Would you lean into the thing that challenged you most?
Devin Volk did.
Now, he’s ranked 2nd in the world for men aged 25-29 at the very thing that challenged him above all else: the perilous, painstaking sport of Ironman Triathlons.
But how he stumbled into this grueling sport will surprise you.
A Spark of Inspiration
“I wanted to run in college, but I quickly found out I wasn’t good enough,” says Volk.
“I needed another athletic avenue to pursue. Something new. Something I hadn’t done before. I was on the internet and saw a video of Kona. It looked brutal and difficult. It was really intriguing to try and do three sports, two of which I didn’t do. A very good opportunity to test what you’re made of.”
When Volk became inspired by a clip of the Kona Ironman clip online, he likely didn’t imagine that a few years later, thousands of people would be equally inspired watching him finish the same race.
The Early Days
To first learn if he would even enjoy triathlons, Volk signed up for a sprint-distance race entirely on a whim. The sprint distance is the shortest triathlon race format to compete in.
Equipped with a measly two weeks of swim training and a borrowed bike two sizes too big that he had only ridden once, he stumbled curiously into the race and got his ass kicked.
Volk described the swim as “basically just trying to survive until I got on dry land.”
But while the race tested the outer limits of his mental and physical ability, he felt a deep addiction brewing within.
“I made it. I finished. I was instantly hooked. I had so much fun that it didn’t matter if I was good or not, and it was actually even more addicting that I was not good because I really had the opportunity to grow and progress.”
Volk seized that chance to grow and progress, going on to complete many sprint and Olympic distance races and two years of half Ironman races before he geared up for his first full Ironman.
The Night Before Your First Ironman
In 2021, traveling from the bitter Oregon cold to the blistering Utah heat, Volk touched down in St. George for his first Ironman chock-full of jitters.
What does a soon-to-be Ironman athlete do the night before a race that most of us will never attempt?
“I tried to eat my two frozen pizzas and some sports drinks and load up as much as I could. And I tried to sleep as much as possible. But it was difficult. It was a lot of rolling around, nervous energy, and waking up the next day being very nervous.”
Though he puked nine times from dehydration during the run portion of the race, Volk finished, and with a good enough time to qualify for the 2022 Kona Ironman World Championships.
Here lies the power of dedication, hard work, and a hefty dose of belief in yourself.
Reaching Kona, At Last
This year, Volk raced on our Every Man Jack triathlon team at the 2022 Kona Ironman World Championships, handily crossing the finish line and snagging a silver medal, only to go back and help a fellow competitor make it across, too.
HELPING FELLOW RUNNER CROSS THE FINISH LINE AFTER 104 MILE RACE: American Devin Volk took silver at the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii earlier this month. The real applause was reserved for what he did at the finish line.— GoodNewsCorrespondent (@GoodNewsCorres1) October 25, 2022
The clip captured a moment of sheer humanity and made its rounds on social media, accumulating 28k views on Twitter. It reminded people of the rippling impact a small act of kindness can have, especially amidst a nearly unfathomable solo race.
In the clip, Volk cruises across the finish line and immediately runs back to help a woman whose legs have given out on her just several feet from the finish. Volk crouches down to ask if he can help, and when she agrees, he braces her and the two inch across the line with event staff arriving to take care of her.
Today, Volk lives in Bend, Oregon, where he’s developing a coaching business to help others compete at the Ironman level and training to race in the 2023 season as a professional athlete.
Even if it’s just by creating a better shower routine every day, we feel pretty damn lucky to make products for guys like Devin and to emulate worthy values.
Through the mid-run pukes and the finish-line pedestals, we’re rooting for you, Devin, and anyone out there striving to conquer what challenges you the most.