Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen and the Greatest Race Ever Run

By: Paul Terranova 

Busted! I’m an avid reader of non-fiction, with always one or two books in the queue ready to go at any time and one or two on hold at the library. Reading passes the time very quickly when soaking the legs in a tub of ice water in the middle of summer. My latest read is titled Iron War about the 1989 duel between Mark Allen and Dave Scott at the Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The book came out in 2011, and I can’t believe it took me TWO years to read it, it’s THAT good! Therefore, I must share why without ruining the book:

At the time in 1989…

– Dave Scott was the 6-time Ironman World Champion, Mark Allen – Zero.

– Mark Allen crushed most if not all of the lead-up races to Kona, only to come up short time after time.

– Dave Scott found swimming, water polo and ultimately triathlon as an outlet for his bottomless energy.

– Mark Allen found swimming and triathlon as a sanctuary from his indifferent father.

– Despite his success, Dave Scott wallowed in depression year after year only to resurrect himself for Kona.

– Despite his success, Mark Allen suffered from a lack of confidence, a classic “choker”.

Even if you’re not a triathlete or a fan of triathlon, the author Matt Fitzgerald goes into riveting details about the “community of suffering” surrounding endurance sports, the willpower that goes into making an endurance athlete, and the mental energy and psychology that creates winners and champions. All of this applies to us as runners. In fact, as the third discipline in triathlon, running is where BOTH Dave Scott and Mark Allen most differentiated themselves from other competitors throughout their triathlon careers and ultimately from each other in the ’89 Iron War.


WARNING: You WILL be motivated by this book. Your heart rate MAY spike up from time to time into Zone 4/5 while reading it. Those that have NOT done a triathlon MIGHT be inspired to do so. You WILL find yourself pushing yourself harder BOTH in training and race scenarios. There, you’ve been warned, now go out there and CRUSH IT!!!

See more from Paul Terranova at his personal blog: Grand Kona Slam.


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