Watching the IRONMAN World Championship Broadcast Inspired Age Group Athlete Rafael Zavala

By Rafael Zavala | Oct. 08, 2019, 6:41 p.m. (ET)

rafael zavala ironman

I was inspired and amazed as I watched the IRONMAN World Championship 13 years ago and listened to the stories and accomplishments of the competitors — I wanted the same type of achievement to help me change my life for the better.

Before 2006, I could not run for more than 20 seconds — to say that someday I would be traveling around the world competing in IRONMAN races was a distant far-fetched dream. There were many things in life I wanted to accomplish but couldn’t because I was overweight and the lack of fitness left me completely exhausted from work. Eventually, I saw fitness as a key facilitator to many improvements in my life, including career advancement.

Today, I am the Director of Information Technology for Agility Fueling Solutions, a multinational company with a presence in the U.S., Canada, Norway, India and Brazil. I have lost almost 50 pounds and have competed in 17 full IRONMAN-distance triathlons around the world, and have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for 10 years who has supported my every step on this journey.

It has been my dream since I watched the IRONMAN World Championship all those years ago and saw the athletes' grit as they tried to conquer this grueling race, to be a part of this legacy. That one day I would have the great honor to stand next to all the others who shared in this same goal and cross the finish line at the most prestigious competition in the world of triathlon racing ... the IRONMAN World Championship Kona!

And here I am in Kona doing it!

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rafael zavala ironman