6 : hexa 16 : hexakaideca or hexadeca
7 : hepta 17 : heptakaideca
8 : octa 18 : octakaideca
9 : ennea 19 : enneakaideca
10 : deca 20 : icosa
The Olympics Decathlon & Heptathlon events combined are famous and their events are know. Saying ”Double Decathlon” & ”Double Heptathlon”, there is a chance to understand ”Two times-Decathlon” & ”Two times-Heptathlon” by the same events. But that is not it. Icosathlon & Tetradecathlon are not yet well-known and for create their own identity, an unique name seems more appropriate.