An Idaho Falls man paralyzed from the neck down more than 20 years ago set a goal for himself to run the Iron Man course in Kona, Hawaii.
On June 22nd, Rod Hutchins started running the Iron Man course to complete his goal.
It was a goal Rod had set 24 years ago while he was in physical therapy to complete the Iron Man course in his own race.
He took time to reflect on his thoughts less than 24 hours before the race.
“I’ve got a plethora of emotions going through my mind, my body, my soul feelings of excitment, feelings of accomplishment, feelings of humbleness, feelings of gratitude, and many more things that can probably express that, but the biggest feeling, that I have is the tender mercies of God throughout all this process, miracle after miracle after miracle that has happened to make tomorrow’s race successful.” says Hutchins.
The race started off with a presentation of the colors by the JROTC in Kona Hawaii.
Following that Rod dedicated to loved ones and those that inspired him, after that, the man his friends call “Iron Rod” jumped into the Pacific Ocean to begin his race.
It took him less than 3 hours to complete 2.4 miles in the Ocean and when he got out, he was still in high spirits and ready to go on to the next step.
“Oh my gosh, it’s surreal, I’ll tell you there is power in having a lead person, lead people so I can just focus on my breathing and rythm,” says Rod right after his swim, “I’m glad I had the training that I had, I didn’t hit the wall, but I had about 80 leg cramps while out there.”
“You know he never stopped, he never quit, he never gave up, he kept going and going, ” says Mike Trainer, one of his Tri-trainers, “whenever he took little breaks he gave a thumbs up and was smiling
and it was awesome to see the persistance and the determination to finish the race.”
Before noon he was out on the course biking.
Now this is his own race, not sanctioned by the Iron Man Federation, he did not have the luxury of blocked off roads, he had to deal with traffic and red lights, but he had members riding with him and in cars to protect him from traffic coming from behind, and every 15 miles, he had a rest station to replenish.
He faced more adversity though with more leg cramps throughout the night and remaind positive.
Late Friday night he was still on the course but received inspiration through one of his Iron Dream Team members.
Saturday morning, just before 6 A.M., Rod finished the bike ride, a total of 18 hours.
Taylor tells Sportsline, despite the length, Rod handled it like a champ.
“”We biked all through the night, and there were so many times I thought Rod would give up, but he never did, I didn’t think that in the back of my head, but I thought there were times, maybe this is the end of the road because he was cramping up he just had fits with his muscles, he had pain shooting up his legs, we had to pick up his legs and stretch him out manually. We had some massage going on.” Says Taylor.
Rod mediated before starting on his run, but immediately started having signs of heat exhaustion.
He was taken to his hotel, where Emergency responders picked him up and took him to a local hospital.
It was there, when doctors told him he would not be able to finish the race and need to stay in the hospital for 24-48 hours.
Less than 24 hours later, he was walked to the amazement of doctors and was discharged.
His miracle at walking at that point left his dream team members in awe, including his nutritionist Jim Rhoades, who says it left a lasting impact.
“What Rod has done for me is he has taken away all my excuses for having incredible success, you see I have two knees that work that are mine, two hips that are still in place that work just fine, and all the other parts that are replaced,” says Jim, “in him to help make it so he can move. I don’t have to go through that kind of pain, I don’t have to go through that kind of recovery, so in proxy what he has done for me, has kicked me in the rear, big time.”
Rod is back in Idaho Falls. He did get a mile into his run before heading to the hospital.
He and his dream team will determine a later date for him to complete the final 25 miles of the race in Idaho Falls this year.