On August 25th I raced my first full distance Ironman in Louisville KY. I spent the better part of a year training for this epic event (the toughest physical challenge of my life). The day after racing I received an amazing invitation to race Ironman Kona on behalf of the ironman Foundation. I was overwhelmed. After a few days of thinking it over this was my response to the ironman Foundation:
RE: Invitation to Race Ironman World Championship Kona, HI
It's been a pretty wild few days, completing my first Ironman in Louisville on Sunday, and then receiving your generous invitation on Monday. I have since taken time to reflect on the prospect of racing IM Kona. Many would say it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's astonishing to know that, thanks to you, before me is a chance to take part in something I know most people will never be fortunate enough to experience It would be an honor without compare to race on behalf of the Ironman Foundation and participate among the athletes who have inspired me along my trying journey to Louisville, the athletes who, at Kona, will in turn inspire countless others. I'm now faced with one of the toughest decisions I'll ever have to make.
Something else you wrote had a profound affect on me. You mentioned the chance to race on hallowed grounds. I am certain that every serious endurance athlete considers IM Kona just that. Coincidently, it is also a reference we use in my business to describe legendary wineries and the land upon which their renowned vines grow. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy is one of these preeminent sites. Your words reminded me: DRC is my hallowed ground, and it always will be. It is my symbol of the decades of work and experience that have gotten me to where I am in the industry. I have not raced my whole life to earn a spot at Kona, as so many athletes have done and will do. The experience, the desire, the sheer dint of force may someday be mine such that I could come to Kona, but I'm not there yet.
You've also gotten me thinking about my motivation to join this sport and what drove me to race a full distance Ironman. My goals, at the outset, were clear: my sister had died tragically, and I needed to get physically and emotionally healthy in the devastating aftermath, so that I wouldn't implode. I felt compelled to help raise money—and, more importantly, awareness—to fight an illness that takes the lives of more people than auto accidents each year. The long hours of training gave me time for soul-searching, for reckoning, and, ultimately, physical and emotional healing. After eleven grueling months, I emerged with more than just physical acuity; I emerged with an iron mind. I knew myself better than I ever had before. I understood the experience of losing a sibling from a perspective I never would have had without Ironman. Along with my dedicated network of friends and loved ones, we managed to raise more than $46,000 for the Mayo Clinic. Working with you and your team at the Ironman Foundation, we emerged as the largest fundraiser for the entire season. The Your Journey, Your Cause platform should be recognized as a dynamic masterpiece of support, bridging the determination, will, and emotion of athletes of varying abilities by allowing them to achieve monumental personal goals. We all know it’s these goals that are the most significant and deserve the greatest recognition.
I consider my inaugural season in Ironman an amazing success. Racing four 70.3’s and culminating with Louisville’s 140.6. I have met so many people along the fundraising journey that have inspired me and offered me broad perspective on what is truly important in life. I have forged new friendships that will last throughout my life. I already look forward to returning to race with Troy and Frankie in the XC platform again. I have rekindled relationships with the people I know are so important to my equilibrium and the nourishment of my soul. And for all of this, I want to thank you and the entire team at Ironman, because without this structure, this resurrecting experience would never have been possible.
The opportunity to race will always be one of the greatest honors I've ever been bestowed, and so it is with a heavy heart that I must respectfully decline your invitation to participate in Ironman World Championship Kona. I must instead take the time to continue to reflect on the amazing journey I've just completed, and to look forward to the amazing journeys I hope we'll have the opportunity to take together in the future. I am confident you will understand and support my very difficult decision.