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Prater Looks to Put Everything Together at Saturday’s Ironman

October 10, 2013, 4:56 PM HST
* Updated October 10, 10:00 PM
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He only learned to swim last year and is still getting comfortable with distance running, but Kailua-Kona resident Kevin Prater is happy to have the opportunity to put the two skills together with his biggest strength, cycling, for Saturday’s GoPro Ironman World Championship.

Prater, 41, was awarded a spot in the prestigious endurance event during the Ironman Big Island Lottery earlier this year.

Cycling is where the Niceville, Fla. native gets in his groove. It’s also the sport that got him through a difficult period in his life.

Doctors found a tumor in Prater’s lung in December 2011 while living in Arizona, which forced them to remove two-thirds of his right lung. “I had to find something that I could do to kinda bring back the capacity in there and just to keep me active and not just kinda sit on the couch and grow moss,” Prater explained.

Cycling was a recreational activity initially, joining in a few charity events along the way. He moved to Kailua-Kona in 2009 and soon took his passion to a new level. He started to compete in competitive cycling events soon after moving to the Big Island. But, his attention turned to biathlons and triathlons just last year.

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The first major event he prepared for was the Lavaman Keauhou, held last November. He didn’t know how to swim, however, and learned just two weeks before the event. “I wanted to do steps to get here (Ironman) so I did the Lavaman Keauhou and I knew if I didn’t sign up for that and set that deadline, I’d never learn how to swim, so that’s what was my motivation,” explained Prater.

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The long distance run was the next skill to polish up on. He said he started preparing for endurance running around the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Honu), held earlier this year. “I was a fullback in college, I was 230 pounds and just a solid mass of muscle and not much in the way of endurance. I’m down to about 170 pounds now and it’s amazing what this does for you.”

The Ironman rookie plans to take the same approach to Saturday’s race that he did for the Honu event earlier this year, relying on advice given to him in the past. “Don’t go into it as a race. Go into it as an event that you’re just participating in and wanting to have fun in,” Prater recalled. “Really enjoy it. Take it all in. See what everybody has, see what there is, and really immerse yourself in the event and just have a blast.”

Being the lifelong athlete he is, he still has a time goal set for himself. “I want to be in here under 14 hours. Not a great time, but for me, it’s a pretty good time.”

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