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Ironman World Championships

October 13, 2012 by  

Ironman World Championships, Perseverance. Inspiration. Selflessness. Hope. These four badges are the most faithful form in which to represent the stories of Rob Verhelst and BethAnn Telford, two Ironman athletes who will be competing at the World Championship in Kona.

They were both selected as two of eight winners in the Kona Inspired contest to participate along with some of the best athletes in the world.

Their narratives are motivational, an impetus for one to strive for more and to reflect on all that is good in one’s life.

Rob is a firefighter from Madison, Wisconsin who still finds himself working 24-hour shifts. His story began after the September 11th attacks in 2001. Rob described his rescue team’s call to action as something that was “written into [his] life and has impacted [his] life ever since.”

He gained invaluable perspective during the time spent at Ground Zero. In search of a purpose, Rob began running triathlons, and eventually, Ironman triathlons. His story became particularly noteworthy during his participation in the Half-Ironman Racine in July of 2011.

For the running portion of the race, and for two half-Ironmans and eight full-Ironmans since, Rob has finished in his full firefighter’s gear: his jacket, pants, helmet and oxygen tank.

What prompted Rob to compete in this fashion?

He described it in three parts. The first was to build awareness for the charity “Code 3 for a Cure”, which raises money for both active and retired firefighters stricken with cancer. The second part was to honor and remember all those lost during the 9/11 attacks.

And then the last part has developed throughout the years as an inspiration, a passion. When you have something that you want to do and you’re passionate about it to grow stronger, the people around you grow stronger. And that’s the motto that I’ve had the whole year: your strength is your passion.

BethAnn’s tale encompasses a similar mantra, coinciding with that of the Ironman competition: “Anything is Possible.”

BethAnn competed in the 2004 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. As she strongly hit Mile 18, a sudden and painful “pop” in her head nearly derailed her. With proper hydration and pure determination she was able to finish the race. However, in the following days, memory trouble and other physical encumbrances began affecting her work.

In December of 2004, an MRI revealed a brain tumor in her frontal lobe.

Now, seven-and-a-half years later, after teaching herself how to walk and then run again, BethAnn is fulfilling her dream to race at the Ironman World Championship in Kona.

Incredibly positive and strong-hearted, BethAnn will be accompanied by one of her best friends and fellow brain cancer warriors.

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