BACKSTAGE AT THE ENDURANCE
SPORTS AWARDS (ESA)
Mitch Thrower: We’re inside the Pavilion at the Endurance Sports Awards. I have caught up with Katya Meyers and John Duke. John Duke actually was the reason I ever got involved in this sport, and he brought the multisport campers to this very pavilion at the end of camp. John, do you remember that day?
John Duke: Yeah, so it had to be like 12 or 15 years ago and we thought there was a need for a good party, and we convinced Bob Babbitt and Louis Schwartz and John Smith to put on this party. And we actually bought seven tables for the longest time to get it going.
Mitch Thrower: That’s outstanding. And Katya, when was your first Endurance Awards?
Katya Meyers: About five years ago when I moved to San Diego.
John Duke: I have to check my email.
Mitch Thrower: He’s got to check his email. And Katya is a world class triathlete. Everyone is here tonight at the Endurance Sports Awards. We found Greg Welch. Greg, what are you doing?
Greg Welch: Trying to win toys for my children, Annie and Emma. Annie’s seven and Emma’s five. Want to get back to the action. I want those three-pointers, you know? I’ve got to take a whole carful of toys for the children tonight.
Mitch Thrower: Greg Welch, ladies and gentleman, getting ready for the three-pointer. Here he goes. And it’s good. Greg Welch. How are you tonight?
Elizabeth Farnan: Hi, Mitch. How are you?
Mitch Thrower: And what do you have on this evening?
Elizabeth Farnan: Giorgio Armani.
Mitch Thrower: You’re wearing the Armani. And Matt’s wearing, looks like a Zegna.
Matt Miller: Looks like a Zegna, that’s right. Tailored for triathletes specifically.
Mitch Thrower: Peter is the producer of the television show that covers the Ironman and many races associated with Ironman.
Peter Henning: Yeah, and not only the NBC show, but I kind of supervise all the television around the world. I don’t think we have a weekend free anymore.
Mitch Thrower: There are Ironmans basically everywhere. I think they’re going to have an Ironman Mars coming up, right?
Peter Henning: I hope so, because I haven’t been in outer space yet and I’d like to go.
Mitch Thrower: They’re going to co-brand it with a candy bar, right? They’re going to license it to the Mars bar.
Peter Henning: We’ll figure out a way to get money out of it somehow.
Mitch Thrower: I’m here with Janice Engelhart. Janice, what do you think about tonight?
Janice Engelhart: I’m so excited to be here. It’s just an awesome event, so I’m really looking forward to see the awards.
Mitch Thrower: And have you played any games tonight?
Janice Engelhart: Yeah, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve played and I haven’t won anything.
Mitch Thrower: No stuffed animals. Mary Ann is Jon Blaise’s mom. And Mary Ann, you’ve seen an outpouring of love from the triathlon community and the multisport community. If Jon were here today, what do you think he would say to everyone?
Mary Ann Blaise: He’d say, “Mom, I’m really surprised you’ve gone this far and I’m really proud of you.”
Mitch Thrower: And we are really proud of you, as well. And we love Jon Blaise, we love you. It’s wonderful to have you in the community. Thanks for coming.
Mary Ann Blaise: Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Mitch Thrower: You’re the best. Simon, I remember a story, a really quick story, that a friend, [unintelligible], found you in a park sleeping in London. He came up to you and said, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” And you said, “I’m Simon Lessing, future world champion.” Is that a true story or a--
Simon Lessing: I think that’s maybe a little bit of a fabrication of a true story. I actually ended up sleeping in my bike bag in Ansi in France. And at that time, [unintelligible] was actually racing believe it or not. I think I raced against him and he was wondering who this so-called English guy was. And I pretty much had a clear idea of where I wanted to go in the sport and told him, not really realizing that he would actually understand that I was speaking English and understand my English.
Mitch Thrower: I’m here with Paula Newby Fraser, a good friend and someone who inspired me in the early days to get involved in the sport of Triathlon. Paula, you’ve won like a billion Ironmans, haven’t you?
Paula Newby Fraser: Yeah, I think it’s coming up a trillion.
Mitch Thrower: Coming up on a trillion. How many is it?
Paula Newby Fraser: No, it’s actually way less than that. It’s only in the 20s.
Mitch Thrower: In the 20s. She’s modest. We’re back at the, backstage at the Endurance Sports Awards. I’m here with Ain. And Ain, you’re very tall.
Ain-Alar Juhanson: It’s just Estonian people. They’re the tallest nation in Europe, so it’s normal size in Estonia.
Mitch Thrower: This is the normal size in Estonia. You must be what, 11 foot 7 or something?
Ain-Alar Juhanson: No, I don’t know about foots, but I’m just one meter 94.
Mitch Thrower: One meter 94. Well, do you have any secrets for the triathletes that are out there?
Ain-Alar Juhanson: Just keep going, keep going what you do and size doesn’t matter, as you can see. It’s 220 pounds pure muscle and I can still race well.
Mitch Thrower: You are 220 pounds?
Ain-Alar Juhanson: Yeah.
Mitch Thrower: Outstanding. That’s our April cover model for Triathlete Magazine. Thanks for being here.
Ain-Alar Juhanson: Thank you very much.
Mitch Thrower: Another fantastic picture of you just over my left shoulder.
Michellie Jones: Really?
Mitch Thrower: And what do you think about the sport of triathlon? How it’s grown, how many people are out there now? In racing, participating. It really has exploded.
Michellie Jones: You know, it’s amazing to see how far triathlon has become. You know, we’re an Olympic sport. I mean Ironman is getting bigger and bigger. I mean it’s hard to even enter a race, and I think that just says a lot about what our sport’s all about, you know? People love it. Once you do one, you just want to keep doing one and another one and another one.
Mike Reilly: How many of you guys out there are wearing compression socks underneath your--c’mon, raise your hands. Don’t be shy. How many got compression socks on? Good for you.
Mitch Thrower: We are backstage at the Endurance Sports Awards. I’m here with the hosts, Mike Reilly and Bob Babbitt. Mike, what’d you think about tonight?
Mike Reilly: I thought it was a fantastic night. The energy in the air was just, it was flying up on the stage at us. I mean it was just so incredible. People were standing up giving standing ovations with no prompting whatsoever. It was the best.
Mitch Thrower: Incredible. And Bob, what was your thought of the evening?
Bob Babbitt: You know, I thought if--I don’t know, Reilly was not quite on. I think it was--you know, I had to carry the whole freakin’ show all by myself. He said, he tells me, “I’m going to wear the jacket. Are you?” I said, “Okay, if you’re wearing it, I don’t want to wear the jacket anymore. I’m tired of this.”
Mike Reilly: Armani, baby.
Craig Alexander: Yes, I received the award for the Male Triathlete of the Year, so very honored to win that.
Mitch Thrower: Congratulations. And do you have any crazy stories of something that maybe was a little scary from the sport of triathlon?
Craig Alexander: Yeah, a couple of stories I guess. I did a race in Australia once, and as we’re walking down the beach to get in the water, there was a big sign that said, “Beware of the sharks.”
Mitch Thrower: Your company has a lot to do with helping people stay active and get out there. What would you recommend to folks that are out there just thinking about getting active?
Andy Gallardo: You know, you can only--all you can do is try. And you go out there and know that worst thing you do, you fall down, you get back up, and you try it again. That endurance sports is more inviting than people think. People can do more than they believe they can, and if you give it a try it’ll change your life forever.
Melanie McQuaid: Well, this is number two gold man for me, so it’s going to be a pair. He’s going to be a little twin and there’s a little--you know, I’m allowed to have a bit of a shrine in the house, but it has to go in the training room. It’s not allowed in the general part of the home. So, my training room now has two gold men to motivate me when I’m training indoors.
Mitch Thrower: Excellent. I’m sure there are quite a lot of medals in that training room.
Melanie McQuaid: There’s a few.
Mitch Thrower: We are backstage with Becky Lavelle. Becky, how do you feel?
Becky Lavelle: Oh, it’s exciting. I feel really good. I was really honored to get this award. And to get two awards in one night is pretty cool, too.
Mitch Thrower: Two awards in one night, and one of them was kind of a large cup.
Becky Lavelle: Yeah, it was a little bigger than the sky, but yeah. The [unintelligible] cup. Just give it a try, you know? It sounds cliché, but yeah, you know? It’s almost like, anyone can do it. If you put your mind to it and you dedicate your time and effort and just try it and you’ll have a great time. And that’s I think what’s drawn so many people into triathlon in sport.
Mitch Thrower: Taylor, you got an award tonight. What award did you get?
Taylor Phinney: Junior Male Cyclist of the Year.
Mitch Thrower: Junior Male Cyclist of the Year. But that doesn’t compare to that YouTube video that you have out there with a lightsaber, does it?
Taylor Phinney: No, it doesn’t. I think that’s probably the best thing of my career that I can think of.
Mitch Thrower: Do you have one with you tonight?
Taylor Phinney: Yeah, actually. Just have one in my hand right now. Here it is, man.
Mitch Thrower: Awesome. Well, congratulations. Good luck out there.
Taylor Phinney: Thanks, bro.
Mitch Thrower: Ricky, how did it feel to win the award tonight?
Ricky James: It was awesome. You know, I came here last year and saw Scott Rigsby win this award and, you know, I was kind of dreaming it and thinking if I finish Ironman, I might be able to get it. So, pretty stoked to walk away with this little dude.
Bob Babbitt: To be honest, what was cool about it, I love the mix of the athletes. I love the fact there’s an appreciation from Melanie McQuaid for Taylor Phinney and Taylor for Craig Alexander and all those guys for Ricky James. And, you know, I think we’ve realized that all these athletes do the same thing. They do it with a little different piece of equipment.
So, Ricky can’t use his legs but he sure as hell can use his ar And he’s an athlete and everybody in that room is an athlete. And I think everybody shares the fact that they got up at five in the morning, they suffer, and this is an evening to celebrate that suffering.
Mitch Thrower: Well, from Mike Reilly, Bob Babbitt, all of us here at Competitor and Competitor TV, thanks for coming to the ESAs.
Mike Reilly: Cheers, baby.
Bob Babbitt: You’re backstage, baby. Enjoy it.