SCOTT COOPER’S JOURNEY TO THE PODIUM
AKONA X 3 lthough Scott Cooper competed three times at Kona before making it to the podium, you won’t hear anyone say it was “third time lucky.” This 29-year-old age-group champion climbed steadily and surely from newbie to Ironman, fuelled by uncommon perseverance and dedication, not luck.
Growing up in Everton, Ont., Cooper was into many sports, but running was his main focus. Watching Simon Whitfield win gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, created an interest in triathlon and, nine years later, at the age of 21, Cooper ran his first race and was hooked.
Cooper took an “organic” approach to build his endurance gradually.
“Just because you begin competing at a higher level doesn’t mean you can train a lot harder overnight,” he says. “It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of big competitions and start doing workouts that are far beyond what you were previously capable of.”
Cooper’s first season consisted of sprint races with an Olympic distance right at the end. Season number two was completely Olympic races and wrapped up with a half-distance. His third season, in 2012, was mostly halfdistance races and ended with his first full-distance at Ironman Mont Tremblant in 2012.
“I think it’s important to simply keep chipping away with consistent training and let the body develop gradually,” explains Cooper. “I think this gradual increase in distance over three years helped me a lot.”
Finishing that first full was quite emotional.
“I was laughing and tearing up all at the same time,” he remembers. “I don’t think my body knew how to react, but it was one of the most proud and unforgettable experiences of my life.”
Altogether, Cooper has run in seven long-distance races and 13 half-distance events, including the ITU Long Distance World Championships.
In 2013, Cooper fulfilled his dream of competing at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-kona, Hawaii, and found being there was awe-inspiring.
“I didn’t have many expectations and was honestly just hoping to survive the weather,” he says.
Cooper returned to Kona in 2015, but six months before the race he was in a serious bike crash. He had more than a dozen fractures in his shoulder, shoulder blade and collar bone and the initial prognosis was that he might not swim again. Cooper’s arm was immobile for almost two months, but friends changed the gears when he got on a stationary bike 10 days after surgery. He was back to normal training