HONOLULU (KHON2) — This past Saturday approximately 2,500 athletes lined up in Kona ready to take on the challenge of a lifetime at the Annual Ironman World Championship.

Every one of them came with a story of struggle and challenge and determination.

But few of them have a back story that match that of Todd Crandall who is swimming, biking and running to both help and inspire others.

It’s one of the most grueling events anyone can accomplish.

The 140.4 miles that make up an Ironman.

This past Saturday Todd Crandall completed his 31st Ironman competition.

“That 50 feet running down that finish line it’s electric man,” said Crandall. “When I finish running down one of those finish lines it’s just pure euphoria. The feeling that I have personally about transcends into the professional work that I’m doing.”

That work that he’s doing is as a counselor, helping peoples lives get saved from drugs and alcohol. Something that he knows first hand.

“But through the grace of God I survived a drug and alcohol addiction as a teenager,” Crandall said. “Jail, homelessness, heroin, cocaine, the whole deal.”

The self-destruction Crandall speaks of started at a young age.

His mother committed suicide when he was just three.

His own self inflicted wounds lasted for many more years.

The turning point he says was a third arrest for DUI.

“It was the catalyst that I simply said to myself I want something better,” he explained.” I want to live a life that I watched other people live for so long. So for the first time I took that same tenacity of destroying myself, and put it into self betterment.”

Today, Crandall has been sober for 26 years.

Running not to escape but to embrace, and help others battling addiction through his non-profit organization Racing for Recovery.

“And what makes this organization unique is first the support program,” he added. “It’s support group meetings not only for substance abusers but for friends and family that are battling addiction.”

Something else his organization offers is live streaming of support groups.

“So the folks in Honolulu or in Moscow and Cambodia, wherever you are can watch free support group meetings and get help via the racing for recovery format,” Crandall said.

Crandall said with sobriety, anything is possible.

While he knows not every recovering addict can one day cross the finish line of a triathlon event, he is convinced that anybody, no matter how difficult their struggle, can turn their life around.

“No you don’t have to do an Ironman triathlon,” said Crandall. “But if you choose to do one of those, yes you can achieve that too. But Racing for Recovery is about helping people get a spiritual life, education, family and just live a productive healthy balanced holistic lifestyle. I one hundred percent believe that anyone and I mean anybody can stop using drugs today and never use them again. Period that’s a fact.”

For more information, log onto Racing for Recovery.