Eleven-time Ironman Dan Perkins, pastor of Twin Oaks Church in San Jose, CA, claimed victory after finishing the Ironman St. George in Utah Saturday for Compassion International, the world's largest Christian child development and sponsorship organization.
Prior to the race, Dan, 51, raised more than $11,000 for Compassion's medical assistance fund and was hoping to raise more should he qualify for the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, as he had done in years past. Around mile 17-18 of the 26.2 mile run (marathon length), however, the IT bands in his legs tightened up to the point where the pain was too extreme to run on the downhills. He finished the race walking.
Dan said that inititally, negative self-talk started echoing through his head as he walked. He didn't come here to walk a marathon. He came here to run, but as he reflected on the Team Compassion gear he had worn for the entire race, his perspective began to change.
"While walking the last eight miles of the marathon in the hot desert, I had an epiphany," said Perkins. "This race isn't about me; it's about bringing awareness to children living in poverty. If even one person learns about Compassion, picks up the phone, and sponsors a child because of what I'm doing today, I can claim victory!"
In fact, many inquired Dan about Compassion throughout the day.
Walking through one of a number of aid stations along the course, Dan understood compassion in a whole new light.
"I was able to get food, water, rest and even medical assistance if I needed it at the aid stations to help me along my journey," said Perkins. "This is compassion. Helping others get to the next stage of their life, so they don't give up."
The Ironman is the ultimate endurance triathlon that includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run (marathon length), all completed in succession. Over 100 of the 147 that signed up in the 50-54 age group actually began the race. Dan, in spite of walking a good part of the race, finished 15th.
Compassion International is the world's largest Christian child development organization that permanently releases children from poverty. Founded in 1952, Compassion successfully tackles global poverty one child at a time, serving more than 1.2 million children in 26 of the world's poorest countries. Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works through local churches to holistically address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children - enabling them to thrive, not just survive. Compassion has been awarded ten consecutive, four-star ratings by Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.