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  • Writer's pictureKen Lubin

Episode #92-Mark Allen/Scott Zagarino- 1989 The Story

Mark Allen is a legend and Icon in the triathlon and endurance world.

After competing and losing in the Ironman Triathlon Championships six times (often to Dave Scott), Allen emerged victorious in 1989, winning one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

This was the first of six Ironman victories for Allen, the last coming in 1995 at age 37, making him the oldest winner of the event at that time.

My favorite intro from his bio “I began a career as a professional triathlete in 1982. Back then doing a triathlon was a big adventure. There were no books, no videos, no coaches. But there were races, some even had prize money. The challenge was how to go faster. One month we might think the key was mileage, so we’d crank out ridiculous totals week after week. Swim 30,000 yards in seven days? Of course! Pile on 500 miles cycling and another 70 running in that same time? Why not! Was that enough? Was it too much? It was all a guess.

Our second guest is Scott Zagarino

Scott has been involved in triathlon in one capacity or another for more than 35 years. And Over the course of 15 years he competed in 53 triathlons around the world. For a few seasons he tried his hand at racing as a pro. Racing in this company was a master class in humility. When injuries forced him out of triathlon he moved on to adventure racing, whitewater kayaking, surfski paddling and kitesurfing. Between 2000 and 2006 he trained in the traditional Soto School of Zen Buddhism beginning as a novice monk and upon completing that portion of my training, was ordained legally as a Zen Buddhist Priest. Professionally he runs the Scott Zagarino Agency where he works and collaborates in event communication, athlete communication and sponsorhips service.

Mark and Scott have created the 1989 story. Which can be found at

Project Overview

On October 14, 1989 at the Ironman® Triathlon World Championship the universe of sport was changed forever when Dave Scott and Mark Allen ran “The Greatest Race Ever Run” pushing each other to the breaking point, and then pushing harder for more than eight hours, never separated by more than a few feet. Both athletes raced wondering how much longer they could go on at that level of suffering?

The challenge to leaving a lasting legacy in sports is that the story has to originate with the truth, and the truth about the 1989 race has never been told in its entirety. The stories that have been published, or handed down as anecdotes from sound bites taken from interviews with Mark Allen and Dave Scott that only reveal parts of the picture, but none have captured their full personal stories until now.

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