NBC’s annual Ironman Kona show rolled out over the weekend with much fanfare. While there was the usual focus on the pros, the age-grouper storylines had some absolute gems this year.

In particular, Mike Ergo’s story stole the show. Ergo, a former Marine, has used triathlon to deal with the post-traumatic stress of losing 29 of his colleagues during the war in Iraq. He was invited by Ironman to race Kona as an ambassador. 

Ergo stumbled across Ironman during a family vacation in Hawaii, and has been hooked ever since. “I just happened to be in Kona the same week as Ironman without knowing it. Watching the race live, I felt terrified. And excited. My wife saw the look in my eye and knew the gears were turning. I signed up for my first half Ironman less than a month after that vacation. I didn’t know why I was doing it, but I knew it was my next step,” he said during his feature on endurance sports website innervoice.life. 

“When I came home from Iraq and left the Marine Corps, I was a wreck. I lost over twenty people in my unit, many of them friends, some of them close friends. The pain of that loss and the physiological and psychological symptoms of PTSD (the nervous gut wrenching fear that something bad was about to happen), always being on-guard, the anger masking intense sadness and grief, the daily intrusive thoughts of combat and killing – I was trying to avoid feeling that pain by drowning myself in alcohol” he added. 

In an inspiring effort, Ergo finished the Ironman World Championship in 13:05:38. 

If you missed the Ironman World Championship Show, it will be re-aired on NBC on December 19 at 5:00pm ET. 

(Image Source: Melissa Ergo via innervoice)

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