The State of Florida has a long history of producing top triathletes since the invention of the sport in the late seventies. The year-round nice weather, the emphasis our state has always put into competitive swimming, and the influx of strong athletes from colder areas has made Florida THE East Coast training mecca.
Guys like Jeff Cuddeback, Joe Bonness, Rob Munz, and Louis Murphy made up some of the top amateurs and professionals our state produced from the mid-eighties to the early nineties. IronJoe still mixes it up with the elite in the Ironman distance, and I don't need to tell you that Jeff Cuddeback is just looking for another excuse for a comeback.
The Picciano brothers, namely Dave and Bill, dominated the sprint circuit in the mid to late nineties, while Alec Rukosuev, a transplant from Russia, ruled the course in Panama City and any other race he entered. All three of these men remain triathletes to be reckoned with.
The late nineties and early zeros have seen guys like John Reback, Rob Skaggs, Brian Fleischmann, and myself begin improving our performances on the local and national scene, while Central Florida natives Hunter Kemper and Nick Radkewich represented our country at the inaugural Olympic triathlon. We also have a number of age groupers that are competitive at the national level in all distances, as well as elite women like Linda Neary and Heather Butcher. And the future looks bright as well, with junior triathletes like Ashley and Julie Carusone, Jimmy Kirsch, and a host of other young guns.
But there's one triathlete in the state who you don't hear too much about.
Dan Domingo is the man.
Dan races only four or five times a year. He doesn't race much. You don't see him every weekend. But when he shows up, you should get out your pen and start taking notes.
I've gotten to race against Dan about six times now, and the head to head record is 6-0 to Mr. Domingo.
A couple weeks ago Dan won the Pan American Age Group Championship race, and two days ago he outran me to win the St. Anthony's Triathlon on Sunday morning. I know I'm not the best triathlete in the world, but darn it, I'm pretty good, and I just can't seem to beat this dude.
Dan's also a heck of a nice guy, so it's not like I can put a picture of him up and throw darts at it all day. I mean, sure, I'm competitive, but not THAT competitive.
"So what's your point, Marty?" I hear you asking.
Well, the point is that it's good to have friendly rivalries. Rivalries initiate competition, and when you have competition you only have two choices - rise to the level of competition, or get out of the way.
I'm not getting out of the way.
So your triathlon mission this summer, should you choose to accept it, is to find someone who's just a bit faster than you, and try and beat them. You may not succeed, but that's okay. At least you've got a goal. At least you're trying to get faster, and become better. You can only improve. And this applies to other parts of your life as well, but I don't have to tell you that, right?
I'll see you at the races.
Are you reading this, Dan? ;-)
Marty Gaal - April 2001