Competitor Magazine Endurance Sports Awards
A Benefit for Challenged Athletes Foundation

Photos by Chris Kostman / AdventureCORPS, February 8, 2003

aR0012509 R0012512 R0012513 R0012514 R0012516
R0012519 R0012521 R0012522 R0012523 R0012524
R0012527 R0012531 R0012532 R0012533 R0012534
R0012535 R0012536 R0012537 R0012538

The eleventh annual Endurance Sports Awards, held February 8, 2003 at Sea World, was a very special evening organized to recognize a wide variety of endurance athletes while benefiting the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

It was also neat to be there because one of the new award categories was "Ultramarathon Cycling Legend" and this year it would be awarded to Rob Kish, the seventeen time finisher of the Race Across America. As we all know, ultra-endurance sports rarely get this kind of “mainstream” attention.

The evening started with two hours of free-for-all arcade and circus style games where we all won lots of hilarious stuffed animals. It was a cute juxtaposition to see all these good-looking athletes in tuxes and sexy dresses with armloads of stuffed animals.

The awards program was really well organized and was emceed by Bob Babbitt, the publisher of Competitor Magazine and co-founder of C.A.F., along with Mike Reilly, the "Voice of the Ironman." They had a great stage with jumbo screens on both sides. A video montage of the 2002 endurance races in review was played. It included the Badwater Ultramarathon, which we at AdventureCORPS produce, so that was nice, as well as Race Across America, plus all the top triathlons, adventure races, and marathons.

There were quite a few awards given, nearly all of them preceded by a one to three minute video clip about the recipient. Truly, it was a very slick and fun presentation.

For me and many people there, the most compelling award recipient, as well as speaker, was "Cycling Legend" Award recipient Davis Phinney. Most all of you will remember that Davis racked up more cycling wins than any American cyclist in history, something like 250. Most of them he won in a sprint, though he did win the Coors Classic stage race, as I remember, not to mention two stages of the Tour de France. His career started after winning the bronze at the LA Olympics Road Race and then going to race in Europe for the 7-11 Team, the first ever American team to race in the Tour (Greg Lemond always raced on a French team in his TdF years). During the video montage of Davis’ career, everyone was struck by how the ESA Award, a body with the hands raised in the air in victory, looked a lot like Davis as he streaked across countless finish lines with his arms over his head.

A few years back, Davis announced that he now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. Tonight he talked about how he was always racing his bike fast, trying to get somewhere really quickly, when he was a pro athlete. But now he sees that what he was really learning, in retrospect, was patience, waiting to see how things will play out, when to make his move, when to seize the real victory. Now that he’s not only retired, but afflicted with a terrible disease that puts his athletic days well behind him, he advises that we should make everything in life "competitive," something that we can "win," and that we take the time to appreciate the great moments and little personal victories. The inspiration may be a smile from a stranger, your child doing well in school, finishing a project, a great sunset, or a nice meal with a loved one; whenever possible, acknowledge what a great moment it is, treat it like a victory, and throw your arms over your head and say "Yes!"

Davis received a standing ovation and we all received a valuable and important lesson in life. Thank you, Davis!

Other Highlights
John Naber won the Olympic Legend Award for his four golds and one silver in swimming at the 1976 Olympic Games. He’s an absolutely incredible speaker, looks as good as he spoke, and was clearly very touched that people care about him now and for what he did 25 years earlier. Later, Tim Deboom won the Triathlete Magazine Long Distance Male Triathlete of the Year Award (he won the last two Kona Ironman Tri’s) and said that even though he was five when Naber won his medals, he (Tim) was a back-stroker as a kid and Nabor was his absolute idol.

Muffy Davis won the Challenged Athlete of the Year Award for not allowing her paralysis-causing skiing accident to ruin her life. The former Olympic aspirant is now a Paralympic mono-ski racer and just as beautiful and vibrant as ever. (She also came up to me earlier in the evening and complimented me about my snakeskin boots. My boots, by the way, belonged to the personal wardrobe of Clayton Moore, the actor who played The Lone Ranger and my tux belonged to country music superstar and actor Dwight Yoakam, while my tie was my grandfather Ed Stafsholt’s Loyal Order of Moose tie.)

Click here for the 2003 Endurance Sports Awards

Click here for the 2004 Endurance Sports Awards

back to top