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  • Writer's pictureBennett Endurance

Dave Scott - 6 x Ironman World Champion, "The God Father of the sport of Triathlon"

Podcast Name: BE with Champions

Episode Name: Dave Scott

In this episode of BE With Champions, Greg Bennett welcomes American triathlete Dave Scott. Greg calls Dave the “godfather, pioneer, and early adopter” of the triathlon sport. Indeed, Dave influenced the sport immensely, obliterating the previous world record in his first Ironman race. Before Dave entered the sport, triathlons were not very common, and were an emerging sport in which there was no money to be made. Triathlons were considered a test of endurance, and Dave changed that mindset, viewing them as a race that he intended to – and often did – win. Dave is a six-time Ironman World Champion, winning the Hawaii race in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987. He was the first inductee into the Ironman Hall of Fame in 1993.

Dave was always a sportsman. Growing up in a warm part of California, he began swimming at an early age, but never found himself a very talented swimmer. In high school, he played football and basketball, dabbled in golf, and excelled in water polo, which he continued to play through college. As a college student, he also began to run, and found that the multiple daily workouts required for water polo were much easier for him than for his classmates. He found that he had a talent for endurance sports and did his first triathlon in 1976. The early triathlon was mayhem; the police hadn’t blocked off any streets, and he remembers throwing his bike down in the road and grabbing shoes from his car for the run. The water for the swim was freezing, and none of the contestants even wore wetsuits. The first Ironman took place in 1978, and, after reading about it, Dave decided to compete in 1980. He took the world title that year and broke the world record – previously over 11 hours – by finishing in a little over nine hours. In that 1980 race, which began with the swim, he remembers winning the swim and not seeing anyone else for the remainder of the race. Dave’s tactic was not to pace himself, but just to go for it with everything he had. This was a strategy that continued to prove successful for him in the following years.

When Dave decided to pursue a career as a professional triathlete, the Ironman did not offer any prize money, and there were few companies willing to sponsor triathletes. In 1982, he signed his first contract with Nike, who paid him $6,000. He also won $500 per race in the Anheuser-Busch-sponsored series, and, even with that small income, felt like he was on top of the world. He raced and won four Ironman’s before he won prize money; a Hawaii local put up $10,000 for his fifth Ironman, a cash prize which he took home. Even at the end of Dave’s career, prize money was still limited. In his penultimate Ironman, he won $16,000 for 2nd place, which was his largest check yet. Now, triathlon prizes range from $5,000 to $500,000, largely thanks to Dave, who brought attention to the sport.

In this episode, Dave and Greg discuss nutrition and diet extensively. Dave shares his thoughts on the vegan diet, and warns against it, saying it is “a big mistake” for athletes. Because vegans don’t get the level of Omega-3 needed (the conversion of plant-based Omega-3s is very small), they can suffer from brain and organ issues. Endurance athletes also need a high level of iron, which a vegan diet cannot supplement. Dave and Greg reflect on past health fads; when Dave was in the height of his career, high-carb diet was the go-to for athletes. Now, experts suggest a higher-fat diet, which Dave thinks would have helped his health when he was a professional triathlete and his health as his aged. The two also discuss the benefits of intermittent fasting, Hot and Cold therapies and how they keep up their health as they grow older.

Dave reflects on his lack of a team when he started out in the sport. He relied on his family, which was his “pillar of support,” but didn’t have a coach or mentor, which he regrets. Since the sport was just beginning, there weren’t many other professional triathletes to learn from, and he wishes he had benefited from the support that he now sees other triathletes utilizing. Today, though a retired triathlete, Dave continues to coach others, and manages the Dave Scott Tri Club. The club includes four 12-week programs and two webinars a month, which are designed to help triathletes get to the top of their game. Mindset is so important, Dave iterates, and it is imperative to pull yourself out of negativity during a race. With his record-breaking, trend-setting career, Dave was truly a pioneer in the sport of triathlon and continues to make an impact on the triathletes of today.

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Instagram: @davescott6x

For more information on the Dave Scott Tri Club, visit:

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