As a coach I have been privileged to work with many athletes over the years. A few stand out for particular reasons. Dave Aitchison was one such athlete. He had all the attributes of an elite professional athlete, exceptionally talented in cycling and running, serious dedication to his training and racing, clinically analytic, highly competitive and aggressive in races, extremely modest, and supportive of other athletes of lesser ability. Yet so laid back when not racing or training. He had the ability to switch off and be mischievous and funny. He was a credit to his family and CB.
We first met on March 4th 2006, when he became a member of the Herbalife triathlon Academy in London . His ambition was “I want to take my triathlon performance to as high a level as I can. My aim over the next two years is to get my Olympic time under 2 hours and qualify for the World Championships for my age group”
These he did within one season.!
From the outset Dave bombarded me with emails and phone calls – so much so I christened him “Spammy” , a name we both affectionately got use to.
His first race was the Eton Super Sprint , where I met his very own “rent a crowd” – mum, dad and CB .This to be the first of many outings together. The result – he came 1st overall with the fastest time at the weekend.
The second race was Blenheim – it was’nt so much “baptism by fire” – more by water – buckets of it , all day it rained heavily throughout the race. Spammy finished 12th in the Elite field and held his own very well. His only disappointment in the race evaluation was his slow T2 time, due to cold hands, which could’nt undo his helmet strap. He gave himself a score 3/10 for this T2.
At the National Championship in Wakefield he finished 5th in his age group. A week later he had achieved one of his aims (1 year early) by finishing 6th in his age group at Shropshire – to qualify for the Worlds. A fortnight later at the Dambuster (another World qualifying race) he won his age group and came 2nd overall.
Dave achieved his 2nd aim on August 6th at the London triathlon when he went under the 2 hour barrier, and consequently won the sub 2hours 30 mins group , yet again the fastest non elite at the weekend.
So what was left to conquer? September saw the World Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had a dream race coming 3rd to take the bronze medal at the highest level of competition in the triathlon world.
If that was not enough, he won the London Duathlon in Richmond Park a week or so later.
It was the end of his race season – as we had planned it – but Spammy having achieved all his aims was not satisfied and wanted to raise the bar – yet again..! We had toyed with the idea of moving up to Middle distance ( ½ IM ) for 2007. So to wet his appetite for what lay ahead in our next season – he entered the Vitruvian race a week later. My idea was for Dave to enjoy the day and the experience of the longer distance. He had done no special training for the race at all, and typically Dave agreed with the race tactics.
But when the race started he just raced it in his normal fashion at 110% ( I should have known better – should’nt I? ). Not only did he complete the race, but finished 7th in a very high quality field. Now Spammy was sold on the new distance.
Later on in October in Richmond, we spent the night planning the new season with the Middle distance races as key. But that season will never be.
Dave would always push the boundaries and I knew he would have been even more successful at the new distance – I also knew he would push eventually to the big one the long distance Iron Man. Given the chance – I know he would have succeeded in both.
The Vitruvian race was Daves last triathlon and something very special, showing his true capabilities and his need for new challenges in his racing.
Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man, symbolised the material existence by the square – and the spiritual existence by the circle, to depict the correlation between these two aspects of human existence. Vitruvius himself describes it as an “ ideal form “.
Dave “squared the circle” – Dave was the “ideal” triathlete.