This is Abdullah. Last week he and his family were squeezed in a small rubber dinghy with other refugees attempting to escape from war-torn Syria. When the raft capsized, he swam for three hours in the rough Mediterranean Sea attempting to keep his wife and two sons alive. Abdullah was the only one to survive.
Last year I swam 2.4 miles in a smooth channel off the Ohio River surrounded by canoes and paddle boards to ensure my safety. I am an Ironman.
This is Delshad. He and his family rode in the hull of a truck for over six hours with one-hundred other refugees. After several hours his three year old daughter fell unconscious from the intense heat and lack of air.
Last year I road 112 miles on a fancy road bike through the beautiful Kentuckian countryside loaded down with as much cold water as I could carry. I am an Ironman.
This is Salah. He is one of the thousands of Syrian refugees currently making the over 150 mile trek by foot from Budapest into Austria. He wonders why those that he meets on his journey treat him like an animal.
Last year I ran 26.2 miles through Louisville while hundreds of volunteers cheered me on and provided me with food and water. I am an Ironman.
For over 12 months I’ve put off the task of writing about Ironman Louisville hoping that I’d eventually see the significance of this particular experience in my life. I’m by no means trying to downplay the challenge or accomplishment of finishing an Ironman—it was one of the best experiences of my life in part because of how challenging it was.
However, I left my home knowing that I’d return the next day to the comforts of my full refrigerator and soft bed. These refugees leave their homes, uncertain of where they will sleep each night as bombs blow up their houses and schools.
But I am the one called an Ironman. Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective, doesn’t it?