Monday, December 27, 2010

The Lesson of Ironman Rajesh Durbal - Triple Amputee

Rajesh Durbal - triple amputee - this is his website

I have not formally met Rajesh.  I spoke to him on the road in Kona as he ran by and inspired me. If you don't get inspired by a triple amputee doing KONA in 14 hours and change check yourself into a morgue because you're a corpse.  

I took this shot of Rajesh against the sunset.

Rajesh is a guy who is getting things done in spite of EVERY possible reason to roll over and feel sorry for himself...  he doesn't.  LIFE would be hard as a triple amputee.  Rajesh is taking on things like Ironman and living.

Listen to this interview.

When I returned from Kona a few rouge people took liberties with my projects and things were in a state of chaos. (I fix chaos.)  I was asked by my client's leadership team, "How do you feel about these problems?"  My response shocked and surprised them.  "I have no problems.  I have a few things to fix from a few people who tried to help, but didn't have all the facts, while I was away.  I have no problems."  In the grand scheme of things, I have it easy.  I just have to be tough enough to tackle it.

Here is Rajesh at mile 25.2.  Carleen, Lorrie, Jay and I all told him to "soak it in" and "you are entering the greatest one mile run in the world" and "you're going to be a Kona Ironman".  He simply smiled and said, "Hey guys.  Thanks for being out here." 14 hours into Kona - most everyone is on Alii Drive, in a restaurant and certainly NOT where we were.

I then went on to explain to "leadership" what I saw in Kona.  I saw people with two arms, two legs and an amputated will to fight to a finish line.  You know those people.  The people who talk and blog tough but turn to dust when the TV lights go away.  Ironman is about when the cameras aren't watching.  When the only person out there is you.  Fatigue makes cowards of a lot of people and eventually all people.  That is when an Ironman makes their statement of who they are.  It was all there.

I saw a woman with a broken foot walking the marathon (she was featured in the NBC coverage).  Unfortunately, NBC didn't tell Rajesh's story.  Maybe they didn't think people would believe it.  Maybe he is so strong mentally that he would be a pro if he had both legs and his arm back.  NBC missed an opportunity.  Hopefully, Ironman will have Rajesh back many times.

The most amazing person I saw was Rajesh.  A triple amputee taking on Madame Pele and handling everything she had to dish out like he was out for a Sunday evening run.  Kona is amazing every year, but this year seeing this man with no legs was a turning point in my life.  This year has been tough mentally, but I see why it was and why I was supposed to be in Kona.

Here are Rajesh's times from Kona:

Swim:  1:17:54           (remember... no legs and ONE arm)
Bike:   7:07:39
Run:    5:36:18

Total: 14:19:12

1639th overall beating 234 "able bodied" qualifiers who "earned it" - yeah... they earned a beating from a guy missing three limbs.

All this and I never (really) spoke with the man.  I do feel I understand his spirit being an Ironman finisher.  I think anyone who has finished an Ironman would.  I identify with a lot of what I saw.  I am proud to be in the same fraternity with him - Ironman Hawaii Finisher.

I am a spiritual person (but don't wear it on my sleeve).  I believe your faith is a private matter.  You see all kinds of passages from various religious books.  One of my favorites is, Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall i fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?  It applies to racing as well as life.  Life being far more important.  
So... you've got problems?  No courage to try?

"This is your life.  Not some dress rehearsal."  - Jon Blais, 2005 Ironman Hawaii Finisher, ALS victim


  1. Hi Bob - Wow, Rajesh has a very inspiring story!! And congrats on finishing the Hawaii Ironman! Does he have any online video clips of him speaking?

  2. Hi Michele - I sent Raj a note. I'll have him send the video to you directly.

    Raj is the real deal. Great guy. Humble. Amazing. Most people don't have the guts he does.


  3. Hi Bob Mitera, You quoted from the Bible are you Jewish or Christian in your private faith? Also I just read an article about Rajesh that said he had faith an prayer. Do you kno anything about his faith?? Thank you.

  4. HI Anonymous - I am Christian. Raised Roman Catholic. I've studied eastern religions as well as most non-Christian religions as part of my mandatory theology classes in college.

    You'll never hear me saying, "You should do this" or "This is the ONE WAY to believe" - in politics, religion etc. I believe people should think for themselves.

    While I am religious and a person of faith - you will never see me write or speak specifically about it unless I am at my faith's congregation.

    This is a triathlon blog.