NAPLES, Fla. - Robert Verhelst does the unthinkable at the bike transition area during the HITS Triathlon Sunday, he puts on more than 50 lbs. of clothes. The 33-year-old firefighter from Madison, WI completed the final leg of the race, a 26.2 mile run, while wearing full firefighter gear.
"Most people do think I'm nuts," said Verhelst during his marathon, "that's a good thing though, you can't be like everybody else."
"You gotta step outside that box."
His steps under the bright Naples sun are nothing compared to what he's endured in the past. Verhelst spent eight days sorting through the rubble at Ground Zero.
"The hardest part is the bike ride," Verhelst said, "(the marathon) is easy, I know what I'm doing this for."
He's doing this for two reasons: to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11, and to raise money for Code 3 for a Cure, a non-profit group of firefighters who have battled cancer.
President and found Lorenzo Abundiz has survived three bouts with the disease.
"I said one of these days I'm going to drive a fire engine across America and I'm gonna honor and remember firefighters who died of cancer because they paved the way for better equipment and procedures that we all use today," said Abundiz.
"There's a lot of guys that are going through a lot more things than just being hot," said Verhelst, "this is the least I could do for them."
And he'll do it for them 27 times this year, which would break the Guinness World Record for most triathlons in a single year. The current record is 20. The full race includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.