Triathletes Find Camaraderie, Fitness, Friendship

If you’re driving in or around London, Ontario, and the license plate of the car ahead says "A TRIGUY,” you’re behind triathlon competitor and UW Accounting grad Scott Slaven (BA ’82). And maybe that’s his fellow triathlete Bernie Linseman (BMath ’81) beside him.

Scott competes in a race“I’ve been a runner -- as is my wife and now my kids -- for over 25 years,” reports Scott, Director, Finance and Administration for the Hunt Group of Companies in the southwestern Ontario city.

“After running in several marathons, I made the transition to triathlons, mainly for the diversity of sport. While completing the Boston Marathon is a highlight of my running career, my recent completion of a full Ironman triathlon tops that!” At age 55, he’s enjoying the best fitness level of his life.

These sentiments find an echo in Bernie Linseman, Partner—Tax Services in Famme and Co. Chartered Accountants in London. “I decided to participate in triathlons as a result of my brother in Guelph – who’s also a UW grad --challenging me to join him in a very small competition,” he recalls. “From that point on, I was hooked!”

Although his initial outing was “far from impressive,” Bernie took heart from those around him. “Their training paid off with a level of fitness far beyond the norm,” he explains. “There was lots of camaraderie, and the sharing of similar goals really caught my interest.” 

Multi-stage Competitions

The demanding yet increasingly popular triathlons are multi-stage competitions comprising swimming, cycling, and running (see sidebar). Participants undertake rigorous training to achieve fastest overall completion times.

Commitment is crucial, not just your own but that of your friends and family as well. “I’m fortunate to have the support of both,” says Scott, “and I’ve been able to share my success with those closest to me.”

Scott cyclesTriathlons enable the London duo to re-build their physical strength -- and rekindle their youthful vigour. “You focus on building a strong mind and body,” explains Bernie, checking off the life lessons learned in the process, including the value of nutrition, relaxation, motivation, and work-life balance.

Triathlon events in Ontario and farther afield see the two friends supporting each other, not striving head-to-head. “Your only real competitor is yourself and how you measure against the clock,” Scott explains. “When Bernie enters a race, I wish him well before it and congratulate him after it.” In fact the pair rarely sign up for the same event.

“The great thing is the inspiration you receive,” Bernie contends. “Neither of us is a strong swimmer, but we encourage one another to go forward and build on our biking and running strengths,” he says. “Now that Scott has completed his first full ironman, he has inspired me to take on that challenge as well!”

Shared History

Bernie competes in a raceThe pair’s shared history dates from long before triathlons entered the picture. They originally met in Windsor, Ontario as co-op students.  “Years later, after I had left Coopers & Lybrand to go to KPMG -- Ernst & Whinney at the time -- Bernie joined the firm,” Scott recalls. “He had a real gift for dealing with clients, even the difficult ones!”

The two worked together for a couple of years. In the last decade their paths would cross again, first in London’s vibrant running community and then in triathlons. Both men extol their triathlon experiences, but they cherish their thriving professional careers just as much.

What motivates Scott is that every day can bring exciting new possibilities. “When you work for an entrepreneur who has great insights and is always looking for opportunities,” he explains, “there are many surprises along the way.” As a partner in a CA firm, Bernie knows that clients want real solutions to their tax and financial issues. “Being part of a team that solves such issues is extremely rewarding,” he reports.

If pressed hard, the two alumni can imagine Bernie smiles after completing a raceother roles for themselves. Queried independently for this story, they offered similar scenarios. ”It’s hard to say,” Scott hesitated. “Maybe a fitness trainer or coach. It doesn't pay much, but I think I’d be pretty good at it!” In much the same vein was Bernie’s reply: “If I weren’t in accounting, I’d be working in athletics -- most likely as a coach-trainer.”

If you’re driving around London, or observing a triathlon somewhere in the province, keep an eye out for these very fit Waterloo grads. And maybe even consider joining them!