This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with one of the good ones. Check that – one of the great ones. Legendary triathlete Scott Tinley was in the Philadelphia area for a couple of events and I had the honor of hanging and being a part of the gatherings thanks to our mutual friend Pat McCloskey. We shared some good banter, shared a nice run, and shared an easy like Sunday morning couple of draft Guinness Stouts. The conversation roamed everywhere from the weather, to the dangers of open water swimming, to marathon times, and most importantly, our conversation brushed the edges of the real world. The non triathlon world filled with kids, houses, careers, and “life”. In true ST style, he took as much of an interest in my wife’s coursework and studies as he did anything resembling the sport of triathlon
OK, let me level set for a minute. I wouldn’t be doing Scott any justice if I didn’t at least briefly mention a few of his triathlon accomplishments and accolades. After all, Scott is a two-time Ironman world champion who also has a few 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the big dance. His racing resume could wallpaper that spare bedroom in your house. You know, the room with the old exercise equipment that doubles as a clothes rack. Scott is in the Ironman Hall of Fame and along with his peers Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and Scott Molina collectively known as “The Big Four”, he has helped pour the foundation of this iconic multisport sub-culture that has been the epicenter of existence for so many people. For many of us, it was The Big Four who were the catalysts for us even getting involved in this sport to begin with. We watched those early races in awe, in disbelief, and with a magnetic attraction that others either understand, or will never comprehend.
That was then.
See, Scott Tinley is so much more than a “former Ironman World Champion”. Scott will be the first one to tell you that he struggled through that next transition out of competitive racing and into the next phase of his life. But the thing about ST that truly sets him apart is his ability to articulate the effects this sport has had on Scott Tinley the man and the effects that sport as a whole can have on mankind. ST is an accomplished writer and published author who always seems to capture those feelings that we all may have, but few have the ability to identify, let alone express in a way that reaches deep and grabs hold of something within. Scott understands the impact his triathlon career has had on sport.
But Scott also understands that in the grand scheme of things, does any of that really matter?
Today, the California kid is a little wiser (note – I am intentionally NOT saying he is all grown up) and quite content with his life which includes teaching sports literature at San Diego State University, life guarding, and spending quality time with family and good friends – the things that really count. He is proud of where he has been but even more happy about where he is. And he expresses great appreciation of the support system that has been with him throughout his journey. He still trains, but that training may consist of a picturesque barefoot scamper at sunset on the beach. Scott and I have been email buddies for several years. I have always had so much respect for his writing and insight, and his ability to turn raw emotion into that perfectly chosen word or crafted phrase. Over the years, I have shared many points to ponder and assorted thoughts and feelings on life and on sport with ST and always valued and appreciated his feedback and engagement.
My respect for him extends far beyond the elements of swim, bike, and run. What I appreciate is his ability to recognize, then both interweave and differentiate the life and sport connection. His influence on me is even more evident in my fourth book entitled “In Search of Center”. That title came from an email Scott sent where we discussed the notion, how can one ever find their center if they don’t occasionally brush up against the edges? Scott went on to provide the following review of the same book.
So Mr. Tinley, thanks for a great and unexpected adventure this weekend and as I reiterated during our cool down run, “life really is pretty damn great”. Until the next time. Keep the faith.
“Stephen Brown writes with equal parts thoughtful muse and devil-may-care prose. Perhaps born of his own life challenges, he doesn’t swoon his readers as much as he shakes their own foundations of belief about what sport is and what it isn’t. In a world of slick, market-driven writers, Brown writes for the best of all reasons—because it helps him to understand a confusing time and place. If you’re looking for careful, exacting narratives, you won’t find them here. But if you want a view of one man’s successful struggle to elevate his life through physical culture, you’ve come to the right place” – Scott Tinley, Author of “Racing the Sunset: An Athlete’s Quest for Life after Sport”
Post Script – Click HERE for a previous post and a little ST perspective from this past summer.