Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii
PlanetOne’s High Roller’s Club coincided with the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this year. As a long-term fan of the race, PlanetOne’s SVP of Marketing, Bern Richardson took advantage of being on the Big Island at the right time and volunteered on the course on race day:
The 41st Ironman Word Championships Race Day started for me at 6:00am as I arrived at my designated volunteer area on the bike course on the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway outside the gates of the Four Seasons Resort. I was put to work as part of the West Hawaii Boy Scout Troops group who’ve been volunteering at the event under organizer Rodney Vasquez’s leadership, for the past 30 years. We prepped the pallets of beverages, replacing Coca Cola bottle caps with sport tops and processed hundreds of cases of bottled water, creating an intricate system of ice barrels to store the water we’d be handing out.
The first elite athletes started flying down the hill from Kona towards us around 7:45am and those of us on water duty had to sprint to get up to the cyclist’s speed to do an effective hand-off on the approach. This was an exhilarating yet frightening process that continued for the next several hours until we moved the whole operation across the highway and caught the athletes on their way from the turnaround in Hawi back into Kona for the start of the marathon leg.
After 9 hours I was about to call it quits when one more athlete came riding into view. He pulled up and asked if I could help put water in his front hydration system and some ice in the back pockets of his riding jersey. I then noticed he had two artificial legs and one malformed arm (considered a triple amputee). Rajesh Durbal took my breath away as he rode off towards Kona, headed into the marathon. It was a humbling and inspirational moment and one that I’ll never forget. For the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the race community and for being made part of Rodney’s special ohana for the day I’m truly grateful.
For more inspirational stories from the 41st Ironman World Championships:
For more on Rajesh Durbal:
For the 5000+ strong volunteer appreciation highlight reel:
You’ll see me at 2:18 handing off water to one of the athletes!