3 Bans in 3 Days & Small Town Politics

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In 14 days my wife Fiona Coyle (32), teammate Karen McPherson (61), and myself Kevin Coyle (32) will take off as the canon fires from the aquarium like waters of Kailua-Kona bay on the big island of Hawaii. We’ll be alongside the worlds best athletes who earned their spot to be there by finishing in the top of their age groups representing the top 1% of all Ironman athletes. We’ll be racing alongside World Champions, Professional athletes, Gold Olympic Winners, and World Record Holders in the most difficult day in endurance sports. The non-wetsuit swim covers 3.8km and will encounter strong currents, the intense winds of the Queen K highway and unrelenting heat will be just some of the challenges on the 180km ride, and the 42.2km run alongside the Lava Fields where nothing lives or exists will try to tear us down, and beat us up.

Like any one of the past 8 Ironman’s I’ve done, Fiona’s 7, or Karen’s 1, we have all faced issues, dramas, and adversities just to make it to the line and this week was no exception. While my life hasn’t presented me with some of the life-changing challenges that others have had to face like burn-survivor Turia Pitt and others who have battled back from cancer or losing limbs and that we will be racing alongside in Kona, I will not say I am greater or worse, just that adversity is part of the journey. It’s what will make crossing that line at the pinnacle of our sport, the mecca, the holy-grail of triathlon, that much sweeter. So what adversity could a 32 year old and his wife with no kids but a fur-child, Sydney, working mostly stress-free jobs, without a mortgage, or other major life-stresses be facing? A 6 month ban from the only public pool for 1,500km and a ban to the both of us from Lasseters Health Club.

Monday

So it’s been an interesting week. We came off a weekend of a quality swim at the ASALC from the best coach we know, Rob based in Sydney, a 2hour run on the treadmill at Anytime Fitness-Alice Springs, and a 180km ride that I covered in 4:47:37, 20 watts lower than planned. So as we entered the Peak Phase we looked to work on getting heat acclimatized by using the Sauna at Lasseters, surely they would want to support the first 2 athletes from Alice Springs to every qualify for the Ironman World Championships? I spoke with Emon, told him about Kona, sponsorship, and that we were trying to get acclimated to the 95F/35C and 90% humidity that we’ll face during the Bike and Marathon. (We live in the desert so its dry and in September it’s only been 21C). So we spoke, he said to come on down while there are ppl there, the girls would let me in. We used the Sauna doing a 2x10min w/ 1min recovery.

Tuesday

We postponed our typical 6AM swim to recover so planned that later in the day.

During the day Fiona called me. She just got an ear-full from Matt, the manager of the Lasseters Health Club. I don’t know how, but somehow he got her private cellphone number??? Any who, he blasted her saying we were trespassing and that we were banned from the club. He said that I was banned from the pool and multiple people raised complaints about me. He didn’t say who these people were. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about and that I swam at the pool nearly 5X/week. He finally back down when I relayed giving him an earful. He relented, called me mate, and offered me a sponsorship with a  50% discount to $10 to use the Sauna when we wanted.

I headed to the pool later in the arvo after work and started my key swim session. 13minutes in I was interrupted by 2 Town Council Rangers and the Manager of the Pool, Martin. In front of children, adults, and some friends, we had some dialogue and they said I was banned. No notice, no documentation.

I met with Kevin Everett, the Director of the Rangers the next afternoon. He couldn’t show me, or give me the 2 complaints that had been lodged about me with the Town Council since they were confidential. And this meeting was also confidential. He issued a trespassing ban from Sept 9, 2016 – March 9, 2017.  I had received only one notice from Town Council 5 months earlier about changing lanes where there was no mention of an official complaint, no face to face, email, or phone conversations were held.

I wrote a 3 page appeal that night, sent it to Town Council at 10pm addressed to Rex Mooney, the CEO of the Town Council. Again, this was as well, confidential.

Wednesday

Interestingly enough, Matt, the manager from Lasseters Health Club called me at work the next morning around 10AM. He said that he heard that I’ve been banned from the pool and officially banned me AGAIN, for the 2nd time in 3 days. I gave him an earful, but no “Mate” this time and somehow Fiona is banned still, I assume? I called the owner of Lasseters Health Club, Curtis. I left a message and surprisingly have not received any calls back or follow ups. It’s very interesting that I would be banned from Lasseters from using a key aspect of our final training preparations and the town pool 2 weeks before the biggest race our lives.

Only AFTER this discussion with Matt was I contacted by the Alice Springs News where my appeal to town council was published. Here is the link to my appeal: http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2016/09/22/storm-in-the-town-pool-ironman-banned/

There are currently 2 positive comments and 70 Facebook likes on the article.

Thursday

I met up with the CEO Rex Mooney and this time had Fiona who was an eye-witness to both issues that are still confidential but that I clearly understand what the references were to. We also met with Skye Price the Director of Corporate and Community Services. I restated to them what I wrote in my appeal but opened up to the small-town politics that I am alleging are the real core and back-bone of why someone who has spent thousands of dollars at the pool over nearly 6 years and swimming nearly 700 times there, would be banned based off of allegations that I was never ever confronted about. This came up as Rex asked me about using another pool such as Lasseters. We finished with me questioning what policies and procedures were in place for the manager to just ban me with me never having any say what-so-ever. Rex personally gave me his word that they would conduct an investigation and would let me know by Friday and by COB Monday. Of course this would now be 7 days without use of the ASALC, only two weeks before the World Championships.

Friday

It came and went, no word from Town Council. But by now, the whole town knew what was going on and an outpour of support from my friends, family, and sponsors triggered a flood of emails and phone calls to the Town Council. I’ve encountered stress like this before here in this town and what I did to alleviate the stress then. (read about it on a prior blog entry from a year ago HERE -> Managing – STRESS) So, I wasn’t going to let it get in my way. After all, I am an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America and our motto is “Be Preparred”. And I was reminded by a highly admired local individual who said to me “This is part of what separates the great athletes from the others. The ability to compose themselves in high pressure situations.” I went out following my self-coached plan and got 4 Strava KOM’s. And I covered the “Alice to Airport” 6.7m/10.8km route at 335 Watts and 32.9MPH or 53KPH. At one point I was spinning my 55/11 chainring at 360 watts and 37.8MPH/61KPH!!!

It was training moments like these, the love of my closest friends (and several who showed their true colors) and family, and my positive attitude that will bring me out of this total mess stronger than ever before. There were two other great moments for me. Since Fiona and I are both Gold All World Athlete which is the top 1% of all Ironman Athletes in the world, we have been invited to a private Gold AWA breakfast in Kona with some of the greatest athletes Triathlon and Kona have ever seen; Mark Allen, Dave Scott, and Tim Reed!!!

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It was also fantastic to receive our supporters shirts. The shirts have been paid for with financial support from some fantastic local sponsors. Their financial support also led the 3 of us to buy custom Scody Tri Suits decked with the Green and Gold. Thank you NT Government, Triathlon Australia NT (Megan Pickering), All Electrical (Duncan Rogers), Elder Real Estate (Joanne Pulsford), Exact Homes (Jack Page), Territory Rural McPherson (Jock McPherson, TMS Mechanical (Lynn and Pete Treis), BIG4 Maconnell Range Caravan Park (Brendan Heenan), Alice Springs Physiotherapy, the Rec Association (Helen Kindness), and support from the Darwin Triathlon Club.

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And speaking of Darwin, we bought some awesome new Darwin Tri Kits that we’ll be happy to wear in some of our future races!

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Saturday

Another highlight started the day off with an early run. We had the great pleasure of meeting one of the greatest Australian Runners of all time, Robert de Castella. He was there with his 12 Indigenous Marathon Project runners who look to compete in the NYC marathon. I wanted to wish them the best since NYC is 30minutes from my hometown of Wayne, NJ. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jesse Thomas who has trained with Jared Medhurst who I’ll be competing against in Kona (a phenomenal runner), and I mentioned to Robert about his positive impact on Nat Heath who was a graduate of IMP and took over my lead off the bike at Ironman Australia ’15; he went on to Kona as well. So Robert de Castella is an absolute legend and is really doing something great here form the Indigenous, Sport, and Life!

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NEW SPONSOR – MOMBASSA DAY SPA

Seeing that both Fiona and I were banned from Lasseters Health Club by confidential information that Matt somehow learned about, I reached out to Mombasa Day Spa where I had received haircuts (when I had hair) and Fiona had been as well. I knew they had a sauna. They were absolutely incredible and have provided Fiona and I with 3 absolutely critical sauna sessions. And, we were pleasantly surprised!

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The very kind staff brought us upstairs, gave us lockers, robes, sandals, and these sauna underwear things to wear. We had more than 30minutes in the sauna with a couple minor breaks. The 147F/64C Sauna was fantastic and the soft music allowing Fiona and I to relax while losing a couple kgs of water weight. And complementary chocolates? Booyah! Remember from my past posts, we follow a “Mostly-Vegan diet”. We can’t turn down free chocolate!

We’re looking forward to meeting the owner to say Thank you for their generous support next week. Had I known that small-town politics would be at play, I would have contacted Mombasa months ago so that they too would be included on our awesome shirts with the support of 11 local sponsors.

Where to go from here?

Officially 1 week without the use of the town pool is a major drag especially when it’s based on accusations and allegations that I have never been given the opportunity to respond to, but I will make this right and I am prepared for whatever decision is to be made.

I think I’ll leave it with this. Communication is critical. Lack of communication leads to divorce, war, arguments, and violence. It also leads to me, for the second time, meeting with the CEO of a major organization. That’s right, back in April, Miles Stewart who was 6th in the Sydney Olympics and CEO of Triathlon Australia came to Alice Springs to act as a mediator between me and irrational petty non-sense complaints about me from the triathlon club. It ultimately led me, my wife, as well as others to join the Darwin Triathlon Club or leave triathlon completely. I have never really spoken about that publicly because all I want to do is train and race, but bring it up here because one can only question as to whether all of this is related??? What is the link between the pool management who should have been the only ones with this confidential and private information and Lasseters???  While the resolution was that I would not talk bad about the triathlon club or members, and I  couldn’t volunteer as an RD for the remainder of the year, I thought we had moved forward.

I’m a religious man, volunteer, supporter, and active in my community. I have tattooed on my arms “Passion and Love” and “Grace and Peace”. The face of Jesus is tattooed on the forearm facing me specifically because when I’m aero on a triathlon bike I want to look at him and see him and give thanks and love to him for allowing me to live this incredible thing called life. Although I’ve questioned my wife multiple times while discussing the above with “Am I really that bad of a person”, I realize and accept that everything happens for a reason. And I believe in Karma. And the Karma storm is raging in full-force over Alice Springs.

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