Derby Triathlon Club

When Ash met The Man... the story of a very surreal weekend at the 220 awards!

The email began like this...."Dear Non, Jack, Ashley, Ian and Alan..." Alarm bells began to ring in my mental spam filter before I even started reading the first paragraph, because, why would I be receiving an email being sent to such triathlon luminaries as world champion Non Stanford, The Brownlee’s coach - Jack Maitland, Ian Hamilton - organiser of big iconic races such as the Outlaw ironman, Vitruvian half ironman and the National Relays, and a bloke called Alan...?

The first line then read..."Congratulations, you have been nominated in the 'outstanding contribution to triathlon' category in this years 220 magazine awards...etc etc". This definitely was a spam email to get me to go to the triathlon show, it wasn’t real, just an advertising gimmick, nobody had asked or even told me about anything like this...my mind was made up. I then went onto the next email, I forget what it was now, but more than likely from club chairman Chris touting for runners in another cross-country race.

The days went by, and just by chance I went onto the club website as I do every couple of weeks to keep up to date with happenings...scrolling down the page I glimpsed the Twitter links....the usual stuff scrolled past, new photo, check this out, new event, then "Congratulations to Ashley on being nominated in this years 220 awards...." the words glared at me from the Punishing Events Twitter...my blood ran cold, what the hell was this all about!?

A couple of txt messages later put me straight...yes, id been stitched up for my services to the club and the sport!

A frantic half hour had me emailing 220 confirming my attendance, surfing the net, checking out times and dates and trying to just fathom out what the heck was happening to me!

The awards were to take place on the Saturday evening of the weekend of the triathlon show, organised by 220 magazine, and as a nominee I was to receive two free tickets for the awards dinner; sounded good to me, this is probably the only awards dinner I would be invited to as a nominee, as my athletic ability (apart from a couple of flashes (or flukes) of brilliance many years previously) has definitely been middle of the pack..and slipping further back each year!

Looking through the shows exhibitors online and seeing which talks would interest me my eyes stopped and froze at the words...Dave Scott will be attending the triathlon show....Holy $&*@...The Man!

This was the best chance I was ever going to get to meet one of my sporting heroes and I certainly wasn't going to be missing this opportunity!

Now then, for those of you of a certain age and with a certain longevity in this sport will know instantly who Dave Scott is. For the younger ones and new people to this sport I will inform you.

Dave was the worlds number one ironman competitor throughout the 1980's, he won 6 Hawaii ironman titles, and finished runner up three times. The words icon and legend are sometimes over used nowadays, but in this case they are rightfully deserved. His ironman triumphs are legendary, and in 1989 in Japan he held the worlds best ironman time of 8.01.59.

However, his most famous race was one he came second in. The 1989 Hawaii race has now been labelled 'The Ironwar'...imagine it being said by a deep voiced Hollywood movie trailer voice over artist, rather than a native of north Derbyshire, sounds better doesn’t it!

Dave and Mark Allen swam, rode and ran the whole race only feet apart, Mark Allen watched Dave’s every move, until a couple of miles from the finish he made his move and ran on to take the title, the story is on YouTube if you look for it.

During the mid 80's in the days before 220 I can recall leafing through the glossy US magazine Triathlete in WH Smiths reading about these epic races and its leading participants, if your name didn’t have Scott in it your were a nobody; Scott Tinley, Scott Molina and Dave Scott ruled Hawaii in this period, Mark Allen continued the US domination until the Aussies and Europeans began to upset the party in the mid 90's.

Dave was given the nickname 'The Man', he was the man to beat.

It is a year of anniversaries this year...220 magazine celebrates its 25th year this year, and it will be 30 years this April, as a spotty 14 year old, that I became a racing cyclist, pinning my first numbers onto my back to race as a junior back in 1984. It will also be 25 years ago in May, that as a spotty 19 year old I first donned a pair of goggles and became a triathlete, entering my first two races at Heanor and Mansfield.

220 began in May 1989, the year of the Ironwar race; I first came across 220 in February 1990, issue 10 - an Ironman special, pictures and stories from the greats of the 80's with a large multi page spread on Dave Scott. I religiously had the magazine every month for almost 18 years; until I had a big clear out on eBay - they all sold! But I always kept hold of that first issue I ever had, and now, it was time to get it out and meet The Man!

On a sunny first Saturday afternoon in March the good lady wife Jane and I pulled into a packed car park at Sandown racecourse in Surrey and headed into the exhibition halls. The place was packed; stands selling all kinds of product to make you go 5 seconds quicker, carbon this, carbon that, eat this, drink that, wear this, wear that, do this race, train like this not like that. Wandering the aisles I was bombarded with freebies that you either ate, drank, rubbed in or read - good job I had a free gym bag of freebies thrust at me to carry it all in!

Jane went all giddy at the thought of meeting Olympic decathlete Daley Thompson on the Human Race stand, he apparently adorned her bedroom wall in the early 80's! He was there to promote an event he was fronting.

Over the past 25 years I have met and befriended a lot of people in this fine sport of ours, and a number of them were here selling their wares, old fellow athletes, coaches and race organisers all quite happy to shake hands, catch up and spend time chatting about the good old days. Now there is one person I’ve known since day one of me becoming a triathlete, well known in triathlon circles and someone who has supported DTC wherever he has worked, and that is Dean, more commonly known nowadays as the founder of the Huub wetsuit empire. Dean sold me my first running shoes back in 1989 while he worked at the Derby Runner and was the person that finally got me to come down to the club in the first place in February 1990. Dean has been in the running, cycling and swimming trade a very long time; in the past he's worked for Brooks, Asics, a stint in the US with Litespeed, and Blueseventy, he knows the business.

The Huub stand was buzzing, Dave Scott was due to make a return to the stand after his lecture. Chatting with Dean I showed him my old 220, his eyes opened like a kid in a sweet shop, Dave’s just got to see this he said! Dean came back a few minutes later, accompanied by the legendary Mr Scott. The queue at the signing desk was long, but Dean ushered him to where I was standing with the words, Dave id like you to meet a very old friend, he then went on to say who I was...my god, I had a personal introduction to a living legend! We shook hands and chatted for almost ten minutes about the club, racing, his past and present activities, and why I was down there in the first place. Show him the mag Ash, said Dean...The Man was speechless seeing the old pictures of him in full flight...oh my, that’s errr old! He got his pen out and duly signed the spread of pictures. After a quick photo we parted company and Dave went back to the scrum of signings and photo snaps; the queue contained men of a certain age, not unlike myself, giddy at the prospect of meeting a true sporting icon from their younger days.

Two hours later, after finding the luxurious Holiday Inn two miles down the road and a change into something posh, we returned back to the racecourse for the awards dinner. There was a champagne reception, and the fizzy stuff was flowing very freely! Again meeting old faces from years gone by and carrying on conversations with some from the afternoon. One person stuck out; I looked at him, he looked at me, Its Steve isn’t it? I said, shaking hands with Steve Trew, BBC triathlon commentator, ex national coach, and my coaching tutor on the old level 1 and 2 in the mid 90's...let me think, he said...Derby tri club wasn’t it, now I remember...my god, this man must have a photographic memory! We had a good old chinwag about the old days and his commentating. Steve came up to the club in probably 1997 (not certain on that one!) and gave us a coaching session and a talk, very informative and very inspiring. This man was a visionary, and he predicted what the sport was going to be like in the future at the elite end, and his words have stayed with me for the past 17 or so years.

In the old days, an elite championship triathlon was non drafting, and more than likely to be on a straight out and back course or a big single loop, and if you finished a few minutes under two hours for an Olympic distance you were considered pretty good. Steve predicted on that Thursday night that elite championships would be raced over city centre multi lap courses, lined with crowds, mass TV audiences, and the winners times would come down to about 1hr 45, nahhh we all said, no chance...who was right then!

We were all ushered upstairs into the posh suite overlooking the racecourse and found our tables, not knowing anyone on our table we did the rounds of hi I'm Ash, etc etc, it turned out that each one of the couples was up for an award in different categories, so we all had plenty to chat about during the evening! After nice food and plenty of free flowing wine, but sadly no pudding to the dismay of the northerners in the room, Jonny Brownlee's stand-in who collected his award said it all and got the biggest cheer of the night for his "Where's the pudding?!"

It was time for speeches...

First up was snooker legend Dennis Taylor, who gave a very funny half hour talk about his life walking around a twelve foot green table, more stand up comedian than after dinner speaker! Then up stood Dave Scott to what can only be described as tumultuous welcome from the tables, who went on to give a insight into his sporting life, and went on to confess he didn’t understand hardly a word that Dennis Taylor had said! He did mention however about a chap had brought an old magazine for him to sign with him looking fast and fit and he’s in here tonight...! He also mentioned that he recently turned 60, which brought the house down, his tanned features don’t look a day over 45!

Then it was awards time...

The East Midlands were quite well represented, TFN winning best shop, One Step Beyond winning best race for the Outlaw, Ashbourne Duathlon missed out in the small event category, Deans Huub won best wetsuit, and one by one on my table all the nominees fell slightly short of the glory of getting up to be given a trophy by Dave Scott. My category was the last one...outstanding contribution to triathlon. This had puzzled me for the past month, why me? I could name people in the same position as me, but as I was told by one of my possible nominees (I'm still trying to find out who the rest of you are who nominated me by the way!) I have apparently given up more time, probably 1000's of hours either supporting, coaching, marshalling and organising than I realise, and all voluntarily, and probably lost more money doing it, just for the love of the sport. It's not until somebody actually tells you why then you begin to realise, why not me?

The nominees were read out, just like the Oscars! A cheer went up from each of the respective tables...my name was last and got the biggest cheer as our table were relying on my win to bring at least one trophy to the table, and people I'd met previously in the day put in their support, plus a knowing smirk off the legendary ironman. Sadly it was not to be, Alan from Mersey Tri took the award for his 25 years of efforts in his area, coupled with a battle against illness he proved a worthy recipient. Our table returned to the free wine to console our losses.

Then it was party all night till the early hours, Dave Scott made his way around the room, shaking hands and having photos with all, then finally greeted me with a handshake and a "Hard luck Ash, you got the biggest cheer though I noticed!"

I would just like to say thank you very much to whoever instigated this whole nomination, thank you to the people that knew about it and who’s votes counted towards me getting to the final five. Thank you to all members of DTC past and present who I have supported, coached and marshalled for over the past 25 years, here’s to 25 more!

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