IRONMAN 70.3 HAWAII: Rhinehart inspires, completes Honu

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KAILUA-KONA ­— Score another victory for the stroke survivor. Though he may not have finished first, Kailua-Kona’s Kevin Rhinehart showed that life is not over for those suffering from physical limitations as he finished the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii triathlon on Saturday.

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KAILUA-KONA ­— Score another victory for the stroke survivor. Though he may not have finished first, Kailua-Kona’s Kevin Rhinehart showed that life is not over for those suffering from physical limitations as he finished the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii triathlon on Saturday.

The 57-year-old Rhinehart finished the race in a time of 7 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds. He placed second in the Physically Challenged division, trailing only James Cuizon (7:06:11). Diane Berberian (8:13:24) finished third.

With splits of 42:25 (swim), 3:31:48 (bike) and 2:27:04 (run), Rhinehart’s overall time would have been good enough for 1,165 place out of 1,440 competitors if the PC division’s times were calculated into the overall finish list. His split times in the swim and the run were both outstanding, placing in the upper half of the field.

“It was a good race and I was very pleased overall,” Rhinehart said. “The course was very easy to follow and the volunteers were spectacular.”

The race started well for Rhinehart as he battled with the other swimmers in the waters at Hapuna Beach State Park. Rhinehart called the swim “surreal” as he fought for position in a limited amount of space.

“It was was like sardines in a can but I got through it ok,” Rhinehart said.

While the swim went well, the bike was another matter. Pedaling up to Hawi and back, Rhinehart had hoped to finish the second leg of the race at least 20 minutes faster but several factors played a part in his slower speed, he said

The biggest factor was a camelbak that Rhinehart was wearing filled with seven to 10 pounds of water. Rhinehart does not have a functioning right hand, which means he cannot grab the bottle at various water stations along the rout. However, the camelbak proved to be too heavy for the 56-mile ride.

“It was a lesson learned,” Rhinehart said. “Next time, I will stop if I need to.”

The run, which starts and finishes on the grounds of the Fairmont Orchid, was surprisingly good for Rhinehart, who mentioned previously that he used to run only once a year to remind himself how much he did not like it.

At Honu, the run was Rhinehart’s best split. His time was the 746th fastest of the day. Rhinehart managed to do this despite getting large blisters due to his socks rolling down into his running shoes. He elected to go without compression socks to save time in the transition but again he calls this a “lesson learned.”

A little over seven hours after starting his adventure, Rhinehart crossed the finish line with only one thought.

“I did it, I really did it,” he said.

Next up for the triathlete will be a step up to the full IRONMAN experience. Rhinehart will compete in Vineman IRONMAN in July and then in the IRONMAN World Championships in October. He is already in the process of upping his distances with his coach Rick Rubio.

“I am training five days a week under coach supervision,” said Rhinehart, who suffered a stroke in 2012 and didn’t started training for triathlons until October of 2015. “I already have a 100-mile bike ride planned for later this week and a 20-mile run next week.”

While he prepares for his next race, Rhinehart will never forget his experience at IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii.

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“I was very grateful that I was able to participate and that I did well,” Rhinehart said. “One thing that kept me going was all the stroke survivors cheering me on. The athletes were focused but friendly and it was an outstanding experience.”

For more on Rhinehart visit kevinrhinehart.com.