More than 28,000 runners are expected to hit the pavement this Sunday in the Honolulu Marathon.
Kevin Rhinehart will be among them.
He won’t be among the leaders, but he should most certainly finish, and that in itself will be a major accomplishment.
Rhinehart never considered himself much of an athlete, but whatever level of fitness he did enjoy was stolen from him in the blink of an eye.
In January 2012, Rhinehart suffered a stroke. It was the day that changed everything. He couldn’t walk, or talk, or play his bass guitar.
He lost his job, along with more than 20 pounds in the months that followed.
Eventually he got stronger, and in 2015, Rhinehart moved to Hawaii island, where he made a decision that would change his life yet again. He chose to volunteer at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.
“By the end of it, I said I could do this. I don’t know if it was craziness or the stroke brain talking, but I said maybe I can do this,” Rhinehart said.
Call it drive, determination, or destiny, but just a single year later, he heard the words: “Kevin Rhinehart, you are an Ironman.”
“I think it’s amazing, but I think it’s kind of crazy,” he said with a laugh.
Fast forward to this weekend, and Rhinehart is about to run his second consecutive Honolulu Marathon.
KHON2 asked, “What keeps you inspired and what keeps you going?”
“Well first of all, stroke survivors keep me inspired. I want to get them hope that life is not over, because I thought life was over for me,” he replied.
That was then. Now he says exercise changed everything.
Although he hesitates to call himself an inspiration, he says he does take pride in knowing others admire him.
All he wants is to spread his message.
“I want to give stroke survivors hope and encouragement that they can, maybe not as crazy as triathlons, but still they can,” Rhinehart said. “I am fortunate, because a lot of my stroke survivor friends can’t even walk, and I think I run, bike, swim for them. I think whatever you can do, do it.”
And do it he does. The man who says he couldn’t run a mile before suffering his stroke now says at the age of 58, he’s in the greatest shape of his entire life — and not just physically.
“Mentally, too. I still have challenges, but my outlook on life so much simpler,” Rhinehart said. “I don’t recommend anybody have a stroke to accomplish this, but I did, and I will make the best of it.”