In October 2017, On athlete Tim Don headed to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, as the reigning world record holder and a favorite for the title. But it wasn’t to be. In a final bike ride before the race, Tim was hit by a truck and broke his neck.
Tim’s comeback from the injury involved three months in a medical halo and extensive rehab, as documented in the On production The Man with the Halo, directed by Emmy-award-winning director Andrew Hinton.
Throughout Tim’s recovery a return to Kona was the ambitious goal that kept Tim focused as he learned to swim again with limited neck movement, slowly built up his running volume and faced the mental challenge of getting back on the bike.
An emotional rollercoaster
As has been typical of Tim’s year, the qualification itself has been anything but straightforward. Needing additional qualification points to make the top 50 and secure his place at the World Championships, Tim entered the Ironman in Hamburg, Germany on July 29, 2018.
A ninth-place finish in Hamburg was an incredible achievement less than a year after such a traumatic injury, but didn’t deliver the points Tim needed to make the world’s top 50 Ironmen. But Tim hadn’t come this far to quit now.
Despite the immense toll it would take on his body, Tim headed to Ironman Denmark in Copenhagen just three weeks later on August 19 for a final bid to accrue the necessary points for a Kona return.
But it wasn’t to be Tim’s day. After looking strong early on, Tim faded and was forced to retire from the race. Just as it looked that Tim would have to wait for another year to settle his unfinished business in Kona came the news Tim’s pain and effort deserved.
Ranked 51st in the world, Tim had missed out on a trip to Kona by just one place. So when another top-50 athlete relinquished their place, Tim was awarded the first roll down spot.
The dream return to the Ironman World Championships is on.
Earlier this year, Tim’s wife Kelly spoke about her belief that Tim could make the return to Kona, and what it would mean to see him toe that start line:
I just think that it will exceed most people’s expectations. Tim has always had in his mind that he's going to be there. And nobody would ever say, "you can't do it", because you just never know. To see him on the start line would be incredible.
After a short recovery stint in Spain, Tim’s attention now returns to preparations for an attempt at the Ironman World Championship title that six months ago seemed almost unthinkable.
See the remarkable story of Tim’s comeback at www.manwiththehalo.com. And watch this space for more exclusive content as Tim and other On athletes prepare for the Ironman World Championships, taking place October 13, 2018.