Brett Kessler

Colorado athletes heading to Kona!

Name: Brett Kessler

1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?

This year is a “bonus” for me.  Last year,  I had the opportunity of a lifetime to do this race through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training through a charity slot.  It was one of the best days of my life as I checked off a lifelong dream to cross the finish line in Kona.

It was a “one and done” for me (or so I thought).  I’m not fast enough to qualify.  I don’t see myself being fast enough to qualify anytime soon (if ever).

I signed up to do the Honu 70.3 in June to keep the triathlon racing going.

In March, I got a weird alert from Google that linked my name to a “Honu to Kona” lottery.  I clicked on the link and it went to a page that was under construction.

Whoa, what if I was chosen to do Kona again?

I obsessively clicked on the link all night long.  I spoke to some of my friends that were planning to do Honu with me to see if they received any notifications similar to mine.  No one had received anything like that.

I found out that there was, in fact, a Honu to Kona lottery and the names were chosen.  However, Facebook went down that day and Ironman was waiting until all social media outlets were working to announce the winners.

That was also the day that the infamous “bomb cyclone” snowstorm happened.  I was supposed to travel to Chicago for a business meeting.  My flight was canceled and I attended the business meeting via Skype.

And then I received the announcement.

At Kona last year, Mike Reilly was on break when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t get his, “Brett Kessler, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” but I didn’t care because I crossed the finish line.

On this cold, snowy morning in March, he announced the winners of the lottery.  My name was the first one called.

I went nuts! I started yelling and screaming, “I’m going back!  I’m going back!”

The conference call that I was on immediately disconnected me as I was a distraction to those on the other side of the connection.

I was in a total state of shock. Can I do it again? Can I do the training required again?

Or the most important question, Should I do it again? It took a lot if time away from my family and work.  I received my wife’s blessing.  I made it a point to show up to as much family time as possible.

And most important, my wife and had an Italy trip planned and I can’t interfere with OUR “trip of a lifetime”!  (I am writing this from Italy).

So with the blessings in place,  I decided to go for it!

2. What is your favorite career IRONMAN memory so far?

I have two:

Last year, my wife asked a bunch of friends and family to write letters to motivate me.  She shared the packet with several dozen letters with me 3 days before the race. It was so moving to me that it brought me to tears.

Last year crossing the finish line, I was welcomed in by family and friends.  This is an individual sport, but for me, it took a village!  To celebrate my finish in that was was a gift,  I will not forget.

3. Is this your first time competing in Kona and if no how many other times have you done so?

This is my second time.

4. If someone were watching that is new to the sport, what would you tell them is the coolest thing about being a triathlete and competing in this venue?

I am humbled to be able to compete at this venue again as an average athlete.  I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.   I am a totally average athlete.  In the Ironman world, the saying, “Anything is Possible” is not a cliche.  It is a reality.  With a solid training plan, dedication to the process and support from my family and friends has afforded me the opportunity to toe the starting line for one more go.

5. What do you think is the hardest thing about doing an IRONMAN?

The training is the hardest part but also the funnest part.  So many mornings, the alarm went off at 4:45 my brain and my soul would start to argue – sleep in or get up and train?  Most of the time, my soul won.

The goal is to cross the finish line.  I am most proud of who I have become in pursuit of this goal.  I have embraced everything it takes to do the Ironman and incorporated it into my life.  With dedication, discipline, humility and gratitude I have proven to myself that I can accomplish anything in my life.

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