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Dave Alexander Sets An Example Just By Being Himself

Known throughout the 80s for his size and the size of his adventures, Alexander embraced it and set an example for others in work, life, and triathlon. "I am who I am."

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I will start by simply quoting a few others:

The New York Times: “The World’s Greatest Fat Triathlete”

Men’s Health: “The World’s Fattest Fit Man”

The National Enquirer: “He’s Tubby, He’s Tough & He’s a Tiger in Triathlons.” And from the story: “If you had to guess whether roly-poly Dave Alexander could compete in a grueling triathlon, you’d say FAT CHANCE!”

Get the picture? At 260 pounds, Alexander was a big fixture in the triathlon scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s—but not just due to his size. Alexander competed in close to 300 triathlons all over the world during this time; all the big-name pros knew him and admired him.

“I remember Dave well—a kindred spirit. I feel we connected with Dave through a shared dedication to the pursuit of fitness, a passion for life, and to a broad sense of purpose. Dave was at every race we did, and we were racing darn near every weekend. And I’m certain Dave was at most of the few races we weren’t at, too,” said Jimmy Riccitello, former pro and now global director of rules and officiating for Ironman.

While doing as many as 30 triathlons in 30 weeks during his heyday, Alexander was also building a significant business. Founded in 1982, Caljet is the now largest independent motor fuels terminal in the U.S. southwest, blending and loading fuel into over 700 trucks daily, and delivering the finished product to gas stations regionally. (And, yes, Caljet also ran their own ads leaning into Alexander’s triathlon achievements and his characterization as “fat,” in the words of the ad.)

From day one, Alexander would rise well before sunrise, get his first workout in, head to a 10- to 12-hour day at the office, and work out again in the evening. According to the New York Times article, written just before he left for St. Petersburg, Russia for his 263rd triathlon, his weekly training regimen was 150 miles on the bike, 30 miles running, and five miles of swimming.

In addition to being a hugely successful business owner, Alexander is also big on giving back to the sport and donating to causes like Make-A-Wish and organizations that helped him throughout his life. From the days of his youth as a Cub Scout, he committed himself to the principles of scouting, incorporating them into his business philosophy. He has served on the Boy Scouts of America national executive board and, very recently, received one of scouting’s highest honors: The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). This acknowledges Eagle Scouts who have “received extraordinary national-level recognition, fame, or demonstrated eminence within their field and have a strong record of voluntary service to their community. It is the National Eagle Scout Associations’ highest honor.”

He’s also been a strong supporter of women’s triathlon, particularly the ASU women’s tri team, and its effort to become an official NCAA sport. To get the 40th school on board and hit that key NCAA target, Alexander made a significant contribution to the USA Triathlon Foundation to help fund a grant for this purpose.

And as for all the talk about his physique? As Alexander once said: “There’s no law that says overweight people can’t compete. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t overeat. This is what I do for fun.” He’s out there showing people of all body shapes that they can do hundreds and hundreds of triathlons, too, and be successful in business, and give back in their personal lives. Why would he want to change who he is? As he told the New York Times, it might be easier to buy clothes if he was a smaller guy, “but, I am who I am. I’m happy with who I am.

Barry Siff was once a Cub Scout, loves triathlon, was a pretty good business guy, and supports numerous good causes. Nothing to match Dave, though. #respect