By Shane Richard Bell
Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press
Tom Dubos was a triathlete before the Ironman was king.
In 1984, he ran his first marathon. He was smitten. In 1987, he completed Ironman Canada in Penticton, British Columbia.
But the crossing from marathon to mega triathlon wasn’t happenstance. In the winter of 1984 Dubos was in a serious skiing accident that required swimming exercises for physical therapy.
“I thought after that I can run, I can bike, and now I can swim, what the heck, let’s try a triathlon,” said Dubos.
Finishing an Ironman was his ultimate goal, said Dubos. “It’s really hard to put into words. It was more of a death march than a triumphant gallop to the finish line. After doing it, I thought, ‘No way am I doing this again.’”
But Dubos’ growing desires and aptitudes wouldn’t relent. He ran more marathons, triathlons, and even ultra marathons. “I did 105 miles in 24 hours,” said Dubos. “When you do the math, it’s pretty slow. But that is a long ways.”
Many mile markers and Dixie cups of Gatorade later, Dubos decided to conquer another Ironman competition. He succeeded, finishing Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2010 and 2011. “You’ve got to work on your weaknesses. I had real objectives. And for those two races I was solid, in the middle of the pack, at around 13 hours.”
Dubos notices the triathlon trends.
“Things have really changed. Back then for Ironman it was a paper registration you sent in with an attached check. Then you waited a few weeks for a response in the mail. Now it’s online and if you don’t sign up, it’s booked in 15 minutes,” said Dubos. “It’s too much about the equipment now. We used to ride whatever was in our garage. It was much more low key.”
This year marks his fourth time participating in the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon, occurring Saturday, August 10. His goals are to beat his previous times, avoid bike problems, and feel great physically.
While his triathlon resume is ever growing, there are certain people he looks for at every finish line. “I’m very blessed with a supportive family,” said Dubos, speaking of his wife and triathlon volunteer, Diane Dubos, and two daughters, Megan, 23, and Sarah, 31.
“You know, I wasn’t the all-American jock growing up; we were just always doing stuff,” he said. “I thought later in life, ‘I better get active, otherwise I’m going to be as big as a house.’”
But it’s not all physical. “This really helps me think. If I am stuck on something with work, I find solutions. It gives me greater confidence,” he said. “And when you’re confronted by a difficult situation, you think, ‘I did Ironman, how difficult can this be?’”
Nor is it all charitable. “I tell people, I have no pretense. It’s an incredibly selfish endeavor. And a lot of people will simply not see that or admit to it,” said Dubos.
“But it keeps me sane. It keeps me calm. It mellows you out and nothing rattles you. And I was just lucky enough to marry the most tolerant woman, too.”