Rob Verhelst, who has become known as Fireman Rob to the triathlon community, is continuing to share the mission of his Fireman Rob Foundation, which aims to “spread the passion and love of being a part of something bigger than ourselves, one bear at a time to children in need of a smile, at hospitals throughout the world.”
Verhelst does this by completing the run portion of triathlon in full firefighter gear (helmet, jacket, pants and Air Pak) that weighs in at 50 pounds and can be brutally hot on some race courses. Verhelst has completed several full Ironman triathlons, including the Ironman World Championship in 2012, and is going after a new challenge this year. Verhelst is looking to establish the Guinness World Record for most Ironman 70.3 races completed in a calendar year—which currently stands at 22. That record was set back in 2010 by “Iron Cowboy” James Lawrence.
Verhelst tied the record with his 22nd 70.3 race of 2015 at Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Arizona. He also had a new addition to his run ensemble for one race only—a flag to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
“We’re all family across the board,” he told local news outlet KTAR. “We all put our lives on the line daily for our communities and for our other firefighters. It’s such an honor to be able to go out there and honor those 19 that were lost, as well as their families that have to deal with it every single day.”
Verhelst will look to break the Guinness World Record on Sunday, Nov. 8 at Ironman 70.3 Austin.