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VOL. 22, NO. 22 AUG. 10, 2009 $8.01 PER COPY
Triad lawyer says quitting is ‘not an option’, either in court or a race
Triad lawyer says quitting is ‘not
an option’, either in court or a race
By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer
As long as David Daggett can fit into his
27-year-old suits, he’s OK.
That’s the measuring stick the Winston-
Salem attorney uses to confirm that he’s stay-
ing in shape.
It’s not a vanity or body-image thing. It’s
the homemade way Daggett, 49, can monitor
his level of fitness — a hallmark that has led
him to complete 151 triathlons and 18 Iron-
man competitions over the years.
“David’s a real champion among
lawyers,” said Woody Connette, a Charlotte
attorney who completed his own Ironman
race in 1991.
“It’s not only the sheer number of
[triathlons] he’s done, but also the length of
time he’s been involved and the fact that he’s
an extraordinarily good lawyer and commu-
nity leader, all at the same time.”
Triathlons differ in length and include
three legs: swimming, cycling and running.
The first event took place in San Diego in
1974 with 46 participants.
It was recognized as an Olympic sport in
2000. That event consists of a 0.93-mile
swim, 25-mile cycle and 6.2-mile run.
By contrast, Ironman consists of 2.4 miles
in the water, 112 miles on a bike and a 26.2-
mile marathon run.
When asked how he manages to do it all,
Daggett says it comes down to a personal phi-
David Daggett and his family (above and below) travel to Ironman competitions
“Never, ever give up. Not finishing is not
in locations ranging from Hawaii to Idaho.
an option for me,” he declared.
‘Good, not great’
For Daggett, the path to triathlon was
paved early in his life, even though he didn’t
recognize it at first.
An Indiana native, Daggett discovered he
was a natural athlete as a teenager. He was
captain of his high school wrestling team and
also played football, eventually becoming the
only athletic letterman to play in the band.
His instrument of choice: trombone.
“I wasn’t very good,” Daggett admits.
That insight ended up being instrumental
in Daggett’s development as a competitor.
“I learned I was good at a lot of sports, but
not great at any one of them,” he said.
That’s why triathlons appeal to him.
“Being a jack-of-all-trades athlete …
makes a sport that combines events good for
me,” explained Daggett. “That’s my compet-
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In June’s Ironman competition in Coeur
d’Alene, Idaho, Daggett’s race time of 11
hours and 35 minutes placed him in the top
fourth of overall finishers.
His time surpassed that of the world’s first
Ironman, Gordon Haller. In 1978, Haller
completed the race in 11:46.
Since that time, competitors have well
beaten Haller’s time, including Daggett him-
self. His best race time over the years is 10:31.
Others have trimmed the finish to around
Connette, the Charlotte lawyer, completed
the race in 13:50 in 1991.
“David’s just in a different league than any
of the Walter Mitty-type stuff I was doing,”
he joked. Mitty, a fictional character in author
James Thurber’s work, was widely known to
be an inept dreamer.
All told, Daggett was happy with his re-
sult this year. Before the race, he’d predicted
he would finish in 11:45, “give or take five
He’s proud he came in 10 minutes ahead
of that forecast.
“When I was younger, I said I was rac-
ing,” Daggett told North Carolina Lawyers
Weekly. “Now, I say I’m participating.”
And it really is worth it, said Connette,
Charlotte lawyer Woody Connette completed the Kepler Challenge, a 38-mile trail
who has retired from triathlons but completed
run in New Zealand benefiting the Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina, in 2008. He
a 38-mile trail run in New Zealand last year.
will return to New Zealand to run again in December.
He’s returning for the run in December. ent people,” White explained. “For some peo- ment gets changed, I always keep a swimsuit
“To me, Ironman is brutal,” Connette said. ple, it is their life, and that’s great for them. and towel in my car and hit the pool on my
“But at the end, it’s exhilarating. I can see And for other people, it’s a part of their life.” way back from the courthouse,” he explained.
why Dave keeps going back.” Daggett agrees. On weekends when Daggett needs a long-
distance run or ride, he’s been known to wake
Balancing extremes ‘Four anchors’ up at 3 a.m. and bike to meet his family for
Besides getting a runners’ high, Daggett When his first daughter was born 10 years hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. If he’s
said he returns to the race to test himself. ago, Daggett swore off after-work condition- training for Ironman, he’ll cycle home, too.
“Every athlete has a physiological low ing in favor of family time. “It’s almost comical,” said Madonia. “I
point, no matter what,” he said. “Mine comes But he didn’t forego triathlons altogether. don’t know when he sleeps.”
about four hours and 45 minutes into any “I think most people have four basic an-
workout I do. chors in their life — their professional life, ‘It’s the same’
“It doesn’t matter how good a shape I’m family life, spiritual life (however they define All of the attorneys told North Carolina
in, somewhere around 4:45, I’m going to it) and the physical aspect of their life,” said Lawyers Weekly there are similarities between
have a serious bonk. It sounds kind of weird, Daggett. completing triathlons and being a lawyer.
but I like it. I like seeing how I’m going to re- “I think where most people get in trouble Both the profession and the sport are goal-
spond.” is that they separate those things rather than oriented and progress is measured incremen-
That determination explains why Daggett integrate them. I think the more you can inte- tally, they said.
is successful, said Woody White, a Wilming- grate the four, the more likely you are to suc- Both also require commitment to getting
ton attorney who represents Set Up Events, ceed at all four.” to the finish line, no matter the outcome, they
the nation’s largest producer of triathlons. So what does that mean? added.
A trial lawyer, White completed his first It means Daggett’s awake at 5 a.m. for an “Long-distance racing becomes a
triathlon in 2006. hour-long swim each morning. When he can, metaphor for what you do on a daily basis,”
He has never met Daggett, but White he breaks away from his desk at lunch and said Daggett.
commends him anyway. He knows what it runs, either on his own or accompanied by “In a long-distance race, no matter how
takes to participate in endurance races like Marc Madonia, a 35-year-old marathoner in hard you plan, the cards aren’t dealt exactly
Ironman. his firm. how you expect. What you have to do is be
“That takes a tremendous amount of com- Thanks to a shower in his office, Daggett able to play the cards you’re dealt, not nec-
mitment and conditioning,” said White, who can return to work spic-and-span essarily the ones you want, and keep going
trains six hours per week as compared to White, of Wilmington, knows the drill. to make the best out of the situation you’re
Daggett’s 10-hour regime. Fitting exercise into office gaps is what helps dealing with.
White and Daggett agreed that is not ade- make lawyering and conditioning compati- “It’s the same way wherever you are,” he
quate time to train for endurance events, but ble. added. “Whether you’ve had a rough session
they’ve made that choice deliberately. “If I conclude court early one day or see in the courtroom or racing on the lava fields
“Triathlon means different things to differ- the schedule gets readjusted or an appoint- in Hawaii, it’s the same wherever you are.”