There are many athletes who rightly or wrongly wear the moniker “legend.” One man that truly deserves that title is six-time Ironman world champion Dave Scott. Dave has made his annual trip to the Events DC Nation’s Triathlon, where he will be following the progress of the Leukemia & Lumphoma Society’s Team In Training (which he coaches). We caught up with Dave to talk coaching, Vegas and the Ironman World Championship.
Triathlete: What are you doing at the Nation’s Triathlon?
Scott: Well I’m the national coach for Team In Training. I’ve come out to the Nation’s Tri since its inception—obviously T-in-T has been a big part of the race. We’ve had up to 700 athletes—206 this year—and they’ve raised a boatload of money. It’s the Nation’s capital and a big event.
Triathlete: How did you get involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?
Scott: I was asked in 1999 if I would be the national coach. At the time I had no idea what that meant and what it would entail for the next 14 years. So I fell into the position because people knew me in the sport and they said “you’re coaching, you might be a good candidate.” So I’ve been involved with coaching the coaches.
Triathlete: It’s a big weekend in triathlon. We’ve got the Ironman 70.3 World Championship going on—care to make any predictions?
Scott: We have a lot of athletes in Boulder and so many of them left in the last day to go to Boulder. Tim O’Donnell, Joe Gambles, Greg Bennett and a whole slew of women. The 70.3 races have become extraordinarily fast—the ITU guys are stepping up.
The course in Vegas is a fair course. It’s a tough ride and the conditions will be hot, but not extremely hot. So it will be a good equalizer. I would hate to see a large pack on the bike and it all comes down to the run. I can’t imagine Sebastian Kienle will get away like he did last year. He’s a brilliant athlete and it was a great strategy that worked. I’d be surprised if that happened again, though.
I don’t want to make a prediction—there are too many good athletes.
Triathlete: How are the ITU guys changing long course racing?
Scott: I always felt that the best athletes were the ones that came from that Olympic distance. They have a huge top end. It can be difficult for them to prove their merit immediately over a 180km bike and a marathon on the end, but what I think we’re seeing these ITU athletes step up.
Craig Alexander was an Olympic-distance athlete and a great example—he had great speed and great top end. That won’t transfer to everyone, but when you see the influx of these guys who can do 29 minutes on the run we’re going to see them step up to the halfs and then they’ll start doing more Ironman events.
To this day the runs in Ironman are still slow. Compared to way back when, when Mark and I were racing, the talent now supersedes what I was doing in a 10K, but getting off in an Ironman… a lot of the guys should be running 2:33 and 2:34 in Kona and they haven’t done it yet. So I’m waiting for a nucleus of athletes to make that breakthrough.
Triathlete: Why do you think that is?
Scott: I don’t have a crystal ball. I work with a lot of athletes in Boulder and nobody is symmetrical—they usually have one dominant side and one weak side. So they get a little niggling issue with their back or hip flexors. They don’t have the strength. So they’re able to ride the 180km but then in the first 5km of the run it’s dismantled. There are guys who can’t even run 4mins/km and you think ‘why not?’
I think a lot of them don’t do the proper strength training through the whole year—it’s really seasonal. So they don’t have that core strength. And a lot of athletes I’ve seen over the years have gross imbalances in their glute strength—it’s terrible. The athletes I get my hands on are put on a strength program and it makes a world of difference.
Triathlete: Craig Alexander – can he still win?
Scott: He’s still got it. In previous years he’s gone overboard. I chat to him a lot and chat about his program. I think it’s been good that he had a third child because that broke up his routine. He’s a bit pathological on doing too much and he has had years when he’s done too much going into Kona.
But he’s in good shape right now. He’s had a tight hip flexor, but is doing good body work. I think going into Kona he’s in a lot better situation than he was last year. He had a shocking race last year (for him) and it wasn’t one he wanted to end on, so he’s still in the hunt.
Triathlete: So, a prediction for Kona?
Scott: Wow. It’s very, very difficult. I’ve worked with Eneko Llanos since December and on paper people will say there’s nobody that has rivaled him—he’s had some great races. But yet he knows that you want to keep this last five weeks where you’re injury free so you go into the race feeling pretty whole. Craig Alexander is another. Andreas Raelert is hungry to win, but the German contingent is strong; Kienle can turn on his engine. And you have to go with Pete Jacobs too—he ran pretty easily last year. There are seven guys who can win this race.
A few of the Europeans have had difficulty in the warmer weather and so you look historically and see whether they are getting faster off the bike. I always look at that in Kona. It’s not a bike race. I think a lot of people think they have to ride 4:18 on the bike to win the race. But I don’t believe that’s the race—it’s always the run.
Triathlete: Finally, when do you think we’ll see an American winner of Kona?
Scott: (Laughs) Wow. Um. Nothing against the American talent. I just feel like we’re not developing the youth like they do in other countries. So we’re getting guys who are a little further along and it’s taking longer to develop their skill set.
But maybe in a few years we’ll watch Drew Scott win it.
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