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David James Elliott | Ironman


JS: It’s All Night on ESPN radio with Jason Smith and now we’re in the world of entertainment and sports intersect, waiting via the on star hotline – David James Elliott, star of the TV show JAG, who is competing in the 2005 Ford Ironman World Championships this weekend – and, uh, David, the first thing that strikes me about this is, one of the big, uh, I want to say, events before the event – was a world famous endurance race, run in everybody’s underwear. More than 200 people gathering together to uh, to run this race for 3 miles with men and women wearing nothing but their running sneakers and underwear. Did you take part in this?

DJE: Uh, I don’t wear underwear, so uh, I might have got arrested, I would have had to borrow somebody’s, so no, I missed it. I gave it a miss.

JS: (laughs) You’d be on A Current Affair and all kinds of TV shows if you had done that.

DJE: Yeah, that’s not the publicity I’m looking for, right now.

JS: Well, I know that you’ve been interested in Ironman sports for a long time now, but you know, tell us a little bit about how you got into it.

DJE: Uh, I was a marathon runner for a long time and uh, then I did the short triathlon. I started spinning as a way to cross train for running and then somebody asked me if I wanted to do a sprint triathlon – that’s a half-mile swim, a 18-mile ride and a 4-mile run, and they said, “Do you want to be a part of the relay?” and I went, “Oh, my God, I’ll do the whole thing,” it sounded short to me. I thought I could swim. Then I found out that I couldn’t. I wound up doing the dog paddle for half a mile, got out and then attacked in the bike and the run, but I was bitten and went after the swim, and started working with a coach from USC, a man named Bill Jewel, he taught me how to swim, uh, and you know, I’m uh, I consider myself a swimmer. It’s one of my strongest of the 3 legs.

JS: David James Elliott, star of the TV show JAG is our guest on All Night with Jason Smith on ESPN radio. Now, you started doing this when you first came to Hollywood. How could you balance acting and, you know, training for a triathlon? This is some intense stuff.

DJE: You know, it’s a great way to stay in shape. You set a goal, and you’re more likely to show up, uh, every day to the gym or wherever to train, if you actually have a goal in sight as opposed to just training for the uh, you know, to look good. So uh, that’s why I got into it and um, it’s a lot of fun, a lot of fun. You can see it’s taken – the triathlon has taken off. I think it’s the fastest growing sport today.

JS: Now, you said that it was, it was, swimming now became your biggest, uh, asset now and that’s the best you’re at.

DJE: That’s my strongest of the 3, yeah.

JS: How long did it take for that to happen?

DJE: Took about a year, you know – it’s a really, for me it was very difficult to uh, find – it’s like playing an instrument. You have to think about 4 or 5 things at the same time, uh, and it’s a little bit of a learning curve, but uh, just like playing an instrument, there’s a point where it clicks. You wake up one day and you’d been struggling and struggling and struggling, and boom, it’s suddenly there and you go, “Uh, thank God.” Because I had reached a point where I was, you know, going, “Maybe it’s an impossible venture,” you know, try to learn how to swim, and uh, you know, at this point in my life. But uh, but it hit, you know, and thanks to Bill I’m here today. I called Bill, Mr. Jewel, before I got here, I said, “Hey because of you, I’m here, man. So uh, thank you.”

JS: Television star David James Elliott is with us on All Night on ESPN radio. He’s competing in the 2005 Ford Ironman World Championships this weekend in Hawaii. Uh, what kind of treatment do you get by the other competitors? I mean, because here you are, a TV guy, your face has been on television the last 10 years on JAG and all over the place, are you just another competitor to them?

DJE: I don’t even think I’m…you mean, not the pros, certainly. I’m not a competitor at all to them.

JS: No, I mean how you’re treated by the people you’re racing.

DJE: Know what, I’m not your typical Ironman triathlete, 6 foot 4, 220 pounds. Uh, I get a lot of sideways glances, “You’re doing the Ironman? Yeah, and I’ll just be running over the top of you on the way in, so don’t worry about it.”

JS: (laughs)

DJE: Ironman triathletes are tiny guys. Small. I’ll give you an example: they tried to get me a jersey, a shirt to wear on the bike – they gave me a double extra large – and it doesn’t even come close to fitting me. In any other clothing I’m like a large, maybe an extra large, but uh, for triathlon wear a double extra large doesn’t even come close, so. They’re small, tiny people, they’ve got huge hearts and they’re probably, you know, some of the toughest athletes out there, but uh, not a big man’s sport.

JS: All right David. Let me ask, let me put you on the spot here. You have the choice between the two, what do you pick: the lead role in the next Spielberg movie, or winning this Ironman triathlon?

DJE: I’ll go with the Spielberg movie.

JS: (laughs)

DJE: All right? Just finishing is winning to me.

JS: Very good. Well, we’ll keep an eye out for you this weekend. David James Elliott, star of the TV show JAG.

DJE: Thanks, a lot. Thank you.

JS: Thanks for taking a few minutes. We’ll talk to you soon.

DJE: All right. Take care.