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What It Means to Race Kona

You probably won’t be reading this until the race is underway (and it is! Follow Garen, bib #1970), but I wanted to share a few thoughts on what it means to race at Kona.

Coincidentally and ironically, the Ironman World Championships fall yearly on the same weekend that my mother passed away from ALS: October 11, 2009. Four years ago I had never heard of triathlon — let alone Kona. Hearing the inspiring story of Jon Blais, an athlete with ALS who completed this grueling race, would forever change my life and lead me on the path to wear I am today, right now, anxiously waiting for the race to start.

The last four years have been quite a journey. I never would’ve guessed that I would have had the wherewithal to even finish an Ironman, let alone the opportunity to qualify for my pro card and race at Kona twice. But most importantly I have been truly humbled by all of your generous financial support — over $50,000 raised to date — to the Blazeman Foundation, a philanthropic organization that is dear to my heart. (It didn’t feel right to ask for money again this year as so many of you have already given so generously, but stay tuned for a fundraising event in New York City later this fall where I can supply a bit of fun for you!)

Additionally, I owe a great debt of thanks to all the folks at Finish Line Physical Therapy, Tailwind Endurance, and Revici for their support in getting me back to the start line at the Kona pier this year. This is an individual sport, but it takes a vast support system to even get an athlete to the start line.

So what does it mean to race Kona?

For most it is the privilege to take on the best of the best from around the world in a grueling test of guts in unrelenting conditions. But for me it is so much more than a race… it is an opportunity to search deep within myself and reflect on the trials and tribulations in my life.

Thanks again to all of you for your well wishes and philanthropic support throughout the years. It means more to me that I can’t put into words. And for all of you that are in the final weeks of training for a fall marathon, stay motivated and just remember anything is possible.

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