Outside magazine, September 1997
For the younger racers at last spring's Columbia Triathlon, it was as startling as a 20-year-old rookie stepping into the batter's box against Nolan Ryan: There, awaiting the race's start with the wetsuited hoi polloi, was six-time Hawaii Ironman winner Dave Scott. Forty-three-year-old, hobbled Dave Scott. "Can you believe it?" harrumphs Scott, reeling at the indignity. "They started us — the Legends — in the same wave as the kids with acne."
So much for that respect-for-your-elders business. Indeed, things aren't going exactly as planned for the so-called Legends of Triathlon series, added to four of this season's bigger races and open to any male age 40 or over, as well as to any under-40 athlete who can convince the Legends "committee" — specifically, 40-year-old two-time Ironman winner Scott Tinley — that his is a storied multisport past. The object is to allow triathlon's creaky heroes a second opportunity at money and glory, as well as to give flagging U.S. interest in the sport (it's now full of faceless Germans and second-tier Americans) a shot in the triceps. But sadly, heading into this month's "World Championship" in Pacific Grove, California, it seems legendary triathletes are harder to come by than one might think.
"The idea is to get the series on a level with seniors golf or masters tennis," says Terry Davis, race director for the Pacific Grove event and one of the initiators of the Legends gambit, which has been passed over by, among others, former three-time Olympic road cyclist and 1981 Hawaii Ironman winner John Howard, six-time national cross-country mountain-bike champion Ned Overend, 1980s short-course maven Scott Molina, and most disappointingly, 39-year-old six-time Ironman king Mark Allen. "Unfortunately," says Davis. "there aren't many other 40-year-olds to ask."
Of course, other than letting Father Time increase the roll of potential legends, the best way to rectify the feeble response might be to fatten the series's slim purse. Whereas golfer Graham Marsh took home $232,500 for winning the 1997 U.S. Senior Open, Tinley, for clinching all three of this year's Legends races, has pocketed just $6,000. Still, while Scott struggles and whines and the others keep to the sidelines, triathlon's poster boy of enthusiasm goes about his business, sounding genuinely thankful for the unexpected windfall. "Hey, I'm just glad I can continue to look at the sport as my profession," says Tinley, eyeing the $4,000 payday he'll reap for sweeping the series with a victory in Pacific Grove. "I mean, you know, at least the winnings have covered my bar tab."