“This boy lived only 47 minutes. I race for kids like him.”

Interview with David Nijawan.

DavidN(2)Why do you do your sport?

I do it to help others. To be specific: special needs kids. On the way to a race one day, I sat next to the Executive Director of Ironman for Kids Foundation, which raises money for special needs kids and families. I had always races for charities in the past; they had my heart. This one had my soul. Since then I haven’t looked back. When I look at the training and racing, I hold these kids in my soul—when I don’t want to do a workout. I think about how I felt when I was at Ironman New Zealand after failing the year before. I have the opportunity to go to a wonderful country with wonderful people and do this race, a lot of these kids don’t even get a chance to ride a bike or run or swim or travel overseas. That always puts it in perspective for me, and re-calibrates my bitching about doing a morning training session.

How does Vasa support your why?

I am a training geek. I have a Vasa Trainer and a Swim Erg and use both religiously to strengthen and test myself. For general body conditioning, I use the Vasa Trainer. You can do every body part on the Vasa Trainer, if you have the right add-on tools. You can work your entire body. The Swim Erg makes me a better swimmer and a better athlete.

As you get older, you can’t do super high volume without hurting your joints. You have to do strength training or you’ll get injured. I am also busy. So the Vasa Swim Erg and Vasa Trainer give me strength in the most efficient way possible. I can do the whole gym thing, or I can walk downstairs and I have set exercises that I know I want to do. It’s so efficient.

Vasa makes me a stronger person to do what I want to do at Ironman and help these special needs kids.

What is your proudest achievement?

By far: the NZ Ironman in 2009. For two reasons. I came in at the end of the pack. It felt amazing, because my friends had finished, showered and cleaned up, but they came back to give me the fighting spirit. They kept saying “Noho Kaha” which is “Stay strong” in Maori. I did 25 miles of the bike without the right pedal. My foot was bloody. I was tired. I kept thinking: “I just want to be done with this stupid thing.” But then I would bring my mind back to one special needs kid. His name was Jeremy. He only lived for 47 minutes. 47 minutes. At the funeral, his family and the community came to celebrate his life. His parents looked at his life as a gift. They said: “We were allowed to be parents for 47 minutes and we will take it. We got to live the dream we always dreamed.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. As I was running the back half of that marathon, I thought: “big deal that my foot aches.” I got to go to this country and have people to cheer me on. This kid didn’t get a chance to live more than an hour. It re-centered me about how I approach sport, friendships, business and life.

After that experience, I will always celebrate life—and I will never be afraid again.

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This interview is part of the Vasa Ripple Effect campaign which strikes to the very heart of what gets us out of bed in the morning to do the sports we love. We want the Vasa community to share, connect and live better lives. At Vasa, we believe in “the power of why.” We believe people can achieve the extraordinary when they know and live their why. And, we believe that if people share ‘why’ they do their sport, it will make them better athletes & coaches—and thus, better people—which produces a positive ripple effect on othersWith that, we invite you to join the new Vasa community by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Connect with like-minded people, share your Why—and experience the #VasaRippleEffect!