On this second installment of the Omega Sports Endurance podcast, it is only appropriate we invite the record-breaker for most consecutive years participating in the Ironman Triathlon series, David Daggett. David has competed in over 195 triathlons, 29 of them including Ironman finishes. He is also a lawyer and a person who loves giving back to his community through organizations like Kids4Kids, Smiley Race, and Safe Sober. In this episode, we cover David’s entry into triathlons and get into a few of his most memorable experiences from the past 40 years.
Listen to the full interview on The Omega Sports Endurance Podcast.
Ironman Triathlon Triathlete
At 61 years old, it’s safe to say that being an athlete is a way of life for David. In his younger years, he was big on wrestling and football, but that was about the extent of his athletic experience. The very first time he participated in a triathlon happened in a way you can imagine any young person gets into something – through a dare. Not only that, the dare was made a day before the race. The race took place in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and to no one’s surprise, David was the last one to come out of that water. But that did not matter to him; he was hooked immediately. Given that he was a jack of all trades athlete, he didn’t have a glaring strength, and he more importantly didn’t have a glaring weakness.
Triathlons, especially Ironman Triathlons completely changed his life and for the better. It taught him to set goals, resilience, and one of his most prized lessons, consistency. “Consistent execution over time always produces a positive result,” David expresses, and it is true. Keeping slow and steady with added positive habits will always produce excellent results. As David states, “most people want to trade a long-term goal for immediate gratification, and though it’s okay to treat yourself from time to time, positive results come from consistency.”
As David describes it, back then, races were like the wild wild west. Other than the Ironman Triathlon, there was no structure or organized system to the races, only chalk to outline your bike. That’s it. Though as time went on, more races started to adopt an organized structure, the first of which David noticed being the Bud Light US Triathlon series. This was happening during the 80s, to which David qualified for 3 US championships. Once people began comparing times, the evolution of races really took off; it went from endurance junkies going out to blow off steam to an actual competitive sport. To this day, David feels he invented the first race number strap and was also one of the first people to wear a speedo throughout the whole race.
One particular race David remembers fondly was in 1985, the USTS Bud Light race. It was the first race to have the big four, which were the 4 undefeated athletes at the time; he finished the race coming in second fastest in all transitions, to which he credits the innovative speedo trick—a true claim to fame.
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One of the parts David is most grateful for is the community, and in triathlons specifically, there is more of a collaborative effort to help each other. And being an experienced triathlete, David feels it is his obligation to encourage people to join as first-timers.
One success story David is most proud of was the night before the Smiley Triathlon. There was a young lady there with her two friends who were set to participate in the race; David comes up to her and asks her to join the race. Of course, he was met with hesitation. Still, after a few words of encouragement and cheering, he was able to convince her to join, so he goes over, and together they pick out a triathlon outfit for her. The next day comes, and he sees her crossing the finish with just the biggest smile you could imagine, but it gets better. Just a week later, David receives an email from a name he does not recognize – it’s from the girl’s father. In this email, he expresses gratitude for convincing his daughter to join the triathlon because it proved to her that she could achieve what she sets her mind to, and this has influenced her to try out bigger and better things.
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The Smiley Race and the Kids for Kids Triathlon are the two races he uses to try to convince people to join. Kids for Kids being just once a year and approximately 200 kids, it’s impressive to think he is able to gather that many kids in a smaller city. How does he do it? The answer is more straightforward than you might imagine; support. Kids for Kids is now going on its 18th year, and David has been there from the very start. Their main goal is to promote a safe environment while giving a championship experience. The way they do this is by making this a memorable experience. Volunteers at the finish line will announce all the kid’s names once they cross, and for those who are first-timers, they are given a rainbow bracelet to wear that day. Volunteers can spot them and give them some extra cheering. One of the greatest side effects of everything is seeing the parents cheer them on, which causes a shift in the family; they start improving their health and fitness all together. Next thing you know, they’re out here with their own bikes training for their own triathlon.
You would think that after all he has accomplished, he would be getting ready to wind down; that could not be further from the truth. Years ago, David thought to himself, “wouldn’t it be cool to do an Ironman Triathlon at 70?” Well, that time is approaching, and he couldn’t be more excited. For next year at 62, David is set to race in Germany for the Challenge Roth Triathlon.
If you want to keep up with what David is up to or learn more about his organizations check out:
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