Four Smile Train Team EMPOWER Athletes Compete in IRONMAN® World Championship

October 10, 2018 | Smile Train

On October 13, 2018, Smile Train Team EMPOWER athletes Chris Dell, Jeremy Hough, Jeff Krebs, and Pankaj Patel will compete among the world’s top endurance athletes at the IRONMAN® World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The four dedicated supporters will take on a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and 26.2-mile run — and even more unbelievably, collectively raise the funds for more than 800 smiles.

Smile Train’s team has a combined 20+ years of endurance racing experience, but they realize that Kona is unlike any other. Pankaj said, “Kona has a reputation of being absolutely brutal. I’m expecting a hot, humid, and windy Kona day — I’m going to have to dig deep. It will be the toughest race I’ve ever done, but at the same time, I know it’s going to be magical.”

To prepare for the intense event, the team has put in hundreds of training hours and tackled numerous practice events. “Team EMPOWER staff really steps up their training support for Kona with personal one-on-one coaching through their partner QT2 Systems. Having a professional coach really helps athletes stay motivated, focused, and consistent with their workouts,” said Jeremy.

Jeff Krebs races for Smile Train

Jeff has been an invaluable resource to the group, as he’s experienced the epic race before. He said, “I raced Kona in 2016 for Smile Train. My teammates can expect a day filled with awe-inspiring moments and extreme gratitude to be a part of something so special — think of it as the Super Bowl™ for triathletes.”

Each team member said that they have personal race goals, but it was ultimately the children that drive them. “It’s a tough race but I don’t plan on disappointing the people who’ve supported my fundraising and the 50+ children I’m competing for,” said Pankaj.

Jeremy Houghes races for Smile Train

Jeremy’s inspiration comes from his oldest daughter, who was born with a cleft lip and palate in 2006. He’s been racing for Team EMPOWER ever since. His commitment was further bolstered when he had the opportunity to visit a Smile Train partner hospital in Thailand. “Seeing Smile Train in action really cemented our commitment to the cause and we have made it our personal goal to help as many children as possible and change the world one smile at a time,” he said.

Jeff, who works as a physician, added, “I’m keenly aware of the medical ramifications of cleft lip and cleft palate and to help these children get the help they need certainly makes me feel good, and reminds me that my participation on Team EMPOWER is bigger than I.”

Now, as the event draws near, Smile Train staff, partners, and patients around the world wish the 2018 IRONMAN® World Championship team good luck and thank them for their generous commitment.

If you are interested in turning miles into smiles, including IRONMAN® World Championship 2019, visit our Smile Train Team EMPOWER page to learn more and sign-up for a race today.