In 1980, Dave Scott went to the island of Oahu to race the third ever Ironman Triathlon. In both 1978 and 1979, there were 15 starters and 12 finishers. After an article on the event appeared in Sports Illustrated in the spring of 1979, the number of entries ballooned up to 108 in 1980, which would be the last year the event was held on Oahu.
Dave Scott was an unknown that day in February of 1980, but after ABC’s Wide World of Sports showcased Dave’s journey around the island of Oahu where he led the entire day and broke the existing course record by nearly two hours, that changed pretty quickly.
In many sports, the winners from the early years quickly become yesterday’s news as faster athletes bypass the trailblazers.
Not Dave Scott. He was the Roger Bannister of triathlon. Over the next 16 years he won five more Ironman World Championship titles, became the first athlete to go under 3:00 hours for the Ironman marathon, then the first to go under 2:55 and the first to go under 2:50.
He was also the first person to go under 10 hours, 9 hours and 8:30 in Kona.
Dave continued to push the limits of what the human body could do at the Ironman when he and Mark Allen, on October 14, 1989, had a race for the ages where they were never more than a few feet apart from each other for over 138 miles.
That race is known simply as IRONWAR, a term I coined after having the privilege of watching Dave Scott and Mark Allen simply destroy Dave’s course record, which he’d set in 1986.
Dave went 8:10:13 that day and broke his course record by over 18 minutes. He ran a 2:41:03 marathon, which was over eight minutes faster that his run course record. Mark Allen earned his first Ironman victory the hard way: He beat Dave Scott on the greatest day Dave ever had on the Big Island.
Then, after taking five years off from Ironman because of injuries and attending to the needs of his new family, Dave Scott changed perceptions again by coming back in 1994 at the age of 40 and finished second overall. Two years later, at the age of 42, he added to his legacy by posting a 2:45:20 marathon and running himself into an amazing fifth place overall.
Over a span of 16 years and ten Hawaii Ironman races, he won six times, placed second on three occasions and – at the age of 42 – crossed the line in fifth place.
Dave Scott’s personal triathlon journey paralleled the early history of the Ironman Triathlon.
His accomplishments on the Big Island of Hawaii led to Dave Scott becoming the very first inductee into the Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame.