This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone,...Read More
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Where Are They Now?
Like many triathletes who felt the call to compete in the early 80s, Dale Basescu read about Tom Warren's Ironman victory in the May 14th, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated. The next summer, he and a dozen Tennessee buddies staged their own version of what they thought an Ironman race might look like.
"We met," he remembers, "and we made up all the rules, and then we did it." And after Dale finished first, he was on his way to California to find his fortune as a budding triathlete and as long as he was near Hollywood, an actor.
Between 1981 and 1988 Dale found success in both, regularly finishing in the top three of Olympic distance events and landing the occasional role in small theatrical drama. He played guitar and sang, was handsome to a fault, and was perhaps the first triathlete to link performative achievement with entertainment. Dale was primed and ready for his close up.
But in 1989 a rare toxic chemical event (something in a rented apartment) seared most on his right lung and he had to forego all aspirations for a future in pro sports. The acting was put on hold when he met and married another SoCal girl. With Shirley at his side- "the love of my life then, now, and forever" -as he claims, Basescu entered chiropractic school. He and Shirley moved to Atlanta, set up shop, and were proud young parents-to-be. Until Dale woke up one morning and his Shirley did not.
"Her passing cut a hole out of me," he remembers now, "and I entered a dark, precarious, day-to-day existence. I spent years thinking about ways to end it all but interestingly, I always kept training. All that was left of my family were a dog and a cat. And I kept swimming and running and riding my bike."
"And so I went back to acting, TV commercials, touring as a musician, did a few sitcoms, indie films...learned to see things a lot more clear."
In 2009, after nearly twenty years away from his California home, after half a dozen careers, after coming to some mutual détente with a God that took his wife and child, Dale came back to LA. Today Basescu combines a busy schedule as a Beverly Hills chiropractor, a screen writer, actor, and thoughtfully-aging athlete who feels 30 but has the wisdom of 60.
What about modern triathletes and their hyper focus on the minute things like power wattage and age group medals, I asked? How do you put that in perspective with your own athlete's life journey?
"Who am I to judge? In any circle there's always going to be equal cross sections of the spiritually aware and the geek." -- ST