Traveling the World for Ironman Events and Philanthropic Work
The word I keep coming back to is choice.
I volunteered as a Peace Corps volunteer (Nepal 2003 and Ecuador 2005-2007). It was through the experience of living and working in poor, rural communities that I began to grasp the concept of choice. I began to see that completely by virtue of where I was born, my life is awash in choice. And that choice is the most valuable gift I’ve ever known.
I can choose to be educated or not, to marry or not, to have children or not. I can choose my career, my company and the city I want to live in. I can choose my diet and my doctor. I can choose my priorities. I have chosen to prioritize health over wealth and hobbies over 60-hour work weeks. These are choices that the men and women in my Peace Corps villages did not have.
For the last 3 years, I chose a wood-paneled basement apartment over a big, fancy apartment with a view. I chose to save all I could for those three years by skipping designer fashion, drinks and dinners out.
With the money I saved, and in recognition of the choices we in the developed world have, I am taking 7-month trip around the world in lieu of making a down payment on a house.
I am choosing to travel for 7 months, to countries vastly different from my own, to learn. That is, to seek a greater understanding of my world, and to use that knowledge to leave it a better place than I found it.
As a holder of an American passport, I have the choice to visit 174 countries without a pre-arranged visa. (Only the UK passport has as much power.) When I was working in Nepal, my counterpart, and Nepali-educated teacher wanted nothing more than to visit the United States, but based on the country in which he was born and the passport he held, the choice was not his to make. I am taking advantage of the choice to travel because so many people I’ve met along the way do not have this opportunity.
Four years ago, when I showed talent in triathlon, I had the choice whether or not to pursue a professional qualification. Each morning, I had the choice to wake up or sleep in, and each day after work I had the choice to stay late at work, go to happy hour, or to do an evening training session. The kids in my Peace Corps villages will never have that choice.
There are so many people in this world who, for financial, physical, or cultural reasons, cannot participate in sport. Those of us who are healthy enough to enjoy sport, who are in a position to afford running or biking shoes, who live in communities where it is safe to train, and in countries where our sex does not prohibit our participation in athletics, owe it to the rest of our brothers and sisters who, for financial, physical, or cultural reasons, don’t have access to sport.
When I eventually obtained my professional qualification, I had the choice to take the qualification –and with it the added pressure–or to continue to race as an elite amateur. As I explained to the IRONMAN CEO:
My initial voyage into triathlon (even as an amateur) had been motivated by a desire to raise awareness for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. I explained that the MMRF’s tireless work to bring blood cancer treatments to market had extended my father’s life and that I use triathlon as a vehicle for giving back to the organization that has given my family so much. My hope in racing specifically as a pro though, I explained to Mr. Messick, is to shine a brighter spotlight on the MMRF than I could do as an amateur, to further elevate the foundation’s status, and to give more hope to more cancer fighters.
Further, every time I step into my running shoes, I acknowledge that I am doing something that my father once loved to do, taught me to do, but can no longer choose to do himself. When I race, I race for both of us.
Each of us has the option to race for a greater purpose, and I am making that choice every day of this adventure: to train and race as a professional triathlete for a cause that is greater than me.
Kendra Geoffrado Pro Triathlete, former US State Department Contractor.
What’s in Kendra’s bag?
Reversible Training Beanie
Designed for high-aerobic activities, this training beanie can handle the sweaty life. Featuring our PhD® Ultra light fabric blend, this training beanie offers a snug fit designed to stay in place when your workout gets moving. Reverses to increase your color options.
Women’s Margarita socks
A SmartWool® favorite, the Margarita takes on a south of the border flavor in its authentic festive colors. The non-cushioned crew sock can be worn year-round.
Women’ Micro 150 Top
An all-season favorite, wear the Micro 150 as a baselayer in fall or as a single layer when summer backpacking calls. Sporty stripes and body enhancing lines take you from trail to town in a flash.
Women’s PhD Run Light Elite Micro Sock
Our best fitting, most advanced run socks yet, we packed years of testing, prototypes and running smarts into these socks. Featuring Light Elite cushioning in the ball and heel of the foot for ultimate shock absorption with minimal in-shoe volume, women’s-specific mesh ventilation zones and a virtually seamless toe.
Women’ PhD Run Short
Get the best of both worlds from the first step to the last: this short features an interior brief of Merino designed for fit, comfort and temperature regulation and an outer synthetic short designed for speed and protection against the elements.
Women’s PhD Run Ultra Light Top
Featuring our new, quick-drying Ultra Light fabric, this top is primed for sweaty workouts. The temperature and moisture regulating properties of Merino team up with polyester for greater stretch and recovery and quicker dry time than Merino alone. Gender-specific mesh panels increase breathability.
Hottest Day: 118° F, Vietnam Coldest Day: 27° F, NZ Cheapest Paid Accommodations: $5, Eungella National Park, Australia Most Expensive Paid Accommodations: $60, ocean-front condo in Durban, South Africa Nights Couch Surfed for Free: 72 Smoothest Cycling Road: The Chinese-financed, newly-paved highway just outside of Maputo, Mozambique Bumpiest Cycling Road: Inside Maputo city center Longest Single Flight: 17.5 hours(Dallas to Sydney) Longest Travel “Day”: 36 hours (South Africa to Chile via Abu Dhabi) Most Forms of Transportation on a Point to Point Journey: 7, from Kruger National Park to Johannesburg: private tour van-local bus-another local bus-taxi-private tour van-train-car. Cheapest Bananas: 5 cents on the side of the highway in Swaziland Most Expensive Bananas: $1.25 in Sydney, Australia grocery store Coolest Thing Seen from the Seat of my Bike: zebras Pools Utilized for Lap Swim Training: 22