This coming October IRONMAN Hawaii celebrates its fortieth anniversary. Forty years since the Ironman was born in the format in which it is known today. Held for the first time a competition that has become a world reference both for what has been an evolution for modern sport and for the wonderful stories of human achievement that year after year are lived in Kona when the limits of thousands of people are broken to demonstrate the power of the word “will”.
Forty years are already enough to highlight some names that have made IRONMAN the monument that it is today. And among those people, the one that is the central axis of this text: Ken Glah.
When you meet Ken, you perceive from the first moment he is passionate about what he does, his life is his sport. He continues to take care of his body, his diet and his training. His eyes keep shining when he talks about IRONMAN, he maintains the passion to plan his way to re-qualify for Kona and he can remember every detail of those who have lived in his thousands of training days and races around the world. When you meet Ken, you realize he is an open book that talks about triathlon from its beginnings to the present moment.
The biggest demonstration that he loves his sport is that this October he will be on the starting line of the IRONMAN Hawaii for the thirty-fifth time. The number of participations that this entails is far from what any other triathlete has ever achieved. In addition to that Ken has achieved it in a row, not missing a single IRONMAN Hawaii since 1984! That gives a wingspan to this milestone that can hardly be matched someday.
I remember this past March in the days before IRONMAN New Zealand. Ken organized a training camp before that race so that everyone who travels with his company (Endurance Sports Travel) can train with him and prepare for this competition in an ideal way. It was very nice to see how a triathlete who has been professional and who won six times among the IRONMAN Brazil (1998, 1999 and 2000), Canada (1993) and New Zealand (1992 and 1993), who was ten times top-ten in Kona (with his best finish in third in 1988), is able to show the niceness and attention that Ken treasures.
In those virtues lies a great part of the success of the company that he created in 2002 through which he organizes the trip of any athlete who wants to experience the IRONMAN. Everything is prepared so that triathletes and their family and/or friends can be sure their trip to the place of the event, their lodging, their nutrition and all the added logistics (like for example the bike mechanics assistance) are taken care of in every little detail.
Thanks to his experience competing all over the world, always having his mother as his first and best fan, in every of the places where Endurance Sports Travel organizes trips are also proposed training session on the same swimming, cycling and running circuits where the race will take place. This way every athlete knows what he/she has to face, in addition to have the chance to the valuable advices that Ken constantly gives so that the competition is a success for every person who races it.
After having raced for the first time in the triathlon in 1982 (in Rhode Island), after having participated in more than 80 IRONMAN all over the world, having won national and international competitions in other distances of the triathlon and having been included in the Hall of Fame of the USA Triathlon, Ken continues to look forward to his next competition as if it were the first and, essential, to facilitate all those traveling with his company (EST) they also achieve the finish line.
And so I saw him, completely excited and occupied in helping and encouraging those of us who traveled with him to New Zealand. After finishing his IRONMAN and knowing that he had qualified for 35 consecutive time for Kona, he got a shower, began to recover his body eating something and placed himself back on the marathon circuit to continue encouraging all those who were still competing. He checked and re-checked a thousand times the app of his mobile phone to know where each of the people who traveled with him were, studying our times and figuring if those who would arrive later would finish in less than 17 hours.
After that trip and the previous ones that we have done together, the option to start sharing projects as training camps for triathletes and cyclists was born, unique experiences in privileged places where every detail will be taken care of with the highest quality. This is the reason why these days Ken will be in Huesca, from where we will begin to plan those proposals that will be developed during 2019.
When a person maintains his passion for what he does for so many years and is also capable of transmitting it, he is a person who shines and who makes everyone around him reach their best version. Ken is that person and knowing him is one of the great privileges that can be had when training and competing in IRONMAN.