Breaking Down Fireman Rob


Robert Verhelst
World Record Holder, Fireman, Veteran

Robert Verhelst | 42

Number of Totals miles raced in full firefighter gear including turnout coat, bunker pants, Air pack, and helmet (weighing 50 lbs) for last seven years to inspire others: 1,022 MILES

My name is Robert Verhelst, yet most people know me as Fireman Rob. I am a dynamic storyteller with a unique, iconic story that brings your clients audience to life. From numerous years in the fire service to breaking a Guinness World Record to surviving on Discovery Channel’s show Ultimate Ninja Challenge to performing search and recovery after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the impact of my message resonates with everyone.I truly live and emphatically believe in, the power of purpose and a strong mindset, to overcome any challenge or fear

Mental toughness is…

the greatest asset that we can utilize in times of darkness, stress and turmoil to maintain focus and direction. Our mind is by far more dominant and powerful than our physical strength. Strength of mind is your catalyst to enduring the fires of life.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done physically

Each and every Ironman race that I did was a physical assault on my body. Imagine 16 hours and 30 minutes of pain with 7 hours of it walking and running 26.2 miles with 50 lbs of firefighter gear weighing you down. The pain of the weight on my shoulders from the air pack straps, the helmet pulling my head down, and the heat being trapped inside of the bunker gear. Along with the weight, is the shear distance after already swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.

The most mentally grueling moment I’ve experienced while racing

I would say that Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2013 was the most grueling mental challenge I have experienced racing. The day started out with the temperatures being 30 degrees for the 2.4-mile swim in Lake Tahoe. The mental challenges began with the bike of 112 miles, in high altitude, with asthma, and over 8,000 feet of climbing. I barely made the bike cutoff and knew the pain ahead with my asthma acting up and the cold of the night setting in on hilly course. The dark paths, the pain throughout my body from the day and the mental challenge of keeping my feet moving knowing time was playing against me.

The finish line was 1 mile away and I had 9 minutes and 30 seconds to get there… in full gear (50 lbs). The long and the short, I convinced myself the pain was temporary and finished with 5 seconds to spare. Then I collapsed…

Why I’m stronger than I think I am

My strength is developed through my experiences and my challenging of what is possible…for me.I would actually say that I think I am stronger than I actually am.It is a mentality of strength that makes me stronger.

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